Arkiv for English

My Indian publisher’s website…


…is now well and truly launched, and you’ll find it at Shabd books. This is also the first time I’ve seen the cover of the Hindi version of “Life in the Universe”. Hindi is the 19th language my books have been translated into, which makes me quite proud, actually. I think I’ll celebrate by making a lovely Aloo Palak tonight. I used to hate spinach when I was a kid – I should have taken up Indian food much earlier. :-)

I Think It’s Gonna Be A Long Long Time …

Or as Jon Stewart said the other week: a 73 year old white, conservative male – all the change America is ready for?

The face of health…

According to this study, having a cat (as we all know, we don’t own them) reduces your risk of a heart attack by almost a third:

Cat owners “appeared to have a lower rate of dying from heart attacks” over 10 years of follow-up compared to feline-free folk, Qureshi said. The magnitude of the effect — a 30 percent reduction in heart attack risk — “was a little bit surprising,” he added. “We certainly expected an effect, because we thought that there was a biologically plausible mechanism at work. But the magnitude of the effect was hard to predict.”

Now take a look at the guy above, who is part of my work environment, and tell me that it isn’t so. I’m just wondering whether having two means a 60 % reduction? ;-) (Via Slashdot)

Wishful Thinking 3.0

According to Newsweek, “the expert is back”. People now crave reliable information, preferably created by paid professionals. What’s more, expert-created content is Web 3.0. And exhibit no. 1 is * drumrolls * Google Knol. You know, the Wikipedia-killer that was launched last December amid great fanfare, and which still has only one (1) article/knol on offer. If you want to read up on insomnia, Google Knol is definitely the place to be. For the rest of human knowledge, Wikipedia still rules.

If Knol doesn’t satisfy you, you could always enter a search term in Mahalo, a brand new “people-powered search engine” that is “based on quality and vetted by real people” (how this model differs from your run-of-the-mill user generated content eludes me). When I search for my surname, Newt Gingrich is the top hit. Do the same in Google, and the Newth family website gets highest ranking. So much for real people, apparently…

But seriously: it’s really too bad that this is such an amateurishly researched hack piece. As a professional writer and blogger, I am occasionally paid for writing stuff that ends up on the web, and of course I hope that this will evolve into new business models. I just don’t trust former AOL executives or Andrew Keen to tell me how it will be accomplished. Keen’s statement really is a gem, even for him: “Nobody wants to advertise next to crap.” Right. Which is why Adsense is such a failure. ;-)

The best of both worlds

A nebula that looks like a cat’s paw print! Now if they could only find a nebula that looked like this… :-)

Google Maps as a traveller’s aid

Before we travelled to Kerala recently, we naturally googled and read up on our destinations, and found useful tips on sites such as Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree and Wikitravel. What you usually don’t get in written material, though, is a visual sense of a place. Flickr is an immensely rich source of pictures of exotic locations, but most pictures (including my own, I have to admit) are still not geotagged. Which is where Google Maps enters the picture.

Although the image quality varies a lot, there’s no reason not to check out your destination. Shown above is a satellite image of the immediate area sourrounding our hotel in Fort Cochin, Ballard Bungalow (a lovely place and highly recommended, btw). By clicking and dragging, you can take a virtual walk around the neigbourhood and check out the distance to the famous chinese nets, for instance (in this case, click and drag the picture a couple of frames to the right to see them). Or see how far away the nearest bus station or ferry jetty is.

The first time I did this was last year, before we travelled to Malta and I wanted to check out the sights, beaches and transportation options of Bugibba. Google Maps can also give you a trip down memory lane. This is the hotel in Zanzibar where we spent part our honeymoon, for instance. Yes, it is pretty isolated, isn’t it? :-)

I just couldn’t resist…

…this brilliant mashup of two things that really occupy my mind at the moment. And who knows, maybe a hindi-speaking reader could enlighten me as to what BollyBama is saying? ;-) (Via BoingBoing)

My publisher and Jostein Gaarder on CNN IBN

My book “Life in the universe” was recently published in English by Delhi-based Shabd Books, which also publishes notable authors such as Jostein Gaarder and Philip Pullman. This clip from the Indian business network CNN IBN shows Jostein (enthusiastic as always) and Mahesh Dutt, who is my publisher. I actually prefer having my publisher appearing on a business channel, rather than your average book show. As a professional writer who gets by without any government grants (a rarity in Norway, it has to be said), sales matter to me. Even more so in a market where the listed price of my book is 25 times lower than the Norwegian price. :-)

Response to my visit at Vasant Valley School

It’s always useful to get feedback on my lectures, but I especially appreciate this description of my visit to Vasant Valley School in New Dehli on February 4th. A student called Amira seems to like the fact that my presentation was unconventional for an author:

Yet, to my surprise, he interacted with us in a very unique way. He did not read to us, but explained to us what his book was about in a friendly and illustrative manner. I really appreciated the way he treated the situation as if he were in natural conversation with us and was always open to any criticism or questions we came up with. He had many interesting comments to make and told us extremely captivating facts.

My interactive QA-style of presentation is mostly used in classrooms, where the audience is smaller and more willing to respond. It worked very well in all three Indian schools I visited, and I was impressed by the academic level and breadth of knowledge demonstrated by the pupils. India is on the move, and from a Norwegian perspective schools like Vasant Valley, Alcon International and St. Mary’s Convent School is obviously part of the reason.