The circles of social networking

The virtual giant has done it yet again, with the Google+ Project. The latest rage, it is fun, easy to use and gives you a next-generation experience

Shweta Taneja

 

It is a little more than two weeks old, in beta stage, and already has two million users across the world. It has already crashed twice because too many people were logged in at the same time. Its regular invites are being sold on EBay.com for 99 cents (Rs. 44). A week after it was launched, Google’s marketvalue shot up by $20 billion. If you haven’t heard or read about it, you might as well have been living under a rock. Welcome to the latest rage in social networking, the Google+ Project.

Till now, social networking attempts by Google at best got responses such as “ahem” or an indifferent “so what?”. Google Wave became nothing but a techie haunt, Google Buzz stopped buzzing within a few days of its launch, and Orkut failed to attract anyone but sleazy lurkers. All of them fell off the online radar, and weren’t missed much.

But Google+ has an altogether different approach to social networking. It is fun and it offers a little bit more than Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Orkut and all other social networks put together. According to Google, it aims to be a social layer on top of the search engine and all its product offerings, so that your Web experience becomes one seamless, integrated Web-social experience.

Circles and Hangouts

The social site revolves around Circles—which are specified groups of friends, family, acquaintances and the people you want to follow. You can create, edit and delete Circles with a simple drag-and-drop function. A tweet (@gstrompolos) describes the experience of putting the people you know in Circles as playing a never-ending game of solitaire with your contacts. Visually, that is what the drag-and- drop feels like.

Continue reading “The circles of social networking”

The great big online sale

Forget those favours from friends abroad for the just launched iPad 2. Now a simple click can get you the latest and best gadgets at your doorstep

Shweta Taneja

A few months ago New Delhi-based Rina Bhardwaj, 31, was running around the Capital’s infant shops looking for a baby monitor. “I wanted it before my baby was born and I could not find it anywhere!” she says. After searching for a week, she took a friend’s advice and checked websites which sell gadgets. She found exactly what she was looking for on EBay.in. “It took me an hour of browsing, 5 minutes of paying and it was delivered to my home within a few days,” she says.

Be it the latest gadgets or the hard-to-find stuff, Indian websites are offering it all online—and chances are you will get most items at a discount. Here are some websites you should visit before you trek down to a gadget store.

EBay Global EasyBuy

Want to buy something that has just been launched in the US? EBay.in has made it easy with its Global EasyBuy service (www.ebay.in/globaleasybuy). You can buy the latest laptops, personal digital assistant or PDA phones, music systems and other cool things as they launch in the US. The prices displayed include shipping and customs costs, so when you order you know exactly how much you will have to pay. The website offers an equated monthly instalments, or EMI, facility for three-six months on select items, in case the cool thing you want comes with a hefty price tag. So you pay in rupees, while the latest e-book reader is delivered to your home. The prompt customer service and no-fuss website are an added bonus.

Log on if: You need the newest and the best internationally, and are ready to pay any price for it.

Olx.in

In store: Looking for deals on a mobile phone or the latest gadgets launched in the US? Online retail sites may be just the thing for you

In store: Looking for deals on a mobile phone or the latest gadgets launched in the US? Online retail sites may be just the thing for you

A newly launched website, Olx.in is a subsidiary of the international site Olx.com, famous for its classified advertisements. The website is a marketplace where you can sell or buy just about anything and everything under the sun.

Continue reading “The great big online sale”

While online, thou shalt not…

Be it Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, follow these 10 commandments of social networking etiquette

 

Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have their share of boorish people who jump into other people’s conversation, generally create a ruckus or bombard your Wall with their gaming updates—and don’t know when to stop. Here’s a list of things to avoid.

Playing games on other people’s Walls

Yes, we know that you love to play Farmville, take mid-afternoon quizzes about “Which Mahabharata character are you?” and “What kind of Ramdev follower are you?”, and dozens of other apps that come your way on Facebook. That doesn’t mean your friends should suffer from a perennial feed of your app activity. It’s not only irksome to see who you just added as a “friend” on Facebook, but also increases the silly updates on people’s Walls. Before they turn off the extra noise you are creating by un-friending you, turn off the bot updates that these apps generate.

Go to your Privacy Settings > Apps and Websites. Click on “Edit your settings”. On the Web page that follows, click on the “Edit Settings” button along with the “Apps you use” header. This will list all the apps you use and what your profile is being used for. Uncheck the feature “Post on your Wall” for every app. Believe us, your friends will thank you for it.

Saying no to your mother

No sneak peeks: Online etiquette demands that you keep your eyes off other people’s screens. Illustration by Raajan/Mint

You might dread the day your mother, or the gossipy aunt who wants you to get married to her cousin’s son, sends a friend request on Facebook or Orkut but you cannot really stop them from coming into your online social spaces. Not unless you change your cellphone number and house and shift to another planet. There are some people you just cannot avoid, but don’t despair—Facebook lets you divide your friends into different lists through which you can control who sees what on your Wall, your status updates, your photographs and even tags. Keep a list of people you couldn’t say “no” to and limit the way they see your profile. You can control the status updates they read, the photos they see and the discussions they can keep a tab on. Make Lists by clicking on Friends on the left-hand side of your Facebook profile. Now go to Edit Friends > Create a List. Once you have completed segregating your friends, simply go to Privacy Settings. Click on Customize Settings in the section “Sharing on Facebook”. You can click on each of the elements on your Facebook profile, such as your information, posts, photographs and details, and for each set which lists of people can view them.

Using all caps

Except when it’s a bank that has just used your credit card for an unauthorized payment, or when you want to make a point strongly, never ever use all caps for any communication online. In the online world, talking in all caps is not talking, but YELLING…

…Read the complete story on the Mint website here.

Take charge of Facebook

Want to take control of your data and the way you use your Facebook account? Then try these tricks. By Shweta Taneja

 

When Tejas Pande, a 23-year-old Bangalore-based information technology professional, heard about a workshop called Facebook Resistances at the Centre for Internet and Society (www.cis-india.org) in the city, he signed up without thinking twice. “I spend almost 10 hours every day logged in to my Facebook account. Its fixed rituals were getting to me. So I wanted to find out how I can take more control of my account and make it more personal.”

The workshop, which was conducted by Marc Stumpel, a new media researcher and privacy advocate from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, had the same concerns. Stumpel’s workshop, which has travelled across the world from Barcelona and Berlin to Bangalore, is a research initiative that looks at changing the rules and functionality of Facebook. “We want to change your experience of the site and make it more personal,” he says, adding, “We also want you to safeguard your privacy in the Facebook world.” All this, he says, is possible through add-ons to your Internet browser. “People just need to know what these cracks are.”

Privacy rules: There are simple ways to safeguard your privacy on Facebook.

Privacy rules: There are simple ways to safeguard your privacy on Facebook.

With more than 600 million active users, Facebook has become prone to attacks from hackers. Problems such as identity theft and malicious bot messages or status update worms are becoming common. Other than that, privacy concerns which have wracked Facebook since its inception continue to be controversial despite the “controls” it now offers.

The main reason for this is that the social networking mammoth keeps on pushing new features or changes constantly and rapidly, even before we can understand the ones that already exist. “Most often we don’t get a chance to opt in to new features, and can only opt out if they get our attention,”explains Stumpel. This leads to a loss of control over personal data and what Facebook can do with it.

To prevent this, it’s necessary to keep going back to those account settings and make full use of whatever control Facebook offers at any point. Here are some of the latest ways you can protect your online identity.

Log out of multiple sessions

How many times have you logged into Facebook from an Internet café or a friend’s mobile phone and forgotten to log out? Every time you do that, even though you close the browsing window or application at the end, Facebook keeps your session open, making you vulnerable to mischief. Now you can log into your account and see a list of active sessions with their details, which include the login time, device name, the approximate location of the login based on IP address, and browser and operating system. If some of them are unauthorized or you are unaware of these activities, shut them immediately and reset your password.

Take control now: In your Facebook account, go to Account > Account Settings > Account Security > Account Activity > Also Active. Facebook lists all your active, open browsers in the Also Active list. Click on End Activity on the unwanted ones. You can also take control of which gadgets you log on from with the Login Approvals feature that comes under Account Security. This feature lets you put a code alert, which can then be SMSed to your mobile phone as soon as you log in from an unrecognized computer. This will alert you in case there’s been a login from a source you don’t know about.

Avoid the unwanted photo tag

Did a friend just put your drunk as hell photograph, wearing a “I hate my boss” T-shirt and making an obscene gesture, online? And did your boss and wife see it and blast you for irresponsibility? Other than the embarrassment, you may get into trouble at home or at work because of friends tagging inane photographs they clicked somewhere you don’t remember.If it’s not photographs, it’s minor irritants such as social or festive messages that you unexpectedly get tagged in. Avoid such irritants with a simple click.

Take control now: Go to Account > Privacy Settings > Sharing on Facebook. Click on ‘Customize settings’. In the page that pops up, choose in each option who can see and comment on things you share, things on your Wall and things you’re tagged in.

Secure your account

Hacking is increasingly a problem on Facebook. The reason is that on most of the networks, Facebook (unlike email clients) works on an unsecured connection (http) and not a secure one (https). Now the social networking site gives you an option to choose a secure site for logging and browsing. You can also choose one-time passwords when logging into Facebook from a public connection.

Take control now: Go to Account > Account Settings> Account Security > Secure Browsing. Tick on Browse Facebook on a Secure Connection (https) whenever possible. In case you are using a public computer, take the option of Facebook One-time Passwords. Text “OTP” to 32665 on your mobile phone and you will get a new one-time password which expires within 20 minutes.

Stop Facebook from haunting you online

Baffled when your Facebook profile image pops up every time you are reading a news site or a travel website online asking you to “Like” a news or review since another friend from Facebook does? Or surprised when you are browsing a travel website and your friends’ photographs pop up suddenly, saying they have been there and “Recommend” a hotel or site? Facebook has partnered with some websites to, as it delicately puts it, “provide you with great, personalized experiences the moment you arrive, such as immediately playing the music you like or displaying friends’ reviews”. Basically if you are logged in to Facebook, these sites can take information from your account and display it and also tell you which of your friends have visited that particular city earlier. If you wish to stop Facebook from haunting you everywhere you go online on your browser, act now.

Take control now: To block a third party, go to Account > Privacy Settings > Apps and Websites> Instant Personalization. Deselect Enable Instant Personalization to stop getting these subtle suggestions from Facebook.

Cut off the ads

A Facebook friend, Mr-I-Like-Everything, “Likes” yet another page and it pops up as a suggestion on the right side of your profile. If you have been on Facebook long enough, chances are one of the “Sponsored” pages has been shoved under your nose at least once. These little ad blurbs which keep popping up on the right-hand side corner, or underneath your apps on the left side of your page, are a mix of advertisements as well as Facebook’s way of further profiling you. Facebook calls them “Suggestions” that add to your social personality, but they are just ads.

Read the complete article here.

Iron those wrinkles away

Botox and fillers are fast becoming a way of life in the high-flying corporate world from Mohali to Mumbai. By Shweta Taneja

Rajesh M., a marketing manager based in Mumbai, constantly got into arguments with his colleagues and juniors because they found him too critical. Then one day, he was told by a friendly colleague that it was his frown which made him look “angry” all the time. “I had these three deep frown lines in between my eyebrows,” explains the 35-year-old, “which looked like I was always frowning.” His colleagues felt he was always disapproving of something being discussed, which led to negative vibes in the team.

“I had had enough of this. I wanted to get rid of these lines. Someone suggested Botox to me. I looked up on that online and liked the idea,” says Rajesh. Over a weekend at the start of this year, he got Botox injections to freeze the area between his eyebrows. “The process took barely 10 minutes at a clinic and after the weekend I was all ready to join back work without those lines,” he says.

“Botox injections for treating frown lines have become quite common for men,” says K.M. Kapoor, senior consultant and head, department of cosmetic surgery, at Fortis Hospital, Mohali, who also runs a private clinic in Chandigarh. “Freezing that frown gives you a relaxed and friendly look, giving you a pleasant look.” According to him, Rajesh is among an increasing number of men who are not thinking twice before opting for non-invasive procedures to “correct” a facial expression or hide ageing.

Dr Kapoor gets around 600-700 patients, both men and women, every year who want Botox injections. Thirty per cent of these are men in the 35-45 age bracket. Three years ago, the percentage of men coming to his clinic for Botox was only 10%. “They are all well-educated, senior executives in high-paying jobs who want to retain their young looks, especially among their juniors who are in their 20s,” explains Dr Kapoor.

Botox, fillers and other non-invasive cosmetic procedures such as peels and laser hair removal are popularly known as lunch-time lifts. “All lunch-time surgeries take less than an hour, are non-invasive or superficial, can be done with local anaesthesia and show results immediately,” explains Mumbai-based cosmetic surgeon Manoj Kumar J. Manwani, who handles approximately 5,000-6,000 cosmetic cases every year. Lunch-time procedures are very popular with professionals as there is little or no recovery period, explains Satish Bhatia, 43, a dermatologist and skin surgeon based in Mumbai. “Most of my patients want non-invasive or lunch-time procedures due to weekday office timings,” he explains. They can recover over the weekend and be back on Monday looking “refreshed and relaxed”.

According to Dr Bhatia, corrections for which demand is growing in the corporate world are mole removal, skin augmentation, double- chin correction, chemical face peeling, laser treatment for unwanted hair, and facelifts.

Quick makeover

“The idea behind preferring non-invasive procedures to a full-blown surgery is that these men do not want to change their faces remarkably, but just give themselves a younger face which makes one feel more confident,” explains Dr Manwani, whose male patient list is full of professionals—engineers, doctors, managers, etc. All of them want quick, non-invasive procedures because they want little alteration to their faces and want to get it done quickly. “They also know exactly what they want and which area needs to be ‘treated’,” he says. “Most of my male patients come to me alone and after an initial consultation where they tell me the problem area, we decide on the kind of procedure they want to take up.”

Looking good: Frown lines, laugh lines, moles, scars—you can get rid of them in a jiffy.

Looking good: Frown lines, laugh lines, moles, scars—you can get rid of them in a jiffy.

Priti Shukla, a cosmetic surgeon who has been running Priti Shukla’s Cosmetic Surgery in Hyderabad since 2001, believes that the trend of men “doing it” is here to stay and will increase in the coming years. “Already 50% of all patients I get are men,” she says, “and most of my older clientele who are in their 40s opt for Botox and fillers.” According to her, the trend is most common among software professionals in Hyderabad who want to get cosmetic surgeries done to boost their confidence and come in with their credit cards handy. Money is not a problem for them.

The risks

Though treatments such as Botox and other non-invasive procedures are generally risk-free, some temporary side effects have been reported. “There can be some reactions in case you are allergic to the toxin in Botox or fillers,” says Dr Kapoor. In the case of Botox, you can experience droopy eyelids, nausea, muscle weakness, facial pain, indigestion, or tooth problems. In the case of fillers, you can experience prolonged redness, swelling, itching or skin hardness and bumps.

He cautions against trying out these injections in a beauty parlour or a spa since they are unregulated and the results can be disastrous. A trained cosmetic surgeon knows facial anatomy, so the chances of his injecting the wrong muscle are very small, explains Dr Kapoor. So the chances of you looking like a frozen bitter gourd on Monday morning are slim.

Do your research beforehand. Dr Kapoor suggests: “Read up on the procedure, what it does to your body, consult with a known doctor who will know the right questions to ask and ask if there would be any side effects, especially if you have a history of heart disease or popping pills like vitamins, medicines or even herbal products. Your doctor needs to know it all.”

Another risk is infection, or wrongly administered anaesthesia. “You should avoid any kind of cosmetic makeover during summer as there is more colonization of bacteria and chances of infection are higher,” cautions Dr Manwani. According to him, winters are the best time to get these procedures done. “Also, before you decide on a clinic, check the place thoroughly for its sanitization to avoid catching an infection floating around.”

“The biggest risk in these procedures is that of unrealistic expectations,” says Dr Shukla, who gets patients who want drastic changes to their face. “A face filled with Botox is never a good idea, it can make you look too plastic. Your doctor knows best and if she says that a specific wrinkle cannot be filled, take her advice,” she says.

Take the example of 24-year-old Kanishka S., who is already worried that his face is beginning to resemble a dried-up walnut.

To read the complete article, click here.

Be a gym gentleman

Are you a regular on the fitness floor? If you want to earn a reputation for courtesy rather than boorishness, adhere to our gym etiquette guide. By Shweta Taneja

You might have been rocking the gym for years now and know all there is to know about weights and postures, but are you “that” guy? You know the kind—the one who talks loudly on the phone, leaves behind pools of sweat on the bench when he’s done, ogles at the ladies, and is forever showing off his triceps. Everyone dreads his presence. If you are nodding your head, chances are you have met such a guy. “Most of the gyms have basic rules like allowing others to use the equipment after a period of time or wiping the seat of the equipment after use,” says Delhi-based Reebok fitness expert Nisha Varma, “but not many people follow those rules.” Here are some definite no-nos if you want to be known as a true gentleman.

Wipe that seat

Rules of conduct: Focus on the workout, not on networking.

“Who wants to exercise in a pool of somebody else’s sweat?” asks actor Rajvansh Rai, who gets upset every time he has to touch a handle or sit on a machine covered with someone else’s perspiration. “You need to be considerate towards other people who are using the same premises and equipment,” says fitness expert Vesna Jacob, of Vesna’s Wellness Clinic, New Delhi. “Imagine if the same happens to you!”

Manners matter: Always carry a towel with you and dry yourself and the bench as you move from one machine to another. “As a rule, after you are finished with a machine, wipe off everywhere you touched—the handles, the seat, the back,” says Jacob.

Switch off your phone

“I hate people who talk on the exercise floor,” says Sandeep Makkar, an IT professional, who works out four-five times a week. “They disturb everyone around them.” Most people who come to the gym are there to beat stress and not to hear you fire your employee or dish out a dozen instructions. So when you are on the treadmill, keep the telephone at bay.

Manners matter: Leave your cellphone in the gym locker, or better still, at home. Treat the time at the gym as your personal time, where you relax, bust stress and whip your body into shape. Your life won’t change if you stay away from your phone for an hour.

Don’t hog that machine

You might be really good at reserving your seat in the first-come-first-served concerts, but when it comes to the gym, keep your running-to-catch-the-window-seat instincts to yourself. “Hanging your jacket, towel, purse, sweat rag or keeping a bottle on a machine does not make you its owner,” says Sanjana Eipe, a marketing professional who works out at a gym five-six times a week. “The gym is public space and you do not own the equipment there, so be courteous and stick to one machine at a time.”

Manners matter: If you don’t plan to use the machine in the next 2 minutes, don’t monopolize it, especially during peak hours. Even if you are doing multiple sets on a machine, as common courtesy let others work out on the machine between your rest periods. If your health club has time limits for a cardio machine, respect the rules and let others use it.

Keep it quiet

“People treat gyms more as networking spaces nowadays than a place to build up your body,” says actor Aditya Singh Rajput, who works out four times a week. “I like to focus on my workouts, which becomes impossible if the person next to me taps me on my shoulder while I am doing my last set of push-ups to ask me where I got my Adidas pair from.”

Manners matter: When in the gym, follow a vow of silence. This means no grunting, no crackling at funny things, and definitely no chatting to the person who might be sitting on a machine and crunching. Keep your voice and music low. And network in a café instead.

Stop ogling

“Ogling is bad enough anywhere, but if a man stares at me while I am sweating it out, I feel completely creeped out,” says Aruni Singh, a management consultant who works out at a gym at least four times a week. Jacob, on the other hand, has learnt to take ogling with a pinch of humour. “Sometimes guys just try to be funny while you are in the gym, laughing that the gym is not a place for strong men any more,” she says. “Instead of getting angry at that, I simply invite them for an abs and flexibility competition. You should see their sweaty faces when I beat them to it.” Staring at a woman (or a man for that matter) while she’s working out her abs or shoulders is invasive and rude.

Manners matter: The girls are working as hard as you to tone up their bodies, so give them a break. In case you like a girl at your gym, a smile’s enough sign of your interest. That’s much more gentlemanly than gaping at her while she’s doing her crunches.

Don’t display your wares

You might think that your abs are custom-made to be displayed around the floor but for others, seeing your sweaty chest is not a very relaxing experience. “I hate it when men at my gym enter a sauna bath but do not take a towel with them,” says Delhi-based businessman Amit Arora, who goes to the gym around three times a week. The gym is a public space, not your personal bathroom. Strutting around in the buff in any part of the gym, including the bathrooms, is in bad taste.

Manners matter: There’s an added benefit to covering up. Since cold muscles tear much faster, a layer of cloth on your body will absorb sweat and keep your muscles warm, protecting them from tear. If you plan to do a lot of floor-based exercises and push-ups, make sure your neckline is not too revealing and your clothes are not too loose or too tight.

Don’t give unsolicited advice

You might have spent the last 20 years in a gym and have the crispest of abs around or a mountain instead of a tricep, but that doesn’t mean that someone next to you needs to hear how much you know about your weights or how the person next to you should use the treadmill or for how long.

Manners matter: Keep your gym knowledge to yourself. In case you see someone doing an exercise incorrectly, be very delicate when you approach them. Don’t preach or be derisive; be polite and ask if they need help.

Read the complete story here

Waking up to your online avatar

Do you blog, check your email or tweet as soon as you wake up? A tongue-in-cheek look at what your morning Net rooster says about you. By Shweta Taneja

 

Traditional Private Ryan

Your first window: Your personal email

Your medium of connection to the world is your personal inbox. Every morning, at home or after you reach office, the first thing you open in that browser is your personal email client. You generally don’t have any alternative windows open in your browser. All your social networking messages first come into your inbox. You check them as emails, commenting on other people’s Facebook status messages using the reply to comment link.

What it says: You are a person of habit. You took up email and have stuck to it for the last 10 years or more. It works for you and that’s the way you want to keep it.

Tweet tattler

Your first window: Twitter, Facebook or your favourite social network

Web-locked: What is your Net persona?

As soon as am strikes, your fingers start flying on the Qwerty keyboard or its touch-screen avatar, typing thoughts, emotions and experiences in concise word lengths. It’s not one-way communication—every few minutes you also need to check for updates, tweets, links, videos or ideas that your friends, family, cousins or complete strangers are posting online. On a dinner date, you type 140 characters on the sly while ordering the lamb dish. While seeing a movie, you are constantly thinking of what you will say about it on Facebook. You are on top of the latest social network trends, be it the review of Abhishek Bachchan’s latest flop or a blood donation camp in Alaska.

What it says: You are experimental and addicted to sharing your experiences. Social networks have given you the space to constantly reveal your thoughts and experiences through minimal interface. You are completely comfortable in your online skin, much more so than meeting face to face. You are also a constant retweeter.

Hard-working Joe

Your first window: Your office email client

For you the Internet is just another medium to stay connected to your work. You have the office email client set into your smartphone and check your email as soon as you wake up. You keep checking your office mails through the day, even when you’re out for a family dinner. You need to reply to every official mail you get, be it on weekends or late at night. In fact, the best way for your spouse to communicate with you is through an official email.

What it says: You are bordering on workaholism. Even when you’re on vacation, sitting on a beach, beer mug in hand, you itch to check your office mail (and usually do) to see if there’s an emergency where you are needed.

Anti-establishment ace

Your first window: Your own blog or other people’s blog

You get to hear things that might never come into mainstream media. You most probably have your own blog. You live in the non-conformist space on the Net. Every morning, you open a list of blogs of people around the world you have come to respect and hear what they have to say. You don’t tend to go to big news sites. Your news comes from individual blogs or tweets.

What it says: You have a voice, a strong one, and an equally strong following. You will not be seen hobnobbing with the big bad wolves. You like to stay away, a lion in his own space. You also tend to be Leftist and anti-corporate.

Multitask maverick

Your first window: Facebook, Twitter, email, weather, you open them all together.

You need to do it all. You open all the windows in your browser—your email client, social networking sites, blogs, news sites—together and then toggle between windows, commenting, answering and reading.

What it says: You are a multitasker and technology, especially the online medium, is a boon for you. You like to do everything together, fast and furious.

Read the complete story here.

Reinvent your virtual life

The World Wide Web is a fast-changing, fast-moving space. Forget plain old email, Twitter and Facebook; now your online life is also shaped by the kind of apps you use (or don’t use). If you’re not in touch with what’s the latest in the world of app stores and on the Net, you will soon be left behind. We bring updates on some of the current trends in the online world.

Tag yourself geographically

Why you should: Status messages about what’s on your mind and what’s new are so last year. The burning question for social networking this year is where all you have been and where you are right now. Check-in or location-based apps are the latest way to interact with your connections—friends, family, colleagues—by telling them about your favourite places and where you are now in the city or outside it. If you think it’s a brag through a bot, especially if you are the jet-setting type, you’re probably right. It’s a fun one though.

How it works: The technology at the heart of these apps is called geolocation, which uses your GPS-enabled smartphone to locate your physical being. From there on, depending on the app you use and your preferences, these apps find out the nearby restaurants or hang-outs your online friends have been to and recommended, or the interesting people you might want to meet. They remotely check you in at clubs, bars and restaurants in live time and automatically share every place you have been to on your social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. You can do virtual check-ins at bars, restaurants, cafés, parks, offices, and pretty much any place else. There are around 6,000 apps to choose from in the market today, with the popular ones being Foursquare, Gowalla, BrightKite and Facebook Places. Of course, you do need to remember to turn off the app in case you’re not where your boss or spouse think you are.

What you pay: Zilch. Most of these applications are free. In fact, frequent a place enough and you might even get some freebies from them as a thanks. Foursquare, for example, has a massive list of places all over the world that offer special discounts and free drinks to regulars or to anyone who has registered a certain number of check-ins at their site.

To read the complete story please click here.

Unshackle the idiot box

The latest gadget in your home to open up to apps is the oldest one. Your television set is all set to get more interactive and smarter with Internet connectivity and browsable apps. Shweta Taneja

Google TV, for instance, allows you to browse the Internet, search videos and, yes, download apps via the comfort of your remote control. A lot of brands, in fact, offer Internet integration with TV. Sony has introduced its Internet Bravia’s Internet Video application in its high-end NX and EX series, Samsung offers Internet@TV in the latest LED 7000 and 8000 series, while Panasonic offers Internet integration in its TV with Viera Cast technology. Since the technology is relatively new, be prepared for hiccups.

Read the complete story here.

Express Workouts

Bid your flabby body goodbye. Our celebrity fitness experts create 10- to 15-minute workouts with one aim in mind: a fab body for you in 2011. By Shweta Taneja

“All you need is 15-20 minutes of any hot and sweaty exercise to keep yourself fit,” says Delhi-based Reebok fitness trainer Nisha Varma. If it is tough for you to work out during the week, “make up on weekends with a 45-minute session of walking, jogging, swimming, cycling or dancing”.

Our fitness experts understand that many of you can’t take an hour out of your busy schedules every day, so they have created made-to-order workouts which will take less than 20 minutes a day to get you into a fab shape. “The idea is to be regular at the regime you pick up and do it every day,” says Mumbai-based yoga expert Tonia Clark, who believes a lot can be achieved if you make sure you exercise for at least 15 minutes early in the morning daily. “You can easily get a total body workout, body stretch as well as peace of mind,” she says. Here’s what you can do.

YOUR 2011 RESOLUTION: Tone arms, shoulders and strengthen neck muscles

OUR EXPERT: Nisha Varma, a Reebok master trainer and fitness expert based in Delhi who has authored ‘Yoga for Back Problems’ and ‘Yoga at the Work Place’, says simple strength training two days a week can tone up arms and shoulders.

WHAT SHE SAYS

You won’t see a significant difference in your body but yes, the chicken wings will disappear. You will need a pair of dumb-bells of a weight that is a challenge for you (should be at least 1kg).

HER WORKOUT

•Bicep curls: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold one dumb-bell in either hand. Lift the dumb-bell towards your shoulders as you exhale. Lower it slowly to starting position as you exhale. Make sure you maintain the correct posture through the full range of movement. Alternate hands and do one set of 20 reps.

•Triceps extension: Stand with legs shoulder-width apart, belly in and shoulders pulled back and down. Hold the rod of one dumb-bell with both hands and lift it behind your shoulders in the middle of your upper back. Your elbows point towards the ceiling, arms are close to ears and the dumb-bell is resting between your shoulder blades. Exhale, lifting the dumb-bell towards the ceiling. Lower the arms slowly as you inhale. Do one set of 20 reps.

•Shoulder front raise: Hold a dumb-bell in each hand. Stand with legs shoulder-width apart. Lift both arms forward till shoulder level as you exhale and lower the arms as you inhale. Do not drop the arms suddenly. Do one set of 20 reps.

•Shoulder lateral raise: Hold a dumb-bell in each hand. Lift both arms to the side of your body till shoulder level. Inhale as you lift and exhale as you lower the weights.

•Finish the session with shoulder rotations forward and back eight times each.

A WORD OF CAUTION

Warm-up is a must before any exercise programme. You also need appropriate shoes and apparel. Before you begin, get a basic medical check-up.

YOUR 2011 RESOLUTION: I want to strengthen my heart

OUR EXPERT: Vesna Jacob, a Pilates expert based in Delhi who runs Hypoxis, a wellness clinic.

WHAT SHE SAYS

There are many ways to improve your cardiac health. Walking, jogging, running or hopping are some of them. But if you haven’t done cardio for a while, you will need to start small. Skipping rope is the most fun as well as effective way to tone up the entire body. Build up your stamina by starting slow and sticking to the routine regularly. You can increase the number of sets (maximum, four) per session as you build your stamina.

HER WORKOUT

• Start with a couple of minutes of good warm-up and stretching. This will make sure that you don’t strain or pull your muscles.

•Stage 1: Keep an even tempo of skipping throughout the workout, and finish off at a faster pace. Do this for cycles of 5 minutes.

•Stage 2: A couple of weeks into this regimen, change this to interval training: Follow a 30-second fast and 60-second slower skipping rhythm in cycles of 5 minutes.

•Stage 3: The next stage is to do 30 seconds fast, 30 seconds slow, and then 60 seconds fast, 30 seconds slow, and so on for cycles of 5 minutes.

A WORD OF CAUTION

If you have to gasp for air or feel dizzy, or experience any chest pain, you need to stop immediately and have yourself checked by a doctor.

YOUR 2011 RESOLUTION: Lose the beer belly

OUR EXPERT: Manish Tiwari, who teaches yoga to celebs such as Katrina Kaif and Sridevi, at his gym Cosmic Fusion, Bandra, Mumbai.

WHAT HE SAYS

A beer belly is a direct result of the excessive sugar in your diet. Ideally cut down on the consumption of beer. In case you still feel like having beer, remember to have darker beer as that’s richer in nutrients and antioxidants and has lesser sugar content.

HIS WORKOUT

•Shalabhasana: Lie flat on your stomach with your legs together, hands by the side of the body. Now raise your arms, chest, head and legs simultaneously, and hold for about 2-5 seconds. Then lower. This engages your abs fully.

•Setubandhasana: Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet apart. Place your arms flat on your side, and lift your hips and back off the floor while leaving your head, shoulders and feet on the floor. Hold for about 5-10 seconds and do 10-15 reps. This burns your belly fat.

•Yoga crunches: Finally finish off with some yoga crunches. Lie down on your back, put your hands behind your head to support your back and using your abdominal muscles, push your legs up towards the ceiling, lifting your buttocks about 2-3 inches off the ground. Do 15-20 reps about three times a week.

A WORD OF CAUTION

Be careful when doing these poses if you don’t have any earlier yoga experience. You could injure yourself. Go slow on each one and keep breathing normally.

YOUR 2011 RESOLUTION: A speedy total body workout

OUR EXPERT: Tonia Clark, a yoga expert from Canada who is based in Mumbai and has worked on a DVD with Lara Dutta called ‘Yoga Recovery and Rejuvenation’.

WHAT SHE SAYS

Start with a Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation, which is a full body warm-up of 12 asanas. Do five to start with and follow with the workout listed below. This will cleanse your body, give you a nice stretch and soothe your mind.

HER WORKOUT

•Vrikshasana: Shift the weight to the left leg. Lift your right foot above the left knee, pushing the sole of the right foot into the left thigh. Bring your hands into prayer position. Shoulders relaxed, jaw soft and gaze fixed on one point, inhale and raise arms up to the sky. Hold the pose for at least five full cycles of breath.

•Pawanmuktasana: Lie on your back, legs straight out. Bend your right knee into your chest and hug your thigh, holding it with your arms. Pull the knee towards the right shoulder, keeping the left leg active. Feel a pinch in the right hip crease. This will open up the hips, cleanse your digestive system and eliminate toxins.

•Shavasana: Lie on your back with your legs straight and apart, your feet relaxed. Place your arms alongside your body, a little away, palms facing up. Roll your shoulder blades in towards each other. Close your eyes and just be still, breathing deeply and relaxing.

A WORD OF CAUTION

First train with a yoga teacher.

For the complete story, click here.