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Facing Facebook

SOCIAL networking has come a long way since Sixdegrees.com. They have gone from single celled organisms to plant life in a matter of six years(that's like evolution by the hour). But however they develop, there is no denying that social networking has taken over the lives of most of us in both good ways and bad. The face of social networking today is represented by one networking giant: Facebook.

A simple domain name bought in 2004 for a meager sum of US$ 200,000, it declined an acquisition bid of over 2 billion dollars in march 2006. Now THAT'S scary! But why is Facebook such a giant? Whats soo cool about it? Why must we invest our precious time accepting request from applications that say 'Which Desperate Housewife are you' and 'Zombie Hug'? We all love facebook, and we all hate it. But in which direction does the balance tip? Lets find out.

1) Photos can be uploaded at the click of a mouse. It is an excellent online photo album, and the fact that all your friends and family can see it can make it even better.

2) Wall posts are a great way of keeping in touch with old friends and new ones. You can do graffiti, send clips, and basically anything you could possibly want to send your friend without touching your wallet.

3) Groups are a great way of keeping in touch after your college years. Secret groups can be made, so that you can limit access to outside people, and keep it just between friends.

4) You can check out people's profiles without them knowing it. The security settings on facebook are of special interest, since you can limit the access to every aspect of your profile, whether it be pictures, videos, or even wall posts.

5) Applications can sometimes be quite fun. Text twirl, mob wars, and chess are just a few fun applications that you can use to kill some time online while making friends.

Cons(cancel your appointments if you have any, this shall get messy) :

1) If friend requests were grenades, the amount of requests sent to just ONE girl with her actual picture on her profile would be enough to blow up Paris. Seriously though, social networking has a way of getting too social and too networked way too fast.

2) If you are not properly tech savvy, (like this friend of mine who barely knows how to go to facebook's inbox) you might have unknown I-will-stalk-you-to-the-ends-of-the-earth type people looking at your profile, and sending you messages along the line of 'I want to friendship you'. So if by some chance you don't know how to alter the privacy settings to the different aspects of facebook, then the site will become a social deathtrap.

3) Applications abound in facebook. So much so, that on one occasion, I had to delete 126 application requests after a twelve hour hiatus from facebook. While some applications maybe fun, others are just plain wrong. 'What kind of Bear are you' and 'Zombie hug'. No use scrubbing your glasses, that is what I said. ZOMBIE HUG. It is ten times better than either an individual zombie, or a hug. So yes, applications can be a real pain to keep ignoring. And there is no real way to block out useless applications.

4) Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of facebook is that it does the 'social networking' bit a bit too well. I don't want my mama reading what my potty mouthed friends have written on my wall. Sometimes, you just can't avoid these circumstances. And sometimes, you cannot decline friend requests because the person you're declining is as persistent as hell, and will call you up a week later with a monkey-like grin saying 'accept korli na dost'.

5) Another alarming thing about facebook is the fact that while we are enjoying the fact that we have all our friends at our fingertips, we're ALL at the fingertips of advertisers. The huge volume of personal information that we use to register at facebook is easily available to somebody with enough money or enough influence.

The advertisers filter their target recipients using criteria that match our personal details. This 'data mining' is scary business, and can easily be misused.

6) Scams are also a danger in facebook. Although the website is being constantly filtered, incidents have occurred where a facebook application installs spyware onto a users computer. The most famous of this is the 'secret crush' application which installs the adware Zango.

7) Facebook requires more personal attention than a handicapped Chihuahua. Posting pics, recording videos, poking, changing status, updating the profile, making sure your mob stays alive, replying to wall posts and personal messages, managing groups…you could go on. It is fun, but it takes up way too much time to be categorized into a 'healthy habit'. If you don't spend enough time on it, you're not social enough. If you're social enough, you're also a couch potato.

8) Some people have annoying profiles. Some people add absolutely ANY request that comes their way(I experimented by making a fan page about me called 'Naveed', and seven unknown people added me, along with the known ones). Their profile takes up so much time and speed, some light probably flickers and goes out in a distant village.

9) Controversies exist about a lot of facebook's groups. Some groups seem racist, and some groups seem to be of extremist views. And facebook is quick in disarming and banning any associated member, without much consideration.

The Verdict: Facebook is a fun site that lets us keep in touch with our loved and not-so-loved ones. Like any major fad, this will also bite the dust when something bigger comes along. Hi5 and Orkut are just a few examples of the victims of facebook. And as for the people, you can enjoy it, or you can make the right choice. There is nothing wrong with a bit of socializing, but one must wonder, at the end of the day, whether this sort of information monopoly is really worth the risk.

By Naveed Choudhury

It's worth It

HIS father is a fisherman, his mother a homemaker. His family's monthly income is a meager Tk 3000. His family hardly gets by with this money, and every day is a struggle. We don't need to know his name. He is the blurred face of the poverty-stricken thousands who live lives of extreme penury in our country.

Yet there is a flicker of hope for this boy living in the remote outskirts of Pabna. He is the only one out of the 3 children in the family who is studying- and that's all thanks to Grameen Shikkha. The Scholarship Management Program (SMP) of Grameen Shikkha has brought hope to many such poor students in Bangladesh who wish to continue studying despite all the setbacks they face. This program ensures that meritorious students do not drop out from school or college by providing them with financial assistance when their families are unable to support their education. The students themselves don't have to look for financial assistance because Grameen Shikkha tracks students who fall under this category.

It works like this. A sponsor donates money to Grameen Shikkha, which then invests the money. 6% of the deposited money is given as scholarship every year, beginning 6 months after the money is deposited by the sponsor.The minimum amount of scholarship that a student receives every month is Tk 250. This just goes to show how little effort it takes to reach out, if one really wants to.

Sponsors are an important part of this program. A sponsor who donates money to a student through Grameen Shikkha plays an active part in the child's education. The sponsor can decide the name of the scholarship and other criteria such as the school and student who will be receiving the scholarship, or the sponsor can let Grameen Shikkha decide who will receive the scholarship. My parents sponsor two such students, so I can guarantee the fact that the money is in good hands and the students do indeed receive and benefit from the scholarship. In fact, the sponsors are regularly given updates about the students they have sponsored and about the educational progress these students have made.

Another great thing about this scholarship is that it is not limited. A student in any part of the country may receive the scholarship. Many poor but talented students who have received such scholarships have since gone on to colleges and universities and are doing very well for themselves. We spend so much money on trivial things, don't we? But there are causes that are greater than those that concern our own, and causes like these deserve to be applauded. There are so many more students out there who might be needing your help, who really desperately want to study but don't have the means to. You would be doing them, and perhaps your country too, a huge favour by sponsoring an amount of money (Tk 50,000 or above) that you would perhaps not hesitate spending on something luxurious. Anybody can sponsor for the scholarship. For further information, please e-mail nurjahan-gs@grameen.com or check out www.grameen-info.org. Is there a greater gift than the gift of literacy? Is there a better way of setting someone up for life than by ensuring that he or she receives a proper education? You decide.

By Anika Tabassum

Too good to be true

AFTER a hiatus from its widely acclaimed Wireless Sessions series, Live^2 Event Management was back with yet another rocking concert on the 29th of August, aptly titled “Too Good To Be True”. The show kicked off at Decagon Cafe with a really slow beginning, as it took almost as long as two hours from the given time to commence. The turnout seemed to be quite low as well owing to the poor weather.

However, after much waiting the first band Eclipse came up on the stage. They began with Dream Theater's 'Another Day' which did not get the crowd right to the front but got them grooving with their guitar work. Then they proceeded to a much smoother 'Hollow Years'. They wrapped up their performance by two of their own tracks among which the D'Rockstars favorite 'Ahoban' finally got the people crazily moving towards the stage.

Up next was Warfare, which had quite a languid beginning with the coverage of their own tracks 'Mone Pore Jay', 'Nikosh Adhar' and 'Pothchola'. But once they performed 'Nitol Paye' at the end, the crowd simply went berserk and sang along with them at the tops of their voices.

Bohemian followed Warfare. They simply surprised the crowd with Korn's 'Falling Away' and APC's '3 Libras' that garnered much appreciation. A huge rush of adrenaline pumped everyone up as Labib's mesmerizing drum-works progressed along with their performance that ended with their brand new track 'Ami' from an unreleased mixed album. Next, after a yearlong gap, Reborn was welcomed with much applause. But they took a really long time to start as they suffered technical difficulties with their keys. This got the crowd really impatient. When they finally commenced after introducing their new bassist and keyboardist, the audience was enraptured with their electrifying piece of guitar works.

By the time Shunno came on stage, Decagon was buzzing with people. They began with their mellow instrumental number 'Dysfunction of a Nervous Breakdown' and progressed to 'Notun Sroth', a popular track from their album, which had the crowd swaying to the rhythm.

Some people were pretty doubtful about Groovetrap at first. They started off with James' 'Jhakanaka' by guest vocals Jasper and as soon as they got on to their next song 'Smoke on the Water' by Deep Purple. Their drummer, Nafeez who will be leaving shortly, lent his vocals for 'Brick in the Wall'. You can imagine how everyone moved their lips to 'We don't need no education…'!

Raaga was up next. As usual Elita's beautiful voice hypnotized the crowd with Lata Mangeshkar's 'Moyna Go' and their own tracks. Arbovirus set the stage on fire with 'Knocking on Heaven's door' and 'Smells like Teen Spirit'. Guest guitarist Christi from Reborn rocked the audience along with Arbovirus. Lastly, the much-awaited Radioactive fulfilled the crowd's quench for underground music. Polash's high-pitched vocals made the people head-bang once again to their trademark cover song '18 and life'. They performed a few more of GnR until they wrapped up the show with their much-applauded rendition 'Shopno Kotha' with serene flutes by Polash that was enough to touch one's heart.

It would be quite an understatement if one said that the concert was a huge success. After all it was the biggest underground show before Ramadan. So the crowd emerging out from it was ecstatic and most of them remarked that they had their money well spent. The event was powered by Live^2, Banglamedia and Incursion Music. Event Partners were Radio Foorti 88.0 FM, Amaadergaan, Decagon Café and Sound Machine.

By Faria Sanjana and Samannoy Ghosh

Cool off with hot tea?

Is it true or just an old wive's tale?
It's a tale we've all heard, usually in the form of a helpful suggestion from a friend. Whenever you mention that you're hot, someone will point out that (believe it or not!) you can cool off by drinking hot tea. The logic behind this claim, is that the hot tea makes you sweat and that helps cool you off. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it? Funny how no one ever suggests that turning up the heat in your house would actually make you cooler.

But many people can't help think that it still makes sense in some way. In a nutshell:

The problem in the logic lies with the laws of thermodynamics. The amount of heat lost by sweating and evaporation will never exceed the amount of heat gained by the hot drink you've consumed.

Another problem is that the extra heat makes your blood vessels near the skin dilate to help cool your blood faster. The nerves in your skin can sense this, causing you to feel flushed and warm. Not exactly the result you are looking for.

The overall answer, is that hot tea will make you sweat more, and increase your cooling. But the amount of extra cooling won't be enough to offset the heating-up from the tea.

So next time someone points out that you should drink hot tea in the summer, don't rush to put the kettle on. Grab a tall glass of iced tea, an iced coffee or lemonade instead.



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