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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Government Monitoring of Email

This is just in. The government is seriously considering asking Google to help it in monitoring the email. Google India has adopted the no comment policy so far, but they are not denying receiving such a proposal from the government.

If you are wondering what it is, I would say, Gross invasion of privacy!! That's what it is. How low can a Government stoop? Stoop, as in accepting their total incompetence in governing without invading the private space of citizens. Stoop, as in displaying total ignorance about the dynamics driving the situation in the country. Stoop, as in being totally clueless about the technology.

They say it is for terrorism. Frankly, and this is what I totally believe, they might as well plead with the terrorists to register with the government before starting any of their activities. It works like this, if the terrorist are using email they will have enough knowledge about redirecting emails so as to make it difficult for the agencies to track them, at least delay them sufficiently to succeed in their nefarious activities. And if they don't use email, hell! it does not matter. So what purpose are the politicos and the bureaucrats achieving by passing such a resolution, other than harassing people and maybe finding fall guys to cover up the real culprits.

Here is a proposal. If we really want to gain from all this monitoring business and since the effort is being made I recommend that the emails and the phone conversations of all the politicians, babus, judges and lawyers be monitored so as to put a total end to corruption, lobbying and horse trading, witch hunting etc. Then we wouldn't have to interrogate the Radias, Rajus and Mehtas of India long after the damage is done.

In any case, if the law is being proposed shouldn't the leaders and government officials lead by example to present their emails and telephonic conversations for public and media scrutiny. In that case sure, pass the law, resolution or whatever else you can call it, others will follow, because we, the people of India, have nothing to hide.

Eyes Watering Over Soaring Onion Prices - Govt Curbs Export

The price of onions has been soaring steadily for the past one month in the city of Mumbai and other parts of the country as well. Starting from Rs 40 per Kg, the price has now gone upto more than Rs 70-80 per Kg. In some parts it is being sold for even as high as Rs 100 per Kg. These soaring prices are definitely affecting the common man and the poor as onion is used as a main ingredient in most Indian cooking, specially in North India. Onion is the food for the poor, as they eat dry rotis with an onion to curb their appetite, when there is nothing else to eat. Not only onions, the prices of vegetables too have gone up so much that it is becoming very difficult for the housewife to manage her kitchen on a tight budget.

Image source:

The unseasonal rains in most parts of the country this year is supposedly the cause for this crisis, as most of the onion crops were damaged. But there is no near end to this crisis in sight as the govt in the state say that things may ease only by January end. Though the govt has taken steps by curbing the export and in fact banned all export of this commodity, onion is now being imported from Pakistan.  They hope that the situation will improve as 25-30 truckloads of onions have arrived at the Wagah border near Amritsar. The centre will decide where this stock should be sent.

Maharashtra is supposed to be the country's highest producer of onions, about 31 lakh tonnes on an average. India is the second highest onion producing country after China and the biggest exporter of this essential commodity.

 Image Source: "Onion prices have helped topple Indian governments in the past."

What's interesting to observe is that in the past, onions have been the cause of toppling the ruling govt. Will this crisis reduce Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh to tears, only time will tell. In the meantime, they need to do something fast to check the horrendous rise in prices of all the essential commodities, that includes vegetables and petrol. The question that arises in the minds of the common people is that there may be foul play, or dirty politics behind this whole crisis. Are the onions being hoarded on purpose by unscrupulous elements? Speculations, speculations...are plenty.

"A food ministry official told reporters that agriculture cooperative major, National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited (NAFED), has been stopped from giving fresh clearance to exporters.

"We have decided to suspend issuing no objection certificate (NOC) to onion exporters till Jan 15. A decision has also been taken to double the minimum export price to $1,200 per tonne for those NOCs which are yet to be implemented," the official said.

The official suspected speculative elements behind the price rise." News Report.

"Data sourced from the National horticulture Board (NHB) show that prices of bitter gourd, brinjal, cauliflower and tomato have all risen since November, which is unusual given that supply of vegetables usually rise during winters, which should have been more pronounced this year given that monsoons have been rather good". News Report.

"The rise has been blamed on unusually heavy rains in growing areas, as well as on hoarders and speculators." News Report

"Prices have skyrocketed in recent days to as much as Rs 70 a kg Centre has asked Nafed and other agencies to voluntarily stop exports Agri ministry has doubled export prices of onion, making it uncompetitive In Maharashtra, onion may be distributed through ration shops if stocks run out Summer crop that is harvested towards Jan-end may be only hope." News Report.

It is a common strategy used by the govt to divert attention from other scandals and scams, to start something that will take the focus of the common man to something else that is more important. Is this just a the wake of scams like Adarsh, and 2G and other land scams that have been rocking the state govt of Maharastra for quite some time? 

In the meantime....tears continue to flow.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Watch "Sheila Ki Jawani" Tees Maar Khan (Full Song) HD

"Sheila ki Jawani" is a hot item number from the latest Bollywood movie directed by Farah Khan, Tees Mar Khan. This song has become the most popular song of the year featuring the hot and sexy, sizzling Katrina Kaif. Sheila is proving to be the ultimate sex bombshell. Katrina Kaif, "whose Sheila ki jawani in Farah Khan's Christmas release Tees Maar Khan is making the right noises, has also helped her consolidate her position as the sexiest woman in the world." Kaif's win comes close on the heels of Salman being voted the sexiest man alive by the People magazine.

Katrina Kaif voted sexiest woman in the world - Photos, pics, wallpapers

Watch "Sheila Ki Jawani" Tees Maar Khan (Full Song) HD on you tube video at the link provided. The movie Tees Mar Khan will be released in Theatres on the 24th December, just in time for Christmas.

No Boards For CBSE Students - Finally CBSE Students will Graduate Without Sitting for Board Exams

Finally, the students appearing for the class x CBSE exams can heave a sigh of relief. There will be no stress on appearing for the much feared board exams for the students in the coming year. Earlier there was much confusion for the class Xth student over whether to sit for the CBSE board exams or opt out of it, as the option was provided. But it was not clear whether their decision either ways would have any negative effect on their academic course later in life. It has now been clarified that "whether they choose to sit for the board exams or not, the marksheets that will be issued to them will be the same. In other words, they will look identical, and one will be hardpressed to figure out who appeared for the CBSE board exam, and who opted out. The bottom line is that on paper it will make little difference whether or not you decide to appear for the board exams in the coming year."

It is for the first time that over 5L CBSE students will graduate next year without sitting for the board exams. The exams are now optional, a first of its kind in the country. A student can opt out from the boards and answer an internal exam instead without any consequences as the marksheet for both the exams will be the same. Many students have already chosen not to sit for the boards this year and the numbers are increasing. By taking this step, CBSE aims to reduce the stress levels among the students appearing for the Xth class examinations.

How will it work?

In both the cases, 60% of the assessment will be carried out by the school that involves project work, sports, class participation, etc during the school curriculum. The remaining 40% is the written examination that will be set by the CBSE board. Now, the students who opt to sit for the board exams will have their papers corrected by the external examiners. For those who don't opt for the boards, the papers will be corrected by the school itself. 

The principals of all the schools insist and assure all the apprehensive parents that there will be no bias in the results of the students in either event. Whether they choose to appear for the boards or not, their mark sheet will remain the same and the marks will be equally effective in their admission to junior colleges. To make sure the results are not biased, the answer paper will be re-assessed by a second examiner.

Given below are some questions and answers provided by the news report to ease your mind:

Q. If you opt out of the CBSE Class X board exam, will the marksheet reflect your choice?

A: No.The internal school assessment marksheet will be identical to that issued to a student who sat for the board exam

Q. If you opt out of the CBSE board exam,will you get your results at the same time as someone who sits for it?

A: Yes

Q. Who will assess the exam papers?

A: For those who appear for the board exam,60% of the assessment will be done by the school and 40% by external examiners.

For those who opt out of the board exam,the entire assessment will be undertaken by the school.

Q. Who sets the exam papers?

A: The board will set the papers for both students who appear for the board exams as well as those who dont.In both cases,this will account for 40% of the total assessment.

Q. If you choose to not sit for the board exam,will the marksheet that you receive be adequate while applying to another board?

A: Yes.You can apply to a junior college in Mumbai on the basis of your marks even if you do not sit for the board exam. 

Q. If you are a Class X student at a particular CBSE school,are you guaranteed a seat in Class XI in the same school?

A. Yes (irrespective of whether or not you appear for the board exam)

Q. Are all CBSE schools in the country giving students the option of dropping the Class X board exam?

A. Only CBSE schools that run till Class XII are giving students the option of dropping out of the board exam.

Q. When is the last day to finalize your decision?

A:  December 15, 2010.

Well, the last date to make your decision has flown past, so either way, whether you are sitting for the boards or not, it doesn't matter. So, just relax, and study for the exams like any other exam, without any stress. That's the whole idea. 

While this piece of news may come as a good news for some, most may still be skeptical about the results and the consequences, either way. Whether this system will really work, only time will tell. For example, "Jyotsna Wankhade whose son will be appearing for the board exam says: In Mumbai,  there are many issues and prejudices when it comes to students from other boards.We dont want to give the government another reason to not accept our sons application."

The Xth class board exam may have become optional, but the students will still have to sit for the XIIth board examinations.

Being Too Clean Can Be a Health Hazard

The more we have evolved as human beings, the more conscious we have become of our hygiene and cleanliness. So much so that the zeal for cleanliness has turned into an obsession for some, and we end up sterilizing everything in our paths. From the time a baby is born, we make sure that everything is clean and sterilized and as much “germ-free” as possible, which includes the antibacterial soaps, wipes, tissues, using disposable diapers and sterilizing the feeding bottle etc. The practise of personal hygiene habits continues with the growth of the child into adulthood. But sometimes, being too clean can be a health hazard.

The zeal for cleanliness may be the major factor for the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of various harmful bacteria. The antibacterial products, that we use, kill most of the harmful bacteria but are also equally capable of eliminating more than one-third of the good bacteria that are normally present in and vital to the health of our skin.

 Hand washing with antibacterial soaps
         (Source : Wikimedia Commons)

A recent study, conducted by the University of Michigan School of Public Health, suggests that young people who are overexposed to antibacterial soaps containing triclosan may suffer more allergies and exposure to higher levels of Bisphenol A among adults may negatively influence the immune system.

Triclosan is a chemical compound that is commonly used in products like antibacterial soaps, toothpaste, pens, diaper bags and medical devices. Bisphenol A is found in plastics and also in the protective lining of food cans. Both these chemicals are considered to be endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs), which affect the hormones in the body.

"The triclosan findings in the younger age groups may support the 'hygiene hypothesis,' which maintains that living in very clean and hygienic environments may impact our exposure to micro-organisms that are beneficial for development of the immune system," said Allison Aiello, associate professor at the U-M School of Public Health and principal investigator on the study.

"It is possible that a person can be too clean for his or her own good," agreed Aiello, who is also a visiting associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard.

"The hard part to get across is that a little dirt is a good thing," says Stuart B. Levy, M.D., director of the Centre for Adaptation Genetics and Drug Resistance at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. "You should wash after normal activities, where you come in contact with microbes and dirt, especially before you eat. But you don't have to clean every 5 to 10 minutes." (Source: The Dirt on Cleanliness)

“We need antibacterial products in hospitals and in the homes of people who have low immunity,” acknowledges Dr. Levy. "When I send a patient home, I will often tell her to use an antibacterial cleaner until her condition is healed. I will say that she should cleanse with it for minutes, not seconds. But when I find out she has been using that same antibacterial product casually in the home, I worry whether it will do any good " he says. "Bacteria have likely already been selected that resist it."

For your daily use, Dr. Levy recommends “the use of fast-acting non-residues for cleaning: bleaches, peroxides, alcohols, and the traditional soap and water. And when you do wash your hands, wash them thoroughly for 15 to 30 seconds with plain soap and water.” 

The widespread use of anti-bacterial could eventually mean that they will be ineffective when we really need them. There is a need for conscious effort at reducing the use of anti-bacterial products, and obsessive behaviour concerned with being clean, ought to be checked. This is not to say that we should stop being hygiene conscious, but put a limit to it and use the anti-bacterial products only where it is called for. In other words, a little dirt is good for health.

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Original article posted on Xomba.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Search Engine Optimization, SEO, for Website Owners – Bang For Your Buck

Search Engine Optimization, SEO, is a subject which most website owners do not understand much of and hold in awe. Almost every business or professional service, needs to have a website these days. Since designing and developing a website is beyond the scope of the website owners and their IT department, if they have one, most people hire a professional company to design and develop the website, of course on payment. This is where the things get murky. The website developer will make your website but wants extra money for Search Engine Optimization.

Now, what use is a website of, if it is not optimized for search? Should you be paying for a product which does not meet your ultimate objective of being visible on the Internet? We have seen many websites, even those which are listed as recent works of the website developing companies, which are not optimised for search. When we were looking for a website developer for a client, we spoke to a couple of these people and asked them why the websites developed by them were not optimised for search. I got the answer that the website owners had not paid for SEO. Wow!

Now consider this, the developer wants extra money for doing basic things which are required to be done in accordance with the W3C, the World Wide Web Consortium guidelines. Let us take, for example, accessibility. It is required that web be made accessible to people with disabilities. One of the requirements is that all the images in websites be tagged with alt text, which will allow a vision impaired person using a screen reader to know what the image is. Search Engines also promote accessibility. But the website developer will not use alt text for the images unless you pay him for it. Search engines will accordingly penalise your website for having images without alt text.

This is ridiculous. First they charge you and do only half the job, and then, they charge you again for completing their original job. SEO as a service should start from the point of completion of development of a Search Engine friendly (optimised) Website and should mainly comprise of optimising the external factors which are used for ranking of web pages. Unfortunately the SEO companies as well as website developers are treating SEO as a completely separate business and are essentially looting customers.

Most of the things required for optimising a website are actually a part of the development process and if the website owners know what these things are, they can ensure that the coding is done accordingly. Therefore it is imperative that website owners know what SEO is and how they can demand for the basic elements to be incorporated in the website itself.

Our book, Search Engine Optimisation - A Handbook of Easy Tips, Tools & Techniques has been written with this in mind and covers the basic requirements of SEO for website and SEO for content. Website owners will find this book handy and will be able to cut costs in the website development process and also get better results for their money.

The Kindle version of the book is available at

The paperback book is currently available at the publisher website at,,7766A/isbn:9788122311525/index.html The book should be available in stores and other online book stores as well, in a few days time.

Online Stores

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Top 10 Hot Toys For Your Kids This Christmas 2010

Christmas is just round the corner and hopefully you would have finished all your christmas shopping by now. For those who are still wondering, don't lose hope. Here is a list of the top 10 hot toys for your kids this Christmas 2010. Every year the markets are flooded with new and hot toys for kids during this holiday season. Check them out. You may just find the perfect gift for your kid right here, just a click don't waste anymore time. The most popular and hot toys for Christmas 2010 are given below.

1.  LEGO Harry Potter Sets:
Lego Harry Potter Sets

For all kids who are in love with Harry Potter and crazy about all things to do with Harry Potter related characters this would be the perfect gift. With the release of the latest Harry Potter movie this gift would be much in demand, and therefore highly recommended. It is available online at Amazon and the prices range from as low as $10.00 to as high as > $500. So pick the one that would suit your budget and kid. To check out the whole range of Lego Harry Potter Sets click on the link.

2.  XBox 360 Console (250 GB) With Kinect
Xbox 360 Console
For older kids who are into video gaming, the Xbox 360 (250 GB) console with Kinect is available on Amazon for $450. The console can be attached to your current Xbox. It is wholly voice-activated, has a 3-D camera and microphone that comes alongwith the system. Kids can run in place and throw objects as the games respond to both voices and movements, and turning it off is as simple as anything else inside this virtual world. A simple “Stop” command does the trick. Ain't that cool? So check out the Xbox console Kinect..

Fisher-Price iXL 6-in-1 Learning System (Pink)
This is definitely one of the hot toys for kids this Christmas. Comes in three colors, pink, blue and silver and available on Amazon for $69.99. Ideal gift for preschoolers as it helps them develop skills within the world of reading comprehension skills, early numerical skills, develops creativity, improves phonics, writing and even spelling. A combination of great activities to help your child in almost every aspect of early childhood development. It’s a fun way to learn and the smart choice to help with kindergarten readiness. So check out all the Fischer-Price iXL Learning Systems including their software and some accessories at this link.

Fisher-Price The Sing-A-Ma-Jigs - Purple

Kids seem to love things that make noise, much to the annoyance of their parents..well you may not "dig" this toy but I can assure you it will be a hot choice for your kid. These small cute toys sing every time they are squeezed and what's more, when you put them together they can work with each other to recreate great songs. Available on Amazon in many attractive colors red, blue, yellow, pink and even hot pink and their price ranges from $11.92 - $16.82..So take your pick. Check out all the varieties of the cool Fischer-Price Sing-A-Ma-Jigs here...

Fisher-Price Dance Star Mickey

This year Mickey seeems to have ousted Elmo as the favourite dancing toy for Christmas season. The hot new toy for your kid this Christmas will definitely entertain all through the year. This Fischer-Price Dance Star Mickey can walk, talk, and dance and several other things as well to keep your kid entertained. Watch Mickey come to life right before your eyes. With multiple songs, interactive activities, and silly humor, Mickey is sure to knock your socks off. Available online at Amazon for $89.49. So don't wait anymore, grab one before they all vanish...Fischer-Price Dance Star Mickey.

Kung Zhu Battle Arena   Kung Zhu Ninja Warrior Battle Armor Set of 4

Following the earlier Zhu Zhu Pets which were generally milder and for girls, these Kung Zhu Pets are rowdier. They are available in two different teams - The Special Forces and the Ninja Warriors and they each come with their own accessories and playsets to help them engage in battle...Available in Amazon for prices ranging from $12.74 - $29.99. Check out the whole range of toys available in this series of Kung Zhu Pets.

7. The New LEGO Star Wars Sets
LEGO Star Wars LOOSE Mini Figure Darth Vader with Silver Lightsaber

Who doesn't love the star wars clones and figures. Get the perfect Christmas gift for your kid. The LEGO company has come out with some great Star Wars Sets that will enthrall your kid and keep them entertained. There is a whole range of them that are available on Amazon from a little over  $10 - >$500...Choose the ones that suit your budget and kids..You can choose battle sets, tanks, mini figures, starfighters and many more...Check out the LEGO Star War Sets here.

Nerf N-Strike Stampede ECS (with Bonus Darts)
If you select this toy, it is sure to be one of the hot toys for Christmas 2010. Another perfect chrostmas gift for your kids. The NERF toys have serious power that most kids are looking for and the handle acts as a bipod so that your child can get stability and range with every shot. The NERF N-Strike ECS comes with bonus darts and is fully automatic. A storm of darts can be unleashed from the extended 18-dart clip and reloading can be done in a hurry with three spares. Your child is sure to dominate any battle he encounters. Available on Amazon for $51.89...Check out all the others in the series too..The NERF N-Strike ECS along with accessories.

Fisher-Price Imaginext BIGFOOT the Monster
Bigfoot lives upto his name by its size of 14 inches, and what's more it is a "little" Monster with a "BIG" personality. For kids who love HUGE presents, this one will be the perfect Christmas hot toy. He can be real fun as he walks, talks, throws a ball, chews, burps and exercises. Yeah a toy does that too. Funny world, ain't it? That's not all, he can emote too..Oh yes, he gets angry, happy and sleepy too at times...What fun. Kids can bring him to life with an easy-to-use wireless remote control. The symbols on the buttons show you what BIGFOOT will do when you push them -- no reading required. Available on Amazon for a price of $84.99, BIGFOOT includes one (9.6Volt) NiMH rechargeable battery and battery charger. Remote Control requires 2 AA alkaline batteries. So, grab your Imaginext Bigfoot Monster today..Hurry!!

V.Reader Animated E-Book System

The V.Reader could be the perfect hot gift for christmas for kids of the ages 3-7 year old. eReader Systems are the top choice for adults and may now be considered as one of the hot toys for Christmas 2010 too. The Animated E-Book System by VTech is an interactive digital learning toy that encourages young kids ages three to seven years to learn to read and improve their vocabulary and reading skills. Know more about this vTech V.Reader Animated E-Book system at the link provided. Available on Amazon for $54.00 and includes V.Reader device, V.Reader pen, V.Reader Storybook cartridge, soft cleaning cloth, USB cable, user's manual.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book on Search Engine Optimisation - Handbook of Easy Tips Tools and Techniques

Search Engine Optimisation - Handbook of Easy Tips Tools and Techniques is a book written by Varinder Taprial and Priya Kanwar is ready for distribution to all the major bookstores across the country, so look out for it. Available online at Pustak website.

Language: English
ISBN: 978-81-223-1152-5
Price: Rs. 120.00
Usually ships within 10 days.
This book tries to deconstruct the enigma which surrounds Search Engine Optimisation. While website owners find the topic overwhelming, most SEO experts overly abuse the ignorant to make money. Have you invested time or money in a website or a blog and yet find no visitors coming to your website or blog? The reason may be that your website or blog is not optimised for search. But don't rush and hire the first self-proclaimed SEO expert yet. Most of the improvements or modifications that are required can be handled by you or by your website developer. This book will help with
  • Understanding how Search Engines Work
  • Understanding Search Engine Optimisation
  • Tips and techniques to optimise website design
  • Tips and techniques to optimise content
  • Tips for choosing an SEO company
  • Handy tools available on the web
  • Promoting your website or blog
 About The Authors

Varinder Taprial and Priya Kanwar are both avid bloggers on the Internet and they share a common passion for writing. They are co-authors of the book "A Beginner's Guide to Blogging and Making Money Online". Varinder Taprial has also authored the fiction novel "Enemy in The Ranks". The Authors can be contacted at You can follow them on their official fan page on Facebook.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lit Agency Starts Manuscript Review Service

Lit Agency, the Mumbai based literary agency has started a Manuscript Review Service for authors. The idea behind the service is to help authors polish their manuscripts before they send it off to the publishers for consideration. The reasoning behind starting the service is very simple. With the ever increasing “Slush Pile” (unread manuscripts), the publishers have no qualms in rejecting manuscripts and do not even consider helping the authors to improve the manuscript to get them to publishing standards. And why should they, when so many other manuscripts are waiting for their consideration?

“Writing is a very lonely job,” says Varinder Taprial of Lit Agency, “The author has no one to help him improve the manuscript, since opinions of friends and family are often biased and unqualified. Moreover the author himself has read the manuscript so many times that he is generally not in a position to pick up errors, inconsistencies and deficiencies by himself. We want to fill that void in the author’s life, by providing an unbiased critical appraisal of the manuscript and also areas for improvement.”

With the Manuscript Review Service the agency hopes to enhance the chances of manuscripts and prospective authors with the publishers.

About the company:

Lit Agency is a Mumbai based Literary Agency run by Varinder Taprial and Priya Kanwar, who have co-authored three books. Along with the Manuscript Review service, the agency also provides assistance to authors wanting to publish books as Print on Demand or e-books.

Laser Dentistry – Changing the Face of Dental Treatment

For all those anxious people who fear going to the dentist, there is good news in the form of “laser dentistry,” which is quickly growing in popularity among the dental fraternity, as well as the patients, as it is rapidly enhancing the dental procedures, making them more effective, quicker to perform, and much more comfortable and painless. There are many dentists today who have incorporated laser dentistry techniques for precise dental care and treatments. “It is estimated that 6 percent of general dentists own a laser for soft-tissue applications, with that number expected to increase over time.” As more dentists embrace this technology in their offices, its cost will decrease further.

Understanding Lasers and Its History

Laser in dentistry. Laser being used in a dental clinicLaser is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation and is a device for generating a high-intensity, ostensibly parallel beam of monochromatic (single wavelength) electromagnetic radiation. It works by emitting light that delivers quick pulses of heat energy to the treatment area. In dentistry, different wavelengths are used depending upon the type of tissue being treated. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Therefore, laser dentistry can be a very precise and effective way to perform many dental procedures depending upon the dentist’s skill, which involves controlling the power output and duration of exposure on the tissue, thereby allowing the treatment of a highly specific area of focus without damaging the surrounding tissues.

It was Albert Einstein who first theorized about the process called "Stimulated Emission," which makes lasers possible, in the year 1917. Thereafter, the word “laser” was first used by Gordon Gould, a doctoral student at Columbia University under Charles Townes, the inventor of the maser.

In 1964, Kumar Patel invented the Carbon Dioxide Laser (CO2), which was the first gas laser to produce high power radiation continuously. This invention proved to be the most useful in the field of science and today has brought about more major breakthroughs, due to its diverse practical applications in the field of medicine and industry, than any other type of laser. 

Although it was in 1960 that laser was developed and sanctioned for soft tissue procedures, the use of lasers in dental procedures (gums) first gained approval by the FDA or Food and Drug Administration in only the early 1990s and was soon followed by its application on hard tissues like bone and teeth in the year 1996. In 1997, FDA approved the erbium YAG laser for the treatment of sustained tooth decay, on dentin. Since then, laser dentistry has seen many more improvements and has widened its scope of applications.

Application Of Laser Dentistry

Laser dentistry utilizes a high-energy beam for the treatment of hard and soft tissues in the oral cavity and can be used for cosmetic dentistry procedures as well. The technique is precise, less invasive, faster, painless, patient recovers faster and also negates the use of sutures (stitches) or anesthesia when compared to traditional dentistry and the application of drills.

There are two types of lasers approved by the FDA, one for the soft tissue procedures (gums) and one for the hard tissue procedures (teeth). These can be used for treatments in both children and adults.

Laser Dental Equipment the KEY Laser 3 from Kavo

Laser Dental equipment :
Image shows the latest KEY Laser 3+ from Kavo.

Hard tissue lasers have a wavelength that is highly absorbable by the hydroxyapatite and water, thereby making them more effective in cutting tooth structure. Hard tissue lasers include Erbium YAG and the Erbium chromium YSGG.

Laser Incision in dental surgerySoft Tissue Lasers have a wavelength that is highly absorbable by water and hemoglobin, thereby making them more effective in soft tissue management. The common soft tissue lasers used are Nd: YAG and diode lasers, which have the ability to kill bacteria and activate the re-growth of tissues thereby facilitating its use in periodontal treatment.

(Planned incision in a low-power intermittent mode allows for greater control for incision placement. Image Courtsey : Dr Anisha Maria, Prof. Dept of Oral Surgery, Modern Dental College and Research Centre, Indore.)

There are many uses of lasers in the field of dentistry.
  • Detect early cavities
  • Cavity removal
  • Teeth whitening
  • Cosmetic Dentistry
  • Gum reshaping
  • To seal tubules which decreases and/or eliminates the uncomfortable sensitivity of teeth.
  • Can be used for hardening bonding materials used in fillings
  • To remove bacteria from periodontal pockets
  • Minimise bleeding in surgical procedures
  • Minimise bacterial infections during surgical procedures as the high-energy beam has a sterilizing effect on the area worked on.
  • Dental lasers may be used to quickly reduce pain and inflammation of the temporomandibular jaw joint.
  • Dental lasers may be used for the painless and suture-free removal of benign tumours from the gums, palate, sides of cheeks and lips.
  • Low intensity dental lasers reduce pain associated with cold sores and minimize healing time.
  • Photobiomodulation can be used to regenerate damaged nerves, blood vessels and scars.
  • Optical Coherence Tomography is a safer way to see inside tooth and gums in real time.
Laser applications in the field of dentistry allow dentists a wide variety of dental procedures that may not have been possible otherwise, and they are now able to incorporate a state-of-the-art precision technology into a number of common and not-so-common dental procedures. Lasers have quickly become indispensable in the field of dental surgery as a modality for the treatment of soft tissue surgery. They not only allow surgeons to enhance current surgical options for treatment, but also have contributed to the evolution of a variety of new procedures. With further development of newer, more versatile, and more specifically-absorbed laser wavelengths, new clinical applications will undoubtedly arise.

For more information about “laser dentistry”, check out these links: -
Original article posted on Xomba..

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Vicodin – Should it Be Banned?

A 30-year-old Michigan man was recently arrested for possession of prescription pills not in a prescription bottle. The pills he was carrying were Vicodin.

New York recently conducted a drug amnesty program in a bid to curb teen drug abuse. One of the drugs included in the program was Vicodin.

A 44-year-old doctor, Constance Sweet, was arrested in Bradford County for prescribing Vicodin to patients for treating drug addictions.

So what is it that makes Vicodin desirable as well as a restricted substance at the same time?

Vicodin tablets
Vicodine is an analgesic given orally in a tablet form. It contains hydrocodone and paracetamol (acetaminophen) and is generally the drug of choice for pain relief, because it provides better pain relief than either of the two constituents taken separately; however, inappropriate and uncontrolled use of the drug can be dangerous, and the potential for addiction and abuse is well known.

The human body develops tolerance to the drug, meaning that increasingly larger doses are required to produce the same degree of analgesic effect. For this reason, patients might start increasing the dosage or the frequency without being actually addicted to it. However, over a period of time, patients develop an addiction, physical or psychosocial, to the drug.

Prolonged usage of Vicodin results in physical and emotional dependence. Initially, patients tend to convince themselves that nothing is wrong and that a slight increase in dosage or frequency is not going to harm them. They couldn’t be further from the truth. Therefore, it is important to recognize the symptoms of addiction to Vicodin.

Symptoms of Addiction:
  • Using the drug even after the pain for which it was used is no longer there
  • Inability to cope with routine things       
  • Feeling physically ill
  • Trying to buy Vicodin without prescription or looking for doctors who will prescribe Vicodin
  • Your family or friends indicate that your behaviour has changed after starting the medication
Please remember that addiction is treatable, and, if one feels that he/she is showing signs of addiction, a doctor should be immediately consulted, since it is much easier to control at the initial stages. The withdrawal symptoms on stopping the medication include insomnia, tremors and agitation.

It is estimated that the drug, along with its other generic equivalents is prescribed more than a 100 million times a year in the US alone. The hydrocodone/paracetamol is also available under other brand names like Anexsia, Dolorex Forte, Hycet, Liquicet, Lorcet, Lortab, Maxidone, Norco, Polygesic, Stagesic, Vicodin, Xodol, Zamicet, and Zydone.

In the US hydrocodone is a schedule II drug, but when combined with paracetamol it becomes a schedule III drug, essentially meaning that it can cause low or moderate physical dependence and high psychological dependence if abused. A federal advisory panel has voted to ban sale of Vicodin because of its harmful effects on the liver.

By itself, hydrocodone has the same structure as morphine, even though it is not as potent as morphine and is metabolized by different enzymes. Paracetamol (Acetaminophen) overdose, on the other hand, causes close to 400 deaths and about 40,000 hospitalizations.

Side Effects:

A visual representation of the side effects of Vicodin can be appreciated in the interactive diagram presented at the following link:

The side effects of Vicodin are upset stomach, dizziness, and lightheadedness, and can occasionally cause seizures, allergic reactions, fatigue, bleeding, sweating, hot flashes, nausea, vomiting, itching, constipation, etc., and may also have a depressant effect on the nervous system.

An overdose of Paracetamol (Acetaminophen) is known to cause harmful effects to the liver. The maximum amount of Acetaminophen recommended by specialists is 4 grams per day. As Vicodin contains up to 750 mg of Acetaminophen, one needs to be very careful with the intake.

Contraindications and Drug Interactions:

A doctor’s prescription and advice should be taken when taking Vicodin as a medication for pain relief or any other condition. When consulting a doctor who is contemplating prescribing the drug, you must inform him if you have any of the following conditions:
  • History of head injury or tumor,
  • Low blood pressure
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Stomach or intestinal disorder
  • Mental illness
  • Spinal disorders
  • A history of alcohol abuse
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Adrenal gland disorders
  • Asthma, other breathing disorders like COPD or sleep apnoea
Vicodin interacts with more than 500 drugs. That should be reason enough for anyone to shy away from self-medication with Vicodin. Vicodin is also contraindicated during pregnancy. It is not known for sure whether it hurts an unborn baby, but it could cause breathing problems or withdrawal symptoms on birth. Acetaminophen and hydrocodone can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby.

To conclude all the side effects, contraindications and the addictive properties make Vicodin a dangerous drug to use, and perhaps that is why there is a debate about banning the drug.

Original article posted on Xomba

Monday, October 11, 2010

Beware of Mosquito-Borne Diseases Malaria, Chikungunya and Dengue Fever

The monsoon rains are definitely welcomed by one and all for several reasons, but they also cause the spread of various water-borne and mosquitogenic diseases that can be fatal to many. Beware of the buzz of the mosquitoes. The most common mosquito-borne diseases are Malaria, Dengue and Chikungunya, which have become a growing concern over the past decade as many people have been severely affected. Last month, there was a rise in dengue, chikungunya and malaria cases reported in India. 

Since all the three of the diseases mentioned above are caused by mosquitoes and characterised by fever, it is very important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of each so you can diagnose the condition as early as possible and begin the treatment. So how do you differentiate between Malaria, Dengue Fever and Chikungunya?


Malaria is a worldwide disease that has been around for more than 50,000 years. The disease is widespread in the tropical and sub-tropical regions, including the Americas, Asia and Africa. Each year about 350–500 million cases are reported. About 1 million of those succumb to the disease. According to WHO, there are 109 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, which are affected by Malaria. WHO observed April 15, 2010, as World Malaria Day 2010, and has declared Dec. 31, 2010, as the universal coverage deadline for delivering effective and affordable protection and treatment to all people at risk of malaria.

Malaria is an infectious and life-threatening disease that is caused by Plasmodium parasites, which are transmitted to people through the bites of infected Anopheles mosquitoes. These mosquitoes are called “vectors.” There are four species of malaria, of which Plasmodium falciparum is the most serious. The other three, P. vivax, P. malariae, and P. ovale, are generally less serious and not considered to be life threatening.

The characteristic signs and symptoms of malaria appear seven days (usually 10-15 days) after the infective mosquito bite. The person has fever with chills, headache and vomiting, which may be mild and difficult to diagnose initially. A typical sign of malaria is a cycle of chills, fever, and sweating that repeats every one, two or three days. There can also be vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, and yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes due to the destruction of red blood cells and liver cells. A simple blood test can detect the malarial parasites within the red blood cells of an infected person and confirm the diagnosis.

**Useful Resources for Malaria:

National Institute of Malaria Research
Guidelines for Diagnosis and Treatment of Malaria in India
All about Malaria


Chikungunya and Dengue are both viral diseases caused by the bite of Aedes Egyptii Mosquitoes, which breed only in fresh water that has stagnated in flowerpots, cans, air conditioners, etc. In Asia, the mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are the two main species involved in transmitting the virus from infected individuals to healthy contacts. They usually bite during the daylight hours. Chikungunya was first detected in the year 1952 at a place called Makonde Plateau, in Africa. Since then, Chikungunya virus (CHIK) outbreaks, which are known to occur cyclically, have occurred occasionally in Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia, and most recently in limited areas of Europe. The name ‘Chikungunya’ is derived from a root verb in the Kimakonde language that means "to become contorted" and describes the stooped appearance of sufferers with joint pain. The good news is that this virus is not contagious and therefore the disease does not spread from person to person, but only from the bite of the infected female mosquitoes. More than 1.25 million suspected cases were reported in India in 2006.

CHIK viral infection begins with a short incubation period of 2-4 days. Typically, after 48 hours of being bitten by an infected mosquito, the person will experience sudden high fever with shaking chills. Sometimes they may also develop a maculopapular rash (red flat patches that may contain small raised spots) over the trunk, limbs and face, which may last for 3 or 4 days. However, the most common symptom is severe muscle pain and joint pain. Pain initially starts in the small joints of the hands and feet, wrists and ankles, and later the larger joints. Most patients recover fully, but in some cases joint pain may persist for several months, or even years. Other non-specific symptoms may include headache, slight photophobia and insomnia.

**Useful Resources for Chikungunya:

How to Recognize Chikungunya Fever Symptoms
Treatment and Prevention of Chikungunya Fever
WHO / Chikungunya – Complete Information
Chikungunya - Frequently Asked Questions
Molecular and serological diagnosis of Chikungunya virus infection

Dengue Fever

Dengue, also known as Dengue Fever, is a viral disease that imitates influenza and is found in tropical and sub-tropical climates worldwide, mostly in urban and semi-urban areas. The WHO site says, “Some 2.5 billion people--two fifths of the world's population – are now at risk from dengue. WHO currently estimates there may be 50 million dengue infections worldwide every year. In 2007 alone, there were more than 890,000 reported cases of dengue in the Americas, of which 26,000 cases were DHF.” It was during the dengue epidemics in the Philippines and Thailand in the 1950s that Dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) was first recognized to have potentially lethal complications. Today, DHF affects most Asian countries and has become a leading cause of hospitalisation and death among children in the region.

Dengue is caused by four distinct serotypes of viruses and affects people with low levels of immunity. Therefore, it is possible for a person to get dengue fever multiple times. However, an attack of dengue produces immunity for a lifetime to that particular serotype to which the patient was exposed. Dengue is also known as “breakbone fever” or “dandy fever” due to the intense joint pains and muscle pains suffered by the patient.

The characteristic sign of dengue fever is a severe, flu-like illness that affects infants, young children and adults, but seldom causes death. The infants and young children may develop rashes along with the fever, whereas older children and adults may have either a mild fever or the classical incapacitating disease with abrupt onset and high fever, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, and rash. Classically, the symptoms of dengue fever may range from a mild fever to incapacitating high fever, with severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, and rash.

**Useful Resources for Dengue Fever:

What is dengue and how is it treated?
Dengue/dengue haemorrhagic fever
Information on Dengue Fever: Signs Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention
CDC - Dengue

It goes without saying that the best method to prevent these diseases is to control the breeding of mosquitoes in stagnating water and to use mosquito repellents. Travellers need to take precautions when going to tropical countries, since some locations, as well as some seasons, can be of a higher risk. It is best to keep in mind that the mosquitoes that bite during “daytime” transmit dengue fever and yellow fever, whereas the mosquitoes that bite during the “night time” transmit malaria and Japanese encephalitis.

The following precautions can be taken:
  1. Taking prescription anti-malarial drugs.
  2. Practise the 5 “D”s – Don’t go out during Dusk and Dawn. Dress so your skin is protected from mosquito bites (long shirt sleeves and pants). Apply mosquito repellent containing Deet to bare skin and clothing. Drain out water to avoid stagnation and dry out the containers.
  3. Use mosquito netting to sleep. It is proved to be the most effective way of preventing mosquito bites.
  4. Sleep in an air-conditioned room or well-screened room.
Note: Chloroquine is NOT an effective anti-malarial drug in India and should not be taken to prevent malaria in this region.

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Original article posted on Xomba

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Social Media Management – Why a Business Can Not Ignore it Anymore

Summary: Social media is yielding an ever increasing importance in the establishment or sustainability of a business. Social Media Management encompasses a holistic strategy to listen, converse, monitor and manage conversations to enhance and preserve your brand reputation. It is not only about having a presence in the social media but also to keep a track on all the conversations about your brand taking place on various networks and taking preventive or corrective action to avoid small issues snowballing into major disasters for your business.

A random patient of a hospital in Thane, near Mumbai, had this to say about his experience at the hospital,

I am (name hidden) from thane. I got dengue on 26 july 2010 i was admitted on 28 july 2010 in (Name Hidden) hospital. After doing test doctor said it is anti malira and it course of anti malaria. On 30 july i got discharge. After 2 days i got head pain showed in same hospital he told take out ct scan & mri of brain. On 13 august i got loose motion and vomating again admitted to same hospital for 4 days after also were not comform about what happening.after that i got stomach pain and head pain. Then we show all reports to other doctor in (Name hidden) hospital doctor said that another doctor has done wrong course of medicine. After test doctor that due to infection in stomach due to wrong medicine taken my complain on my of dr (Name hidden) which waste my days & due i have to bear pain

This man does not seem like a regular user of Internet by his language, but then that only goes on to highlight his suffering and desperation to get justice for the wrong that purportedly was done to him. Even though I did not scour the entire Internet and the Social media for the number of people who had shared the story, I could easily find at least four or five sites/blogs who had taken up the cause. I do not know whether the hospital has even noticed this post by one of their patients much less responded to it.

To give the benefit of doubt to the hospital, maybe, it did not happen the way the patient has described it or maybe it is all an attempt by a competing hospital to tarnish the reputation of the said hospital. But the sad fact is that every time a person is reading the post of this patient, the hospital is losing credibility and maybe a patient.

For all the benefits of advertisement and promotional expenditure made by a company or a positive article about the company in the media, one negative post by a user can damage a company’s business irreparably.

Social Media – Social media in it’s broadest sense is any media which allows for social interaction or exchange of user generated content. So it can range from niche forums, groups, social networking websites like Facebook, MySpace, Orkut and Twitter and personal blogs. Most people, rather businesses presume that the social interaction does not have far reaching consequences and hence is not required. What they have forgotten is the age old marketing technique of “Word of Mouth”. Social media is nothing but a word of mouth build up of a brands reputation. Only difference is that in case of social media the word spreads much faster and is not bound by the geographical limits. In fact it is universal.

Social Media Presence – Even today most small businesses and some big business houses as well, do not have social media presence. Call it arrogance or ignorance; they are just not realizing what a load of opportunity costs they are suffering. In the olden days, the very same businesses used to have a customer satisfaction feedback system in place, wherein they would ask the customers to rate their product or/and services. Some of them still do. But what the higher management in these businesses has not understood is that the system had its lacunae. For one, most customers thought it to be waste of time. Secondly the system was very easy to game. Employees could get together and weed out the negative feedback at will. And to think that the only time the business was engaging the customer was just before and after making the sale.

Social media these days offers an opportunity to the businesses to engage with prospective as well as existing customers on a regular basis. To top it all it is free, mostly unless you start paid marketing online.

There are many social media websites which can be used for engagement with your customers. One needs to identify the websites depending on their business, region and objectives. Your social media presence comprises of creating business profiles on such websites and then following it up with updates regarding new products, news, press releases and of course when required public relations and responses to public reaction on some events. Effectively used the social media can provide you with a handy tool to not only enhance your business but also to avert adverse publicity because of a frustrated user or just some competitor trying to sabotage your brand. By quickly responding to a negative conversation on your brand, you can mitigate the damage such negative conversations can have on your brand’s reputation.

After you have created a public profile for your business, you need to create a following and the best way to do it is frank and honest communications. Even amongst the followers, though you need to treat them equally, there are users who you can identify as influencers, i.e. people who are experts in the subject or those who have a tremendous loyal following. Such influencers need to be engaged with, promoted and positively utilised to serve your interests.

Another important issue which many businesses have not utilised is having a business, company or corporate blog. A blog allows you to unashamedly talk about your company; it is your blog, after all. You can use it to give details of products, upcoming events, promotions and your corporate social responsibility initiatives. A blog also has the advantage of being easily optimised for search engines by way of constantly changing content, something a website can not allow you to do. Therefore a blog can be used as a channel to get your customers to your website. A blog also gives you the opportunity to reward your employees by speaking about their achievements and how they made a difference and finally your own employees can be used to not only contribute to the blog but also to spread the word about it through their own personal blogging or social networking efforts.

Social Media Reputation Management

Even if one does not have a proactive, outbound social media policy, one still needs to know what people are talking about your brand, your competitors and your individual products or services. We saw in the example above, how a user started a negative conversation and the same was picked up by a few other websites. There is every chance that a negative conversation explodes into a publicity nightmare for a business. Therefore one has to take prompt corrective action at the earliest suitable opportunity effectively nipping the issue in the bud. Unfortunately action can be taken only when one comes to know about such negative conversations starting. This is where the aspect of “listening” to conversations on the social media comes into play. If you do have a social media presence, chances are that a conversation in your network will reach your eyes pretty soon. But what if you are not part of the network where such a conversation starts. In this case you need dedicated professionals, who may or may not be your employees, to keep a watch on the social media networks across the board and apprise you of such developments.

How Does One Do It?

It sounds like a tall order to manage so many activities, networks and people at the same time. But it is not so difficult. There are social media management tools, paid as well as free ones, which can help you get started. The social media is getting inter-twined and is allowing a networking of networks. You can use tools to post status updates to multiple sites with one click of the mouse. There are social media alert tools available which will alert you to any conversation about your brand on any or selected networks. There are tools available to counter negative publicity about your brand. It is all out there, what one needs to do is develop a strategy, pick up the right tools and then do the right things.

About The Author

Varinder Taprial is an independent consultant on Search Engine Optimization, Corporate Blogging and Social Media management. He can be contacted at

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What A Judgment? Fan Club Exemption!!

In a recent judgment, the Chennai High Court has exempted 80% of the income spent on fan clubs by a South Indian film star citing the expenditure as necessary to maintain his popularity amongst his fans and for promoting his profession. This has come as a good news for big celebrities amongst them film stars, cricket stars etc. But I wonder why the order does not extend to other people who spend money to enhance their popularity in their professions.

Take for instance, the money you spend on your clothes which you wear to work. Aren't you wearing decent clothes to work so as to maintain your popularity amongst your colleagues and the superiors. Try going to your work place in tatters and you will be ticked off immediately, if not fired. Why should this expense not be exempted?

In fact everything about you, the kind of house you are staying in, the locality, the car you drive, the luxury you can afford in a way promotes your profession. No one is enticed to follow the profession of a guy who lives in a chawl, and does not have access to the the materialistic goodies of life.

In this era of sycophancy it is important to have a fan club in each and every profession. You need subordinates who will say yes and support you in your innovative, even stupid ideas to move up in life. One also needs superiors who will overlook your mistakes and still give you good reports in the annual appraisals. Don't these groups of subordinates or superiors form a fan club for the individual and whatever money one spends on them, parties, dinners, birthday gifts etc should be exempt from taxation. And what about that Tiara or a new dress one's wife buys for attending the company party and enhancing your popularity in the company circles.

Take the logic a bit further. One's children are their biggest fans. And, by God, you do need to maintain your popularity with them and parenthood is a full time profession. So next time you buy that PS3 or Nintendo, remember to put it in your exemptions. Will this happen? Fat chance!!

We should stop and wonder why this judgment came through. Is the judiciary crazy enough to not recognize the implications of this order? No it is the money talking. The plaintiff had money to fight the case for more than five years. He had enough money to hire a good lawyer. He had enough clout to swing the argument in his favor, assuming that he did not buy the judge off. He sure had enough time to wait for the right, buyable one, to come along.

There are enough people in this country who know things are wrong, who want to set things right, who want to fight and present their arguments to the judiciary but they just do not have the time and the money to go through the process. That is why the Rich get their way and the others just have to comply with the regulations and rules which in all probability have been left behind by the Britishers when they left the country.

This judgement, if upheld, will be the greatest slap on the face of the Indian Common man, who will not only spend money on being a fan but also bear the brunt of paying more taxes because his star will not be paying the taxes he/she owes to the government. The Rich get richer and the Poor get poorer.

Laloo's fans! Anyone?

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