Friday, January 7, 2011

Light theraphy might help

Did Santa bring you a bad case of the midwinter blues? In that case, light therapy may just be what the doctor ordered against what is officially known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. However, Dutch researchers have now proved that light therapy may also benefit patients of over 60 suffering from a serious ‘normal’ depression. This particular demographic gets outside less often and also cannot see as much light as those with younger eyes.


Earlier this week, the results of more than five years’ worth of research into the effect of light therapy on depression were published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. The research team, led by Ritsaert Lieverse, treated 89 patients over 60 who were suffering from a serious depression. Each morning for a period of three weeks, about half of them were exposed to one hour of ‘early morning bright blue’ light using a commercially available special lamp covered with a bright blue-permitting filter. The other half of the group, which served as a control group, was also given an hour of additional light using the same lamp covered in a dim red-permitting filter. Neither the patients nor the staff handing out the lamps were aware of the purpose of the lamps.

Placebo effect

The treatment resulted in a reduction of depressive symptoms in 43 percent of the patients involved. Surprisingly, the researchers also found a reduction of depressive symptoms in 36 percent of the patients in the control group, which they said could be explained by the placebo effect. So in other words a seven-percent net profit, which many people would not consider a remarkable result, but research leader Lieverse said was still ’significant’.
The research team says it is impossible to determine exactly why an extra dose of daylight should lead to a reduction of depressive symptoms. According to Dr Lieverse “It could have something to do with the stress hormone – light therapy helps bring the disrupted stress hormone system back to normal. There was also a clear improvement in the patients’ biorhythm.

It will be quite some time before light therapy finds its way into the regular treatment circuit for elderly depressive patients - or gets covered by health insurance companies. Dr Lieverse warns seriously depressed elderly people against experimenting with light therapy at home. “There is a number of counter-indications, both physical and psychiatric. Light therapy should take place under the guidance of a psychiatrist”. As examples of possible side-effects, the doctor cited eye damage and an increase in suicidal thoughts.

Day Opening - January 7

Salvador de Bahai, Brazil

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Some photos of Ahmedabad

It has been a long time since I updated this space. I welcomed 2011 on a hopeful note and was busy the days preceding the new year and days succeeding it.

A cousin came visiting and we had a fabulous time shopping in the walled area of Ahmedabad. Sharing some photos.

The fabric Ahmedabad is so famous for...

Oxodized jewellery. This is a rage during Navratri, our nine-day-long dance festival.

Day Opening - January 6

eclipse this week and view on international space station

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Create your own Wikileaks

The success of WikiLeaks has encouraged many people to start similar projects. Their main motive is to expose wrongdoing, either at the local or national level.
But it’s more complicated than you might think to set up this kind of website. There are three parties involved: the source, the website and the journalist. Each needs the others, but is also independent. Below are a number of tips and suggestions for a DIY WikiLeaks. But be aware of what you’re getting into. It’s like chess: you always have to think a few moves ahead. And never lose sight of your own safety.

What’s the safest way for sources to supply documents?

There are different degrees of risk attached to different types of information. Even a simple letter can be traced back to the location it was posted from. Bear in mind that, if it’s intercepted, a letter might carry fingerprints, and the post office may have security cameras. Digitise the documents and destroy the originals. If the authenticity of the documents comes into question, there are plenty of forensic possibilities with the digital version.

How can sources prevent their IP addresses from being recorded?

An internet cafe is an option, but it’s also a risk. Other users can be pressurised into revealing information about you, or there might be security cameras. It’s not our preferred option. A Tor network (originally an abbreviation of ‘The Onion Router’) is a possible solution. Tor is an encryption system developed to enable anonymous internet traffic. The technique prevents eavesdroppers from seeing that any communication is taking place, let alone with whom. The software is free.
Alternatively you could use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) or add Open Proxies abroad.

How do you set up a WikiLeaks site?

The technology is the easy part - what you have to dig a little deeper for are the ideals, willpower and nerve. Plus people who support and believe in the project, and also believe in the possibility of change.

Is it an advantage or a disadvantage if the people involved know each other?

View the team around a whistle-blowing site as a movement made up of different cores. Work goes more smoothly if you have a few familiar people around. But the fewer people who know each other the better. It’s not a social club. Make your friends at the pub.

How safe is it for a WikiLeaks team to communicate using chat channels?

It might be safe. Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is secure enough if you work via other servers and bouncers (BNC). But be on your guard for the unexpected. Here too a Tor network is safer.

How can the WikiLeaks team guarantee its sources’ anonymity?

• Servers should never make log files.

• Remove all metadata from files you receive – either automatically or as quickly as possible (metadata may include information on who created the document and where it was sent from, and is not always visible).

• Files should then be encrypted or taken offline as soon as possible, or constantly transferred from one storage location to another.
If you take all of these precautions, even members within the leaks site will be unable to trace the source.

How can the WikiLeaks team ensure its servers are secure?

Some important standard procedures:
• Use an up-to-date operating system on the server

• Use the latest version of crucial software such as Apache

• Work via an SSH and turn off things like FTP and direct admin

• Never ever work from the root account

• Make sure you have a good firewall

• Use multiple server locations
It’s often easier for governments to block a domain name than shut down an entire server. Locate your server in a country where legislation makes it virtually impossible to confiscate it. Host your server yourself or know who’s hosting it.


VPN: Via a VPN (Virtual Private Network) you can create a secure network within an existing one – like the internet. VPN is a solution if you want to send data via an internal network.

A website can be partially secured via an SSL/TLS connection (Secure Sockets Layer and the improved Transport Layer Security). With authentication you can control access to a servers’ secure connection. You can recognise an SSL certificate by the ‘s’ on the end of http(s). Bear in mind that in some countries data encryption is illegal. Check the law where you are.

Where is it safe to locate the servers?

The European Union’s Data Retention Directive requires providers to store data for at least six months. Check how the directive is applied in your country.
There are fewer and fewer places you can safely locate a server. The law is also changing fast. As the number of WikiLeaks projects increases, the danger is that more and more countries will amend their legislation.
France, however, is adopting a tolerant approach towards WikiLeaks.

What should the WikiLeaks team do with the information it receives?

It’s not wise to put leaked information straight online. There’s a risk that it may not be relevant and you could harm people unintentionally. The data could be corrupted by irrelevant information and spam.

Step 1:

Receive the documents. Go through them in a first selection round. If in doubt, let a document go through. You can reject an instruction manual, for example, but you should keep it if it has unusual page numbering. Don’t look at the content too much – don’t be distracted by your own opinion.

Step 2:

Write a three-line summary of each document and add it to the file. Ask sources (via the website) in advance to write a brief explanation. Save the explanation and the summary together.

Step 3:

If you know journalists who are willing and brave enough to publish the information, you can show them the summaries. If not, try to make contact with one or more international organisations, such as human rights groups or trade unions. Don’t send the whole team to see them, choose just a few delegates.

If you really can’t find anyone else to do it, you’ll have to write something yourself and publish it online. However, this is a last resort.

Step 4:

A journalist checks the documents for their authenticity and value according to the generally accepted standards of journalism.

If the team writes the piece themselves, the same standards apply. Check the facts, approach both sides for comment, and write the article on the basis of fact. Your own opinion is irrelevant.

Step 5:

Agree on a date for publication with the journalist. Only release the original documents after publication. Then readers can make up their own minds on the facts and judge their significance.

Once the website is on line, what does the WikiLeaks team need to be prepared for?

Recent weeks have seen repeated DDoS attacks. You can imagine a DDoS as a queue in a store made up of customers who don’t want to buy anything, preventing the real customers from getting to the front. DDoS attacks are hard to combat. Attempts to defend against them simply provoke fresh tactics.

There are a few possible solutions:

• Increase the bandwidth (‘open more tills’)

• Ensure server redundancy and scalability (‘Anycast’)

• Change IP address regularly

How can you tell whether the website is secure enough?

Don't be complacent. Invite people you trust to try and hack or disable the website. Nothing teaches you more than a hacked website. Learn from errors you made and improve the site's reliability and safety.

How does the WikiLeaks team keep itself out of harm’s way?

Never forget the government has experts too. Always think one step ahead. Keep abreast of technical and legal developments.
Be a movement, not an organisation. Then you can carry on if you lose one link in the chain.
Stay in control, but to some degree allow the process to run its course.
Maintain mutual anonymity. Divide tasks. External contacts shouldn’t know programmers and vice versa. Always look out for your own safety.

source: RNW

Day Opening - January 5


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cavernous Resorts: luxury in the caves

Mountaineering may not be your thing, but strike a more than slightly sumptuous balance by booking into the Yunak Evleri Cave Hotel. The five-star resort has 30 rooms renovated from 5th and 6th century ancient chambers in the Cappadocia region of Turkey.

Restored and modernized to house an unrivaled resort experience, the Yunak Evleri Cave Hotel has all of the expected amenities of accommodations of its caliber. The interior design is derived from an Ottoman Empire aesthetic of the Middle Ages, incarnated into more contemporary antique replica furnishings.

Day Opening - January 3

fisherman in the Amazone by Andre Baertschi

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What trend watchers, visionaries and astrologists predicts for 2011.

The US economy will pick up, two Latin American presidents may face collapse, the Middle East will confront “crushing dangers” and sandals may be worn with a suit: a sample of the most relevant, and oddest, predictions for 2011.
Beginning in the Netherlands, trend watcher Adjiedj Bakas expects the next decade will be much like the 1980s: drastic budget cuts, falling real estate prices and threatened pensions. This year, bargaining will be popular, as will vegetable gardens and electric cars. Bakas, the 2009 trend watcher of the year, also predicts the euro’s eventual demise.
Exit Facebook

Pink, however, will be definitely out, according to Bakas, with purple facing the same fate. Orange, in whatever hue, will be popular—despite last year’s World Cup football fiasco.
Like Bakas, Dutch daily De Telegraaf expects the allotment will be cool, at the expense of this year’s rage, growing cannabis. And this year will hark back to the 70s, the country’s biggest paper purports. Most shocking of all perhaps: Facebook will be out, to be replaced by that bygone relic, the old-fashioned family.


Unlike Holland, Latin America boasts a long tradition predicting the future, with soothsayers, visionaries and astrologists flooding the media towards year’s end.
Venezuela’s Davil Goncalve, better known as King David, predicts that five Latin American presidents will face rebellions, with two of them making the narrowest of escapes.

Black Cat

No less catholic in his vaticinations, Mexico’s Wenseslao Flores Xalas, the Black Cat warns: “Evil will spread across the world. Next year will also witness events relating to climate change with devastating consequences.”
Like their Mexican counterparts, soothsayers in Kenya see 2011 through a glass darkly. For Isaac Sagala, in Nairobi, this year is bound to be “complicated”. Another diviner, forebodes widespread famine due to drought, not, alas, such a fanciful fear.
Another augur foresees that the International Criminal Court in The Hague will convict six Kenyans for their role in post-election violence in 2007. Both Kenya’s government and parliament, the sage forewarns, will be powerless to prevent the convictions.
In North America, opinions regarding 2011 are sharply divided. CBS’s best reporters, who last year accurately predicted events in 2010, completely disagree on this year, including developments in Afghanistan or the winner of the World Series. An American-Indian commentator for CNN, Time and the Washington Post is moderately optimistic, suggesting the American economy will improve, Europe will survive and the conflict with Iran will fail to escalate. Two cheers for 2011, he says, in what he calls his “glass-half-full column” for Time Magazine.

Natural disasters

In her latest best-seller, the most popular astrologer in the Arab World, Lebanon’s Magi Farah, predicts 2011 will see “crushing dangers”. Tunisian astrologer Hasan al-Charni forebodes nothing but gloom and doom, too, but knows why: the first four months of the year will be quiet only to be followed by a series of natural disasters, terrorist attacks, a coup in Pakistan and a fresh war between Hizbollah and Israel during the holy month of Ramadan.
A so-called "real estate bubble blow-off schedule” circulating widely on the internet predicts that China’s real estate bubble will burst in 2011. The schedule claims that the Chinese situation is similar to Japan’s before 1991. Their banking systems, population structure and urbanisation rate, many experts say, are rather different, so the "blow-off” may just remain a "prediction”.
Whatever the case, housing prices have been soaring for several years, leaving many Chinese struggling with mortgages and rent, so much so that housing now is one of China’s biggest social problems.


More trivially, Holland’s top trend watcher Bakas is absolutely certain: sandals will be back in fashion, even worn with a suit.

Day Opening - January 2

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul by Imran Rashid

UNOX babe 2011

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Day Opening - New Year's Day

Happy New Year!


At the moment of writing this, 2011 hasn't started yet everywhere around the globe, but by the time you've woken up (possibly with an hangover) I would like to wish all of you a prosperous, successful and most of all a happy and healthy New Year with loads of stuff to read and think about on this blog.

Here's to you as well, dear Hans!!! Keep continuing the good and interesting work...

Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Dip 2011

After a short night’s sleep and a little too much alcohol, hundreds, maybe even thousands of diehards will be stripping off on beaches up and down in the Netherlands to take to the freezing cold waters for the first time in 2011. Fourteen out of the 90 official New Year’s Dips have been cancelled because of the icy conditions, but the main event in Scheveningen, sponsored by UNOX, will be going ahead.

The 80-year-old Ok van Batenburg organised the first dip on Zandvoort beach in 1960. Back then his family doctor warned him the human body could not take such a shock to the system. Just to make sure he practised on Boxing Day 1959. The worst year so far was 1963. It was minus ten degrees Celcius and they only got as far as their knees before withdrawing. His tip for this year is “Make sure you wear clothes you can get in and out of quickly.”
On the picture, Lucia Prins, UNOX Babe 2010. Tomorrow we will know who the UNOX babe 2011 is.))
source: rwn

Dutch politician writes anti-Islam book

Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders will publish an anti-Islam book in the first half of 2011, he told  in an interview today.

“The book is aimed mainly at the US market and focuses on how to combat the spread of Islam on a global level. We can do a lot here in the Netherlands, but we want to send out a strong international signal to the Arab world that a party in the centre of power in this country is fighting back,” Mr Wilders said.
His Freedom Party cherishes “a wide range” of ambitions, he says in the interview. “Our first priority is to launch the International Freedom Alliance, which boils down to a platform against Islam. That will be huge.”
The book will be Mr Wilders’ second, after the publication in 2005 of a short autobiography, titled Kies voor vrijheid (Choose for Freedom).
Curious what the reactions will be...

Day Opening - Deecember 31 - the last one of this year

2010 ticks away

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

6 years blog anniversary

This blog exist since December 2004, already 6 years!