Monday, October 29, 2018

Making green fuel from crop residues

We Are The World Blogfest
There are various residues or leftovers that remain after the harvesting of a crop. Since they don't have any use in that form, most farmers burn them, leading to huge environment pollution.

However, those residues can be further processed to obtain what are called biofuels. But it needs some investment and it is not an easy process.

Recently, I chanced upon a news item in The Indian Express that spoke of a startup formed by two enterprising farmers in Punjab. This crop residue management company is called Farm2Energy, and they make biocoal with residue from crops
of paddy, sugarcane and corn. Biocoals are environment friendly fuels that can be substitutes for coal, wood, and other conventional fuels.

It is really heartwarming to see such environment-friendly business initiatives being undertaken. And more such activities can make our world a better place to live in.

(This post was submitted to the 18th edition of the We Are The World Blogfest, which seeks to promote positive news. This is the Facebook page of WATWB.)

Friday, October 26, 2018

Going to sleep with earphones plugged in

People, especially youngsters, with earphones plugged in, is a very common sight, nowadays. Most of them are listening to music, I guess. You see them in office working on something very serious, or travelling metro trains, or walking or jogging; and I am told, they listen to music even while going to sleep.

I am plugged in (to mean online on my phone) only to keep myself updated with the news stream almost through the day, and to reply to important emails and messages. I am not one of those who listen to music on earphone while reading, writing, walking or jogging. Very rarely, when I am craving for some change, I play instrumental music in very low volume on my laptop or phone, but through the speaker and not the earphones.

During the past few weeks, on four or five days, I went to bed with earphones plugged in, listening to music or some of my favourite podcasts. During those good old days, I have fallen asleep listening to the radio, but not via earphones. There is also a school of thought which says soothing music in low volume calms the mind and helps you get good sleep.

But my experiment was a disaster. I didn't fall asleep. The music and the radio programmes hardly had any soporific effect. Worried I might just lie awake the whole night, I unplugged the earphones and tried to sleep, the way I have always done.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Google Plus -- Another Google product that is being shut down

Earlier this month, there was a news item that Google will shut down its social media platform, Google Plus, for consumers. From August of next year, Google Plus will be available only for business customers.

The reason: Google discovered earlier this year, that its software programme had bugs that allowed miscreants to steal data of not only G+ users but also of their friends. This discovery was around the time when Facebook was being hauled through coals for a similar loophole in its software architecture.

Google kept quiet at that time, fearing a public backlash. Now they have come up a solution -- since Google won't be able provide a safe platform to its users, they will rather shut it down. And according to Google, there are very few people using G+. It's the businesses that are using G+ more.

Percentage wise, probably, the number of users might be comparatively small. But the number could be quite a big. And this decision will impact a lot of people around the world.

This decision is very much in pattern with Google's general practice of constantly innovating and coming up with newer services and products, but keeping only the ones they think are doing well. Reader, Buzz, Knol, Labs, Video Goggles, Health are some products that have been shut down.

These are the relevant paragraphs from Google's blog post announcing the decision to shut down G+ for consumers.
The consumer version of Google+ currently has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds. 
The review did highlight the significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumers’ expectations. Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we decided to sunset the consumer version of Google+. 
To give people a full opportunity to transition, we will implement this wind-down over a 10-month period, slated for completion by the end of next August. Over the coming months, we will provide consumers with additional information, including ways they can download and migrate their data. 
At the same time, we have many enterprise customers who are finding great value in using Google+ within their companies. Our review showed that Google+ is better suited as an enterprise product where co-workers can engage in internal discussions on a secure corporate social network.
Here is a list of services and products that Google has shut down.