Bored? How about stimulating your Brain?

This is my answer to a question asked on Quora. 
To be honest i was bored out of my wits when i stumbled upon this. The extensive amount of reading up on behavioral psychology helped me in framing this one. With 132 vote ups (as of now), i felt that i should share it here as well. So here it goes, the top 5 stimulating activities for your brain can be:
1. Learning a new language or instrument: It stimulates the artistic right brain.

2. Listening to different music: Break out of your routine playlist, listen to something new and there go your neurons in figuring it out.

3. Traveling: This one’s a no brainer. Newer experiences whether weird / good will broaden your horizon.

4. Doing something that scares you: Yes, instantly your mind starts throwing up plans of how you could get through / out of the situation

5. Debate: Take a stand, make your points and you’d be surprised how your mind races at every point your opponent makes.
 

To leave you with more food for thought:

 *Source credit mindjet

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Simple Idea, Big Solution – Social Blood

I was going through some of the ideas shared in the TEDxGateway back in the month of December and one of them particularly struck me. As its mostly said, the best ideas are the simplest ones. I can’t recall any complex ideas that would have really taken off in the recent past.
The idea that intrigued me was presented by Karthik Naralasetty. He starts his talk with case of a young girl from Karnataka who needed nearly 30 units of blood every month to make it through thalassemia which is a blood disorder. The most common perception that most people have is that others would be donating blood and that they don’t really need to donate. Many times people get away with donations with arbitrary excuses which brings us to the other point that Karthik makes that “Finding donors is difficult”.
In the midst of all the noise that is created about different problems that one faces, its often difficult to reach out to the exact person who can help with the requirements. This is applicable to any real world problem wherein not only individuals but massive brands, non-government organizations and non-profits face the same challenge. However, with the growing technology landscape and shift in networking online, Karthik was able to foresee an opportunity area. Typically the early adopters for any technology would want to experiment and push the frontiers to explore what they can really do with the medium.
Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012.

The simplicity of Karthik’s idea was to go social with the concept of blood donation. After evaluating several platforms, he centered on Facebook and leveraged the large network he had. To be more specific he created a total of 8 groups for different blood groups. Then a website was created where all these groups were directed and friends were requested to join. Many times, we as individuals want to contribute towards certain causes but hold back thinking why put in the time or rather no one else is doing it. However, when we see a greater cause to align ourselves with for the greater good of others we are motivated to take action to believe that we are a part of something greater than ourselves. Karthik’s understanding of the power of facebook and human connections in this context gave him a big lever in making this viral with requests for groups in different countries.
He’s also built on the immediacy of responding to blood requests by creating “Social Blood”. The uniqueness of this platform is that it helps in identifying which friends have a common blood group to the user and what other blood types are available in his/her network. This also makes it simpler to connect with a blood bank or hospital in times of need. I think this can be instrumental in case of crisis or instances where a rare blood type may be needed. Karthik points out that this is his effort to solve the blood crisis and cites that if 1 to 3% of the population was to donate blood, it would suffice the need for the entire country. Towards the end he makes an interesting point that there is a global compassion crisis and this would be one step towards resolving it. I think this idea is very simplistic, yet powerful in terms of taking care of an issue that is stifling many groups across the world. A scale up to this would lead to building up of a powerful network that can be banked on by several medical institutions worldwide!

Why tagging is important for Instagram?

So you’re out for a jog and can’t help but notice totally distracted photo junkies like me on the lookout for a #photooftheday scene waiting to be snapped. Yes, we #instagrammers as most people would like to hashtag their pictures to are just waiting for that dew drop to fall, kitten to purr and flower to bloom. Add to that coffee shots, stills of my shoes and just about anything thrown is in the most absurd of formats. Cover it up with a filter (my fav is Lo-Fi and at times Amaro) and you’re good to go!

Now, Instagram just recently introduced its photo tagging feature. So earlier, i could tag my friends in the description. However, if you’re likely to receive a lot of comments then heaven help the friend in sifting through!

Coming to why this is important:

1. Users: Users can now directly tag friends in pictures that will make it easier when a group of people are tagged as the photo will then appear in their photos too. (Bound to make a lot of lives simpler)

2. Business/Brands: Brands can stand to gain here as users can simply tag them in photos of themselves. In a way they would also need to be cautious and keep a hawk’s eye out for any deteriorating content being floated around.

3. Crowd sourcing: As many would know, user generated content is the way to go. In this way for a business perspective, this move by Instagram could prove to be fruitful.

4. No Advertising: Facebook acquired Instagram, so changes on simmilar lines were foreseen. However the good part is that since Instagram is free of any form of advertising, users & brands alike will have to be really quirky and innovative with content to engage.

So, there you have it. Tagging will make it easier and increase the overall shares and activity on Instagram. Now, i got to go and grab a mocha mugshot!

What you should know about Bitcoins (Crypto Currency).

We’ve all heard about file sharing P2P software. But how would it be to share Money?

This is exactly the basic idea behind Bitcoin. Keeping in line with all sorts of internet activity, bitcoin works on a platform which ensures cryptic transactions. This has also been popularly referred to as crypto-currency.

Started off in January 2009, by an individual/group called as “Satoshi Nakamoto” (identity yet to be ascertained) this currency works across the world with no country / existing financial board or committee having any control over issuing it. The only way of tracking the movement of bitcoins across the world is through timestamps. Simply put, each time i intend to pay you 1 bitcoin; I would be digitally signing off on a hash of timestamps for the previous transactions and your address (IP). Leaving out the technicalities of how transactions are processed, here some finer points to ponder:

1. Valuation: Since there is no central issuing authority, there is little control over how much should a bitcoin be valued at. It started off with a group of individuals setting a value which has fluctuated majorly in the past 2 years. Back in Jan’13 1 bitcoin = $13, however post the Cyprus banking collapse its value has inflated to $137. As of now, the total value is 21 million bitcoins. According to experts this represents a bubble in the making.

2. Purchase Analysis: Being an open platform, all transactions are open to be viewed by all. This would help organisations to run all kinds of analysis to better understand buying patters, industry trends and major deals being cracked with payments being made in bitcoins.

3. Code Loopholes: Hackers are waiting to exploit systems such as these. While frauds, phishing and snooping impact even the most secure banking systems, this could only become more easier to crack. An episode did take place in August ’09 where a high number of bitcoins were generated and siphoned off to 2 accounts. This was however tracked and the additional bitcoins generated were wiped clean.

4. Taxation / Economy: In the real world, the government has tax slabs and means of defining how much of an individuals wealth would be taxable. However, in a virtual system such as this it will be tougher to devise a system on similar lines.
 

Those were a few of the pointers that sprung up when i was reading up on this alternative currency. Many economists have written it off as an experiment and there is mass contemplation over whether bitcoins can even be converted in to real money. But there are a set of enthusiasts who are willing to receive their salary in the form of this currency! It would be interesting to see how big bitcoins eventually become or if these would just end up to be a fad. My take on it? I’d hold off till i hear my neighbors talk about it!