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Hard Disk Anywhere!!!
Ajit Rajkumar

Having been continuously in the close proximity of computers over the last five years, I've seen quite a few cases of the dreaded "Hard Disk Crash" syndrome, but when my own data dropped out recently from the computer I was using,... the wonderful world of the "WEB" stepped right in.

Sometime ago, a search on askjeeves.com turned up swapdrive.com as one of the replies to my query. I visited the site and was really intrigued with the concept these people had come up with ~ a medium of data storage beyond conventional means, offering free space to store files, thus doing away at least partially with the tedious and unreliable old method of transferring data through floppies.

At the writing of this article, free space offered by such sites ranges from 3-300 megabytes. Some also focus on providing users with an easy way to share files: by either making some space accessible to others, or by direct transfer to folders in another person's account. These are a great improvement over using email for transfer of large files, but while most of the services require only a modern browser, some require one to download software specific to either Windows or Macintosh.

When I first visited one of these web sites, it didn't look too impressive in terms of presentation, but I went along to find out more about the concepts behind it. Sites like Swapdrive basically require an individual to register with them and you get to have your name and password just like an email account. The rest is easy ~ all one has to do is click on the upload button and specify the path from where your file has to be uploaded and then just sit back and relax until the the upload gets done!!!

The same principle applies for downloading a file or folder from the site, and hierarchy or file structure is similar to Windows so there is no problem in file management.

Swapdrive offers 25megs of free space on registration with 5megs more for each successful new referral. I've currently managed about 40 mb for myself (though the glib side is that to get in the realm of 1 GB would need you to sponsor about a 1000 people!!!). Sites like "FreeDiskspace" offer a fabulous 300megs for a start, with 5megs extra for every successful referral. Other websites like Backup.com (mainly targeted at corporates) require users to pay a nominal fee for use of their storage facilities, but profess of a higher security level for users.

The compilation below is of some of the sites presently offering data-storage on the net, which should give the reader a pretty good idea of the kind of services being provided:

DiskWise.com ~ currently in public beta. You get 20 megs of storage and up to 50 with referrals. They keep a version history and you can share files with others. You can also get email notices when new files are uploaded
docSpace.com has two separate free services ~ DocSpace Drive, offering 25 megs of Internet file storage, and docSpace Express, providing means to send and receive large files without using e-mail attachments
Driveway.com ~ 25 megs of space and users can earn up to 100 megs by referring friends and taking surveys. You can share your files with anyone
SwapDrive.com ~ 25 megs of free space on signup, increased by 5 mb with every referral. Also offers a service called Powerdrive which facilitates direct download of files from the website to your Swapdrive account
FileMonkey ~ 10 megs of free storage space that can be used with any modern browser regardless of operating system
FilesAnywhere ~ have upped the ante in the free storage game. You get 50 megs of free storage space and can directly transfer files to other users on the FilesAnywhere servers
FloppyCenter ~ 10 megs when you register and you can earn up to 60 megs by referring friends. You can share files and send email notices to those you wish to access the files. Uses a simple and straightforward interface
FreeDiskSpace.com ~ 300 megs of free file storage, and you can earn unlimited storage by referring friends. You can choose to share or not share individual folders. They have five different varieties of their service customized to different types of files or operating systems including mp3 files
FreeDrive ~ 50 megs of online file storage. You sign up for free and you can upload and download from your browser. Use to access your files remotely or share files with others.
i-drive ~ 25 megs (50 megs for MP3.com members) of space and a sophisticated interface. You can share files with other users and synchronize folders on your i-drive with folders on your local computer. Store Web pages directly and also use some of your space to publish Web pages. They have a deal with MP3.com for direct transfer of MP3 files
Backup ~ 200 megs of free storage and folder-level transfer. So far it only works with Windows but they are working on Mac and Unix versions. Encryption is used for transfers, but the system still seems remarkably fast
idrop.com ~ 50 megs (75 megs if you provide more demographic information) of space and a very clean, easy to use interface. File sharing and other services due soon
iMacFloppy.com ~ 3 megs of storage space usable by Mac or PC users
Internet FileZone ~10 megs of space with a Windows Explorer like interface - requires Windows95, 98 or NT
JustOn ~ 50 megs of storage. They have a clean interface that allows you to easily upload, download and share files
My Docs Online ~ share your files even when others don't have an account and track shared files access too. Windows drag and drop without extra software with special emphasis on file security. You get 20 megs of space
myplay.com ~ 250 megs (yes 250) of free MP3 file storage. You can transfer mp3s directly from the Web or from your hard drive. They have many features to make working with MP3 files easier. You can only store MP3 files
NetDocuments ~ allows you to store, access and share your documents using the Net. You get 10 megs of space for free, and security through login and SSL
netdrive.com ~ offers 100 megs of space and requires a software download that allows you to access the space as if it were on your system. Works with Windows 95 and 98. They are working on versions for NT and Mac. You can make some of your files publicly accessible including pictures with automatic thumbnails
XDrive ~ 25 megs of storage and a choice of downloading software to use the service or using just the online version. You can earn up to 100 megs by referring friends and visiting the site. Windows 95, 98 or NT is required
backup.com ~ this service provides space for a $99 fee. Claims to provide good security for stored files.

One aspect that these providers will all be watching very carefully is the rate at which high speed access becomes widely available.With the advent of cable net, speeds have dramatically increased, and this will probably yield two major effects. It will make these applications more popular because of faster transfer speeds, and for the same reason the average amount of storage space used per account will grow.

Ultimately, though all of these services seem to be useful, the question of security inevitably comes up when trusting someone else with your data. All of the services use password security and a few also use SSL (Web encryption), although it slows down file transfers. However, with even the best security I wouldn't personally store top secret files with any third party.

Mujik! Mujik! Mujik!
Dr. Raghutama Opeh
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Music Technology has made unbelievable advances. But Music stands still.

The first man-made music consisted of spontaneous rhythmic howls, screams and shouts following pleasant happenings in the food gathering days. Rhythm was inherent in nature's cycles of the Sun, Earth, moon, tides of the sea, body vibrations of animals and humans .. heartbeat and breathing.

Fruits left in the open, having fermented spontaneously, made the early man happy . not to speak of 'highs' given by chewing of certain leaves. The resultant expressions of happiness were vocal interjections accompanied by jumping, running, rolling, rhythmic clapping etc. [rudimentary dancing]. Dance and music were always an inseparable unity. No African 'song' is complete without dance..

Seeing seeds from fruits etc sprouting and growing into trees led to agriculture. Cyclic nature of food production and harvesting/gathering - man's original economic activity gave free time between harvesting and sowing. Guarding against wild animals became less of a problem as agriculture was done in flat plains rather than in forests.

Development of language was a natural corollary to the sudden leisure that agriculture gave. People had enough time for 'gup-shup'. Festivals based on agro activities - diwali, holi, pongal, onam, ugadi, durga puja etc were born. Festivities meant dancing and singing.

Musical instruments made from hollow vegetable shells, fruits, reeds etc. followed as leisure activities. Most gourd for ektara and Pumpkin for sitar. Hollow reeds made excellent flutes. Instruments remained at best accompaniments to embellish the meanings and feelings expressed in the lyrics.
Songs not only told stories but also expressed all emotions including dissent and rebellion.

Parallel to social and material developments, music underwent changes. From one note vocals to three notes (of Naga dances of North East India), four note melodies of Egypt and the pentatonic music of Rome were associated with more and more instruments. (the pentatonic Morning Raga). Harmony developed in the form of Tonic-Fifth combination. The triad was to come much later with the evolution of well tempered scale.

Development of metallurgy and other technology not only led to better swords, arrows and shields, but also to better bugles, trumpets, cymbals, bells and drums. Stringed instruments came last.

Music and dance in India mainly belonged to folk tradition and Classical tradition. In the folk tradition came Yakshagana, Baul, Tamasha, Lavanya and harvest dances, spring dances etc. The performance of both classical and folk traditions were done by the lowest of classes/castes. When the performing arts became remunerative, the upper castes/classes took them over completely. The first brahmin to sing in public performance was the venerable Smt. Pattammal of Tamil Nadu and the first brahmin to dance in public performance was Smt. Rukmini Arundale of Theosophical Society, Adayar, Madras in the early 1900s. (Rukmini became a Presidential Candidate in the 70s)

Over the years, the all night elaboration of a raga gave way to one hour concerts with 'alap' lasting for only 5 to 10 minutes. With the dearth of demand for classical music, people stopped getting trained in the traditions.

With the first 'talkie' film Alam Ara, popular music of a new genre took off - Film Music. Initially, it was rooted in classical tradition; but broke away from the disciplined modes under the influence of mujra music. Foreign influence came in the shape of Guitar and Conga, Accordeon, Trumpet, Saxaphone etc. But the actual shake up came with OP Nayyar with his snare drum-Bass accompaniment. in comedy films Aar Paar('53), Mr & Mrs 55 ('55) and Miss Coca Cola by Guru Dutt Padukone!. Bhagam Bhag incidentally had a Nayyar blues sung by Kishore and Rafi. C Ramachandra introduced Rock and Roll with 'Eeena Meema Deeka'.

Genuine western harmonies came with RD Burman though Sam, a malayali assistant to Naushad in Saathi, was from Berkely School of Music. Sam went on to make songs with brilliant orchestration in Malayalam and Tamil films.

Western Popular Music started in India with Jazz. The musicians played for 'gora sahebs' (the hordes that embarked, during the II World War) while they danced in the hotels.,. Jazz bands started in Calcutta, Goa, Bombay and, lastly, Delhi points to the sea route taken by Jazz. Diners danced 3 to 5 piece jazz bands in hotels. There was also a Sunday morning Jam session for the youth. The musicians were mainly Europeans, Anglo-Indians and Christians who had picked up basics of harmony from church hymns.

Dances were organised at Railway Clubs and restaurants and at Church school Socials. It was a rare non Christian who danced 4 beat Foxtrot, 3 beat Waltz, symcopated Rhumba, Samba, Tango, Beguine and the subsequent Cha-Cha-Cha of the Latin Americas. The arrival of Rock and Roll, the hallmark of industrial machinery rhythm, led to the gradual decline in popularity of graceful Latin American dances. The R&R progressed through some ludicrous transient stage best forgotten. dances called, frug, camel etc. R&R then evolved into a free style dance where both the partners were free to his or her thing. While the Europeans and Americans broke free from discipline and regimentation, Latin Americans continued to come out with dances with newer steps like Bossa Nova, Lambada, and, involving the hands as in the recent 'Macarena'-leaving both partners free.

From the mid 60s onwards, college students formed bands and gave concerts of popular songs. Beatle songs were not too popular, being difficult to play. Slowly, ever so slowly, Hindi pop numbers started seeping into concerts, thanks to Usha Uthup (Iyer) who started with songs she sang for films under the baton of RD Burman..

The use of synthetic sounds began with Hammond organ in the early 60s. Then came the Moog Synthesiser, Drum Machines and sequencers. The rest is history.

The next quantum hop-step-and-jump was to Rap by Baba Sehgal with his puerile lyrics. It left behind a lot of styles of music like Reggae and many Latin American styles. Around this period, the rock bands of college origin breathes their last. Indian Ocean and Euphoria persisted against the tide of 'joint families' breaking up before giving up their ghosts to total commercialisation. Bands were formed with a Synthesiser, a drum machine and a singer. period!

Then came the Star TV and put an end to all music! Star TV not only spawned low calibre artistes like Ashish Soni but also boosted singers with below one octave singing range like Daler Mahendi. Parties and Discos reverberated with the sound of Bhangara-Agri-Pop. Comparatively, the really talented girls did better. Kavita Krishnamurthy, Alisha, etc. did sing some interesting songs. And some other good looking bad singing sensations had the voice and life span of mosquitoes sans the sting. Asha Bhonsle persisted with her classy renderings.

Film music progressed on a line almost parallel to Indipop. Classical Music remains a slow but steady moving bullock cart.

As for lyrics, there was no progress beyond 'I love you you love me' or '..you donot' shows the stagnant social scene sans individual freedom of choice.

To sum up..we have produced a horde of singers and instrumentalists, but no musicians.

Neither is one visible on the distant horizon..classical musicians have taken a try at the pop music scene. are they our last resort?