Killer Hoardings Sunday, Jun 10 2007 

hoarding accident_jublee hills_11 April 2007 Huge hoardings in Hyderabad city have become a nightmare for all of us.

Recent reports of deaths caused by falling hoardings from high buildings and huge poles have forced people look upon them as death traps.

The other day a billboard from a six storey shopping mall fell killing a youth on the spot and injuring others.

Earlier, on11 April this year, a huge billboard raised on an enormous uni-pole gave way and collapsed on a restaurant and ice-cream parlor. A worker was killed instantly and many others were seriously injured. It completely damaged a couple of cars that were parked on the road and uprooted electric poles and strewed the road with metal pieces, rubbles and cables.

I happened to come that way within minutes after the accident. The site looked like a battle zone that was just bombed.

The huge billboards that are ubiquitous in Hyderabad city bear witness to the transformation of this city into a big metro that is one of the biggest business centers in India. Most of these huge hoardings have come up in the past two years or so.

Municipal corporation authorities often fail to enforce the rules and norms and reign in builders and advertising companies that flout them.

Do things like this happen anywhere else?

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Techno Tots Sunday, Jun 10 2007 

My two-year old son demands that he be left at the computer and his mom and I take our hands off him so that he can ‘work’ with it uninterrupted.

He goes hog wild with the mouse, running the cursor all over the screen and clicking on the task bar icons and the shortcuts.

Somehow I keep the keyboard pushed under the table top, otherwise he’ll tap on it with both his hands and sometimes with his legs, too.

When the going gets tough, I turn off the machine and let him do what he wants.

Anyway, my work is interrupted when he gets so enthusiastic about working with the computer.

My boy has been attracted to the computer since he was about eighteen months.

As I noticed his joy in playing with the computer I wondered whether it was right to expose a little child as young as 18-24 months to the computer. Is there a recommended age level for introducing the computer to a child’s world?

I had no success in finding any convincing comments on this matter until I came across a blog discussing this topic the other day.

I was glad to learn that Amit Agarwal of Digital Inspiration had a two-year old son who was computer savvy. The famous Indian blogger had already faced my situation and devised ways to deal with it, in addition to finding relevant articles from B.B.C. (articles: 1 and 2).

His method of launching a slideshow or drawing software to keep the child’s interest engrossed in it doesn’t work with my son. What he wants is the whole system for himself and tapping on the keyboard and clicking the mouse.

The two B.B.C. articles are really good. They contain the findings of a study and views and opinions of some experienced people. Here is a summary:

· The very early use of computers is heavily promoted by educationalists…

· Computers make an ideal context for learning through play.

· The multi sensory experiences that they offer are particularly appropriate for the very young and promote the use of memory.

· Play on the computer should be viewed as one of a range of contexts for play, rather than given a separate status.

· Ten minutes, three or four times a week is a good guide.

· It is not desirable for young children to sit in front of a screen for prolonged periods of time.

· Young children should be encouraged to investigate the real world, and links made between this and the virtual world of the computer.

· Painting games…allows children to be entirely creative and are additionally excellent tools for developing fine motor skills.

· Computers will play a significant part in children’s learning experiences throughout their school days and beyond.

· Parents have a powerful role in determining their child’s perception of the ways that this tool can enhance knowledge and expand their world.

As you can see there’s no conclusive answer to the question. It all depends upon the informed judgment of the parents!

Keeping this in mind, I’ll let my two-year old son tap and click and make him happy.