The facebook fiasco

Few months ago I wrote a similar post on this: Truth according to the internet, a real-life horror story. Why didn’t anyone put proper research before questioning Mark? He got away so easy. He lied about things like facebook doesn’t have a monopoly, given that it owns instagram and whatsapp. And there is most certainly not an easy way to delete your facebook. One has to go through the timeline and delete each post/comment individually. And some activity cannot be deleted, but only “hidden from timeline” or made private. The data you shared during signup to other apps using facebook cannot be deleted. Also there is only a “deactivate account” option and when you login again, it is back. There is no “delete account” option that deletes instantaneously (takes upto 90 days) or deletes all of the content like sent messages in other people’s phones/accounts.

The real questions are:

  1. There was a feature recently disabled after this fiasco, which lets anyone look up someone using their phone number or email. The estimate is that all people using facebook have had their profiles scraped. Is there a way to find out who owns such data and also make them delete it?
  2. How much access do the developers at facebook have on the private data. What are the security/privacy practices followed at facebook? Mark dodged this. But the standard development practice is to have developers work on copies of the data during development, which are usually scrambled to remove private data like phone numbers and email addresses.

The truth is, so many of the best minds in the world are recruited by the top dogs at silicon valley and put to work to solve one problem. How to make the most money out of users’ private data by selling ads. Sure, they are building products, making lives easier for millions of people. But the end goal remains the same. To sell ads.

The best example is google which made 84%+ of their revenue from ads and is now worth $700 billion. Google tracks every google search you made, every page visited in Chrome, every place you searched on maps, youtube history and even the apps you opened in android. Just visit https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity to see your search history from 2014.

And don’t get me started on the apps that silently track you and don’t provide a page like this to let you view what they know about you.

What the fitness?

Hi, I am 27 and I sprained my shoulder lifting up a bucket of water. And recently, I couldn’t climb twelve floors of stairs without stopping once. I fucked up.

Twelve years ago, I was doing karate three times a week, sometimes playing soccer, was in the national cadet corps and was cycling kilometers to and from school. These days, I am wiped out after 5 PM even though my entire work involves just sitting and coding.

To my body’s credit, I haven’t put up a lot of weight. And all the weight I have gained is in my belly. Just a skinny dude with a paunch. I am against body shaming, but I see all these people at work having a blast working out everyday and can’t help but feel a little ashamed. I don’t really care about looking good or getting buff or being able to run 20 kilometers (like WTF coworkers?). I just want to be able to climb stairs and lift buckets of water.

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Do you even lift bro? I am getting tired lifting my own body weight, mate!

Anyway, I’ve been researching for the past few hours. I’m putting together a basic workout routine that I can follow at home. In theory, it should hit most parts of the body and should be able to bring my lungs and decrepit nervous system back in shape.

Pushups – chest, shoulders, triceps

Squats – legs and booty

Situps – ab region

Dumbbell shoulder press – shoulders

Dumbbell bicep curls – biceps

Planks

I’ll keep track of everything here – what works and what doesn’t and constantly modify the routine to include better workouts as I learn about this fitness thing. True to the nature of this blog, I’ll have to keep it a secret, but this time to see if anybody I know notices any difference by looking at me. I’m excited!

What trying to learn the guitar has taught me

Being able to play a musical instrument was a childhood dream of mine. Unfortunately, my family couldn’t afford to buy one.

Two years ago,  around the time I started this blog, I felt completely lost in life – a quarter life crisis. On a whim, I bought a guitar. I didn’t even check if the guitar was ok, I wouldn’t know how!. I just trusted the guy at the store who inspected it, played a couple of tunes and handed it to me.

I was eager to learn from day one and did not know where to start. Everybody online suggested JustinGuitar. I glanced through the beginner’s course, which is exactly as it sounds –  you should be able to listen, identify and play the basic chords with few strumming patterns and a few songs based on those chords.

The beginner’s devastation

Week one, I went through few videos in the beginners’ course and learnt to play three chords – no songs, just the chords, at an extremely slow pace, with errors. After putting in several hours over the week, I was disappointed. My fingertips which held the strings down were in pain. Surely, I was missing something? It cannot be this hard. I went through the forum for tips on the course. People stated as a matter of fact that the beginners course would take a year to complete. I was devastated.

YouTube is a fascinating place for any beginner who is trying to learn guitar. There are tons of great guitar videos and musicians – well known in real life or just internet famous. These guitarists play amazing songs without breaking a sweat. What nobody told me about was the thousands of hours they spent practicing over the years. What nobody tells you is that to learn to play a song perfectly, is to be patient and practice the song in pieces, over hundreds of times.

And my first song took a month. It was the theme song of game of thrones. It was the most beginner version possible, picked note by note, and sounded like the ringtone of a 90s phone. I was proud of this achievement. And then I quit playing for the next four months.

It’s complicated

I learnt a few things during my time of giving up on guitar. That my fingertips had hardened and the pain had become insignificant. That playing one hour everyday during a week is better than playing five hours on one day and not playing for the rest of the week. Muscle memory takes days to develop and not hours. I just needed time and a lot of patience to see things through.

I learnt that playing a small part of the song at an extremely slow pace without errors and then gradually increasing the speed is the right way to practice. There are no shortcuts. As a beginner, I have to accept that I cannot play complicated songs and it is not going to sound like those YouTube guys, not in the first few years at least. There is no law that I have to complete a beginner’s book or an online course. I should just try learning any song that I want to learn and see where it takes me.

During this time, I was obsessed with watching YouTube guitar videos. I realized that I am never going to sing or perform for anyone. Not that I wished to. I never had any dreams of becoming a rockstar or to play in a band. I just wanted to play for myself to hear and nobody else. I needed an escape, to keep myself occupied.

Back to guitar

When I finally picked up the guitar again, I couldn’t play the song that I learnt. The pain in my fingertips were back. But I kept watching YouTube guitar lessons. I practiced bits and pieces of songs. Over the next year, I was able to learn 13 songs. Not without errors, maybe not at the right tempo, but it did sound like music to me. There were times that I had to practice the same song so many times that I developed a strange ever-so-slight dislike of the song.

Why am I writing this?

So that I can come back here to read this again in future, to remember what’s going on in my mind right now. I was pleasantly surprised today, because a couple of days back, my team at work asked me to play for them. But I couldn’t as I’ve never played for anyone before. So, I decided to make a video and send it to them.

The people at work loved it! I am in shock. Looking at the video, I now realize that I’ve never truly recognized my progress before, however little it was.

I do hope that one day, I become good enough to not call myself a beginner anymore and be able to learn a new song in few days or even write my own songs. Even if that day is years from now, I am ok with it. Till then, I’ll tell myself to be patient as everybody’s journey is different because everyone is different.