100 emails/day

The amount of email I get has increased since I joined the Wikimedia Foundation a year ago. Along with email, more written communication is expected off me on Phabricator and Gerrit. Looking at the amount of misunderstandings and arguments that happen on these channels I have developed fear and dislike for them. It might be rooted in my own insecurities of being unable to communicate well and so it needs to change.

No more flagging emails and bugs for later. I have finally gotten rid of my backlog, going through my flagged emails I found 3 month old emails that could have used my response. Starting Monday I am going to dedicate 6 hours every week responding to written communication. Rhea pointed out that deferring emails by flagging them for later is the issue. From now on I reply to email when I read it and I don’t read it as often as I do right now.

A Forgotten Empire: Vijayanagar

by Robert Sewell

In preperation for my Hampi visit I decided to read a historical account of the Vijayanagar empire. My last history class was seven years ago, so this was a new first lesson.

I was excited after reading the introduction. The city seemed grand and rich in culture but I became uninterested as the book became a chronological documentation from one war to the next. I enjoyed the few breaks that were taken to talk about the architecture and the lives of the common people and wished there were more. The academic tone didn’t bother me and was I amazed when the author himself was doubtful about the certainty of some facts. He had strung together centuries of history by interpreting the chronicles of Fernão Nunes and Abd-al-Razzāq, and the scriptures that were being discovered during the time. He was clear in his distinction between facts and speculations. In contrast, Domingo Paes’ observations were direct, he wrote of what he was shown by the King, and what he was told by his fellows. He even logged details like the prices of common fruits and vegetables. It read like an out of date WikiVoyage entry.

Reading this book made me wonder about the accuracy of my school books. Or of any history books. I can never be sure if what is being written is fact, or worse, if its tainted by personal beliefs and propaganda. Amber consoled my skepticism and suggested I read What is History? by E.H. Carr. More books on my reading list, answers to all questions of life soon!

Chasing the Moon

moonset

I remember seeing the moon set into the sea once. It happened during one of the many long bus journeys — Mumbai to Bangalore to Mangalore to Goa. I wasn’t sleeping well and woke for a minute because of a speed breaker and saw it for a second before it was hidden by a hill.

Since then I have wondered if it actually happened. It reminded me of the drunken night in college spent laughing at the fact that no one knew where the moon rises from. If only we had paid attention in school.

A bit of research revealed its relation to the lunar phase. A full moon will rise and set like the sun and a no moon will do the exact opposite. It becomes obvious after thinking about it for a while (brain cell killing alcohol!). Thus, a moon set can only happen on the west coast, on a full moon night, when there are no clouds and the sun doesn’t rise before the moon sets.

My next chance to see this is on 5th January. Its a full moon and its going to set at 5:19AM a full 2 hours before the sun rises. The monsoons are long over so I can hope to have a clear sky. The picture on the left is from the last full moon, the sun flushed the moon before it could actually set. I’d like to believe that I still have some brain cells left and what I saw was real.

A persistent Table of Contents

A recent discussion on Wikitech-l lead to the idea of having a persistent Table of Contents on Wikipedia articles. Timo had shared the Underscore.js and Asciidoctor docs as examples but I liked Bootstrap’s the best because it collapses headings and shows you where you are. I sat down to experiment and came up with this —

toc expanded wikipedia

toc expanded wikipedia

You can try it by adding the following code to your common.js

The table will show up on the side once you have scrolled past the first heading. There are a few bugs and I am not collapsing headings as I am not yet sure if its necessary for Wikipedia articles. Feedback and ideas are welcome!