close

Featured

Youth Time

Cryptocurrency

Crypto2

2010, price of 1 bitcoin = $0.39

2019, price of 1 bitcoin = approx. $7800; Rs. 1,371,084.00

As you can see if you had invested Rs 70 to buy 1 bitcoin back in 2009, you would have been able to receive Rs 1.3 Million in 2019

What is Cryptocurrency?

One of the main examples for cryptocurrency is bitcoin. In simple terms, Bitcoin is a digital currency. Non-digital currency is fiat currency which is the normal rupee and dollar notes that we use daily.

Bitcoin was created by a person or  a group of people who collectively call themselves Satoshi Nakamoto.

What is Blockchain?

Let me explain what blockchain means in simple terms.

Modern communication has allowed people to communicate directly. Texts, voice mails, emails travel instantly from one to another. But when it comes to money, we need to rely on a 3rd party for security.

If we need to transfer $100 to someone in Canada, we would have to do it through a bank. Blockchain challenges this mechanism by removing the third party. Blockchain uses math and cryptography to provide an open decentralized database of any transaction involving value. This can be money, goods, property on even votes. These transactions’ authenticity is verified by the community. All these transactions will be recorded on a public and distributed ledger which can be accessed by anyone who has an internet connection. So how is a decentralized database kept? This is done by having decentralized nodes rather than having a centralized system like the bank. These distributed nodes share the ledger which means all cryptocurrency users have a ledger and updates to the ledger are independently constructed and recorded by each node. The nodes then vote on these updates to ensure that the majority agrees with the conclusion reached. This voting and agreement on one copy of the ledger is called consensus and is conducted automatically by a consensus algorithm. Once consensus has been reached, the distributed ledger updates itself and the latest, agreed-upon version of the ledger are saved on each node separately.

What is Blockchain Mining?

Mining is the process of adding transactions to the large distributed public ledger of existing transactions, known as the blockchain. Mining involves creating a hash of a block of transactions that cannot be easily forged, protecting the integrity of the entire blockchain without the need for a central system.

Miners validate new transactions and record them on the global ledger (blockchain). On average, a block (the structure containing transactions) is mined every 10 minutes. Miners compete to solve a difficult mathematical problem based on a cryptographic hash algorithm.

Mining is NOT about creating new cryptocurrencies. Mining is the mechanism that allows the blockchain to be in a decentralized security.

Miners receive a reward when they solve a complex mathematical problem. There are two types of rewards: new bitcoins or transaction fees.

Some of the other Cryptocurrencies available

  • Ripple (XRP)
  • Ethereum (ETH)
  • Litecoin (LTC)
  • Bitcoin cash (BCH)
  • Zcash (ZEC)

How to purchase cryptocurrency?

In Sri Lanka, you can use several methods to purchase cryptocurrency

  • Through a Website called Localbitcoins. This site allows us to buy and sell bitcoins with other local users. Mode of payment can be bank transfer or card payment.
  • Through a Website called Paxful. This too allows you to buy and sell bitcoins globally. The mode of payment can be Paypal, Moneygram, mobile recharge.

My personal favorite is this site called cex.io. This site allows you to buy and sell most cryptocurrencies and is not limited to bitcoin. To perform a transaction, create an account and register your credit card. Any credit card wouldn’t do the trick and you would need an HSBC credit card for this (based on research). Its simple to use and offers many valuable features like price charts and wallet management.

Rtr. Hasitha Jayasuriya

read more
Youth Time

What do you seek in your Soul mate?

cover

Are you in love? Married? In a serious relationship? Never planning on being on one? Happily single? Single and ready to mingle? Newly single? or newly dating? Well, whatever it might be, let’s admit, we’ve all at least thought about being with someone. The one, we’d like to call our “better half”.

Now most of us want that healthy, enjoyable long term relationship with our dream lover, and most of us have already stepped on to that ladder. It does seem wonderful at the beginning. But it’s only for a handful of us that remains it so till the end. But why?

Being in love is no easy job and we will certainly mess up somewhere along the way. But what matters is how we get past it. And this my friends is a lot easier if you’re with the right person. So it is vital that we choose the right person for the right reasons.

We all have our own checklists when it comes to our lover and it’s natural that we want different things. Some of us want the tall, but it’s not as compelling to others. Some of us want the bearded and others the beardless. Some the sporty, some the geeky. The I-want-to-have-kids type and the I-don’t type.

While people with any of these qualities could make amazing soul mates, there are some other characteristics that I would call core. And I’m sure, that list of mine can relate to yours!

Trust is the foundation of love. There are so many wonderful things we can get out a relationship, but the moment trust is broken, they’re all shattered. So there’s no point committing to a relationship while having doubts or fears about your partner. It’s vital to know that they’re faithful, reliable and will always be there for you, without having to be monitored or controlled. Being brutally honest with each other and communicating feelings both good and bad is the key to build mutual trust in a relationship.

Love and sex might be one purpose of a relationship, but definitely not the only one. A strong friendship with your partner is something that really holds your relationship together and fulfills it. It’s beautiful to be with someone whom you can easily connect with and freely talk to. To talk about your day and exchange life lessons, to be able to completely express yourself without feeling judged and to enjoy doing pretty much anything together. Also, make sure that you’ve seen your partner go bananas!

We all have a purpose of life and we all want to grow. And we’d obviously want to be with someone who does the same. Your partner needs to have goals. There should be something they believe in, something they want to be and working hard towards fulfilling it. It has to be someone who sees a future in them. Otherwise, they wouldn’t see a future in anything else either, even your relationship. So choose someone who dreams big!

We all want our share of attention from our loved ones and a much bigger share from our life partner! Your partner needs to be interested and attentive about what happens in your life, supportive of what you do and excited about your achievements. It has to be someone who has the desire to hear about your day not just out of obligation, but out of interest.  Simply someone who never gets bored of you.

Sharing the same interest with your partner is great. Liking the same food, enjoying the same kinds of movies, sharing the same hobbies and traveling the world together all adds more color to your relationship, but even if you don’t, it’s no biggie. You will end up trying out each other’s interests along the way and find yourselves enjoying them together with time. But, if you don’t share the same values and visions, things might not be so easy. It’s important that you have a similar worldview, the same opinions on what’s right and wrong, want the same things for your kids and have similar perceptions.

Life is hectic as it and we could all do with a dose of laughter. It’s nice to be with someone who can casually make a joke while talking and make you laugh. Or who can cheer you up with their humor when you’re in a bad mood. Having a sense of humor also implies that you’re a cheerful and positive person in nature and that will indeed have a positive impact in any relationship. Humour is attractive and we all need it.

We’re bound to make mistakes and mess up during a relationship, which will displease and hurt our loved one. As long as it’s something that deserved to be forgiven your partner needs to be bold enough to do so after making you aware of what you’ve done. Problems need to be talked about, cleared and gotten over, and for that, you need someone who values your relationship over anything. So remember to choose a good forgiver.

Your partner should have an undying fascination for you and continuously wants you. It should be someone who looks forward to your calls and text messages, gets excited to be with you and still gets butterflies in their stomach when thinking about you. Also, it should be someone who appreciates you, compliments you and likes to remind you that you’re amazing. All these go to show that they genuinely likes you and really wants you.

We all want someone out of the box and who has something that holds them special. Being adventurous can mean, being a world traveler, the willingness to try new things, craving for challenges, the ability to enjoy simple pleasures or simply the desire to explore. A sense of adventure in a couple helps you to learn more about yourself, about each other and grow together. Being adventurous is lovely and could never do you wrong.

Last, but certainly not the least and in fact one of the most important things we seek out of a relationship, Romance. This is what adds meaning and color to a couple. We need to understand the need for romance and make sure the spark doesn’t die. Being romantic could be a long drive, quietly watching the sunset together, a walk in the park, spontaneous dates, surprising each with something they like or even an occasional candlelight dinner. It could be anything that enhances affection, adoration, and love. Romance feels so special and will make your love life an even special one.

So, my friends, love is great, and to make it great is your job.

So choose wisely, love deeply and stay happy!

Rtr. Kalani Siriwardena

 

 

 

 

 

read more
Joint Projects

The Cluster Project | Sihina Yaathra

12

It was the 14th of December and members from all clubs rallied together at Racecourse at 5: 30 AM (In the morning :D), way past the time they were asked to come( 4:30 AM). Anyway, after all the members came, we left for the school in Chillaw. Half the bus was sleeping at 6:30 AM and the guys got their phones out to take some decent photos of the sleepyheads. I had brought sandwiches according to the plan, but I was betrayed by two of my fellow cluster members who said they would bring too. Anyway, the group enjoyed the sandwiches with some opting for another.

We finally reached the school at 9:30 and was greeted with milk rice and “Katta sambal”. The principal was overjoyed to see and so were the kids. The principal had previously asked some kids to come and help and as they saw us, they had a beaming smile over their face. The students rushed towards us and greeted us saying “Good Morning Aiya” and “Good Morning Aunty”. The female students hid with a shy smile.

After the very satisfying Milk rice, we decided to get to work. The Cluster representatives were allocated parts of the school to be in charge when painting. Each team had around 8 members with a mix of all clubs so that people would get to know each other mingle if needed. The members were decided at the discretion of the cluster reps and Hamdhan.

 

Buckets were brought by our “Baas” and so were paint brushes as asked. We, being amateurs at it, let the Baas mix the paint with water. According to him, we should put 2 liters of water with 1 liter of paint, so we did learn something new.

4 members from Rotaract Club of Chunnakam came soon afterward ready to play dirty. Buckets and Brushes were handed and they got to it without hesitation. This was the first time we, the other cluster representatives met the cluster representative from Chunnakam (Anojan) and was surprised when we saw the size of him( You can imagine a miniature hulk).

2 hours passed and we haven’t completed half of what we had planned to complete. The clubs reps met near the giant teak tree for a discussion.

Shenal says “Machan, my team has completed a lot, I’ve been coaching them on how to do it properly”

And Angelo follows by saying “Yeah same here” my guys needed a little push, but we are handling it”.

Then I say “ Well, our guys are really trying, the front wall was too dirty to paint so we had to clean and one coat isn’t enough we probably need to paint it thrice” and the guys say “Ok ok try to finish it quickly”

And Anuradha says “Ok so, the books will be arranged in the library later, we’ve started painting the walls, there’s a lot of dust but we will manage”.

Everybody goes back to their designated areas and start continuing until lunch.

Before lunch, I went and checked the walls and was surprised by the beauty of it. The guys had done an amazing job, and everybody wanted to perfect it. People were keen on painting every tiny part of the wall, without having and spots. They would paint and re-paint until they got it right. As I was passing the principal, I saw him look at the walls with pride and stared at the walls. The kids had brought their parents to show their new school and the parents blessed us with well wishes.

Then, at 1:30 we were called for lunch and everybody gathered at the classroom to enjoy food prepared by parents. The principal has assigned food for parents and one had brought “dhal curry” and one had a “fish ambul thiyal” and so on. The guys thoroughly enjoyed the meal with most opting for a re-serve. Then for dessert, we had pineapple slices and bananas and me being the fruit lover ate more fruits than the main meal.

After Lunch, we got back to the rest of the work. More people gathered at the gate wall to witness the beauty of it. It wasn’t complete but we felt the beauty it was going to be once it was completed. Then we got the problems. The paint was over and we needed more paint brushes and we needed more wire brushes. But luckily, there was a Hardware shop nearby and one of the parents had a bike. He and I rushed to the store and bought all the necessities and came back and distributed it to the guys.

In the evening we were able to cherish our childhood memories by having “Ice packets” which were bought at the boutique next to the school. The guys really loved, and it brought back some good school memories, although, for some of us, it was the first time.

Then at around 6pm, the work was almost over. The gate wall was over and so was the outer walls of one building. What was remaining was the re-painting the library and one more wall which the guys decided to do on another day.  We left at 6:30 after donating all the books. It took a good 5 minutes for 5 guys to get all the books to the library. The principal and kids couldn’t believe their eyes. We had to keep most of the books on the floor because there wasn’t enough space.

Then near Kaduwela, Anuradha and Shenal agreed to honor the deal and decided to buy the guys some short eats. They bought rolls and patties for everyone from a Perera and Sons close by.

We finally reached Racecourse and the cluster team had to bid farewell with a heavy heart. It was the last time they would see each other for a long time. But we had to learn with only the fond memories.

For me, this cluster project had shown me how people are deep inside. Loyalty towards team members, perseverance, undying commitment and love to truly help ones in need.

Rtr. Hasitha Jayasuriya

 

 

read more
Youth Time

Singularity

sing 2

“By 2030 we would be able to access and share, experiences, thoughts, the wisdom of every human being similar to how we can access the internet today. The need for speech would be removed as we will be able to connect only by our thoughts”

“Singularity”, a phrase derived from mathematics to describe a mathematical object for which the exact properties cannot be analyzed, or where the laws of physics cease to exist. Therefore, it is simply the hypothesis that explains how the advancement in technology would be so complex that even the brightest minds among us will not be able to comprehend it.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) when categorized by intelligence, we have

  1. Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) – The level of AI that exists around us today, from Google assistant to Siri and even advanced as the self-driving car. They’re specialized only in one area and operate only in the range of activities that they are programmed for.
  2. Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) – The form of AI that would be similar to the intelligence of a human being. AGI can learn, innovate, create, imagine, dream, reason and be driven by emotions similar to a human being. Even Though this type of intelligence has not yet been discovered, most people working in the field of AI are convinced that an AGI is possible.
  3. Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI) – When an AI doesn’t just replicate human brain power or behavior but surpasses it, it is called an ASI.

 

How will a singularity begin?

If an Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), were to be invented, it will start to freely improve its own software and hardware to become more intelligent or will design a machine that is smarter than itself. This new and more capable machine would then go on to design a machine which is even more superior to any of the previous ones. So, the cycles of self-improvement and unfolding of machines with higher and higher intelligence continue, until a runaway technological growth beyond any hope of control is triggered. That would result in a rapid emergence of Artificial Super Intelligence that could far surpass all human intelligence. The point which is known as the technological singularity.

 When will it happen?

The tools needed to make such a rapid technological transformation is still unavailable or still at the initial stages of being created, however with every new invention that comes to the market and with the increase in opportunity for anyone to access them , technology advancement is likely to make an exponential progress in the coming few years, instead of a linear one . Suggesting that creations that we were thought might only happen in “a million years”  will most likely happen in the next century.

Ray Kurzweil, a famous futurist, with a track record of 30 years of accurate predictions, who predicted the evolution of the internet well beforehand says

“We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century—it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate).”.

Accordingly, Kurzweil predicts that by 2030 Artificial intelligence will be smart as humans,

and by 2040 AI will not only exceed the brain power of a single human but all humans on earth combined.

Should we Fear it?                                                      

Since the reasoning and insights of an intelligent species such as that of an ASI will be far beyond the understanding capabilities of man, the possibility of not being able to keep up with AI and therefore being dominated by them (similar to the sci-fi movies) is a possible outcome. Physicist Stephen Hawking stated, ” I believe the development of full AI could spell the end of the human race” while public figures like Elon Musk and Bill Gates has also raised concerns regarding a similar future.

However, the more optimistic views on the opportunities that a singularity can bring include, the ability to solve issues such as world hunger, global warming, poverty, etc. Help man become a multi-planetary species or even immortal

Instead of machines ruling over us, people such as Ray Kurzweil believe that humans are likely to modify their biology to implant computer chips to the brain in a way that enables massive intelligence amplification. He stated

“What’s actually happening is machines are powering all of us. They may not yet be inside our bodies, but, by the 2030s, we will connect our neocortex, the part of our brain where we do our thinking, to the cloud.”

Furthermore, cracking the secret to immortality has never been more realistic. Either through the insertion of nanobots to kill viruses to stop the aging process, or by proceeding to an AI body, and abandoning our biological bodies to go live in a simulated virtual world for eternity. Privacy, the consequences of ending the natural process of life and the purpose of living, are all topics that can and will be intensely debated in the coming few years with the dawn of such an evolution. If forecasted accurately this would mean that by 2030 we would be able to access and share, experiences, thoughts, the wisdom of every human being similar to how we can access the internet today. The need for speech will be eliminated as we would be able to connect only by our thoughts. Elon Musk’s neural lace concept of a mesh that allows you to wirelessly connect and interact with computers through your thoughts via an implant in our brain allowing the brain to expand with it, demonstrates how a human brain and computer can be merged.

However, In Spite of the fact that a technological singularity may or may not happen, the world around us is changing at a much faster rate than what many of us are aware of, and we are to witness some of the most groundbreaking inventions in history.

Rtr. Hashini Wickramasuriya

read more
Our Projects

Conquer Colombo 2019

Conquer Colombo

The third week of January is a week like no other for the rotaractors of RACALBS. From the meticulous organization and execution by the organizing committee and the careful preplanning by many of our participants, Conquer Colombo is by far one of the most anticipated and hyped events of the Rotaract calendar. Setting the bar higher than ever before, Conquer Colombo 2019 was back with more new twists and challenges of all forms be it eating challenges, mind challenges and even Augmented Reality. This grand scale project involving almost 500 participants was initiated with the motive of aiding of the club’s major community service project “Project Life”. This project targets at combatting Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in several affected communities in Kebithigollawa in the North Central Province by aiding for the building of Rainwater harvesting systems. Since its inauguration in 2013, Conquer Colombo has been more than successful in aiding project life along with providing a unique experience to its participants.

This year’s conquer Colombo bore the theme of “Monopoly” which amalgamated the concepts of the much-beloved board game of Monopoly into this year’s event. Shifting CC paradigms every year, this year’s event included the opportunity for participants to do 3 optional challenges in addition to the traditional 4 core challenges which was a first in CC history. The difficulty of the 3 optional challenges was color-coded as Blue for the hardest challenges, Yellow for medium and brown for the easiest challenges. This was in line with the monopoly element where the price valuations of properties are in the same respective order with blue having most expensive properties such as Mayfair and Piccadilly. Monopoly was further embedded with the inclusion of “Spin the Wheel” at challenge intersections through which participants would be able to draw chance and community chest cards. These cards acted as power ups which either empowered or even worsened the dynamics of each teams’ game. Every choice mattered in this year’s CC where the teams weighed in the opportunity cost of selecting which level of difficulty of an optional challenge to select, whether the option was cost-effective in terms of the monopoly cash they were to spend, the most time effective routes to take etc. All these factors added in glamour and spice to Conquer Colombo 2019 and truly shifted the metrics of this year’s competition.

The event kickstarted with variety of small entertainment items by a few of the participants as the crowd started registering at Race Course in the morning. As a first-time spectator\organizer at this event, it was amazing for me to see the heightened excitement of what’s to come by both veteran CC participants to the first-timers alike. The highlight of the morning which had everyone chortling over was when the team “Banda forced us to come” drove in a car campaigning for our much beloved COMSERV Director Sandaru a.k.a. Banda’s presidential run for 2020.

 

Following a very eventful morning, the much-awaited race kickstarted at 11.30 with the throwing of the dice. This was followed by a literal stampede of participants racing to their respective stalls to obtain their first clue sheet to the challenge locations. With much frantic confusion and excitement, teams were rushing at every direction to reach their rides and to figure out where to head first. As a first-time challenge head at pearl harbor challenge located at subway fort, I was definitely was in for a big surprise when hordes of frantic participants rushed into the venue too eager to get started with the challenge. It was a quite a challenge for us challenge heads and volunteers both the new and experienced to handle and accommodate the flash mob like crowds, but as time went we got the hang of it and ran our challenges pretty smoothly. With the last team signing at our table (whom we, unfortunately, had to turn away as they were in the wrong challenge location), we had felt a  great rush of relief and also a bit of sadness as we knew Conquer Colombo was almost over for us.  It goes without saying that this year’s CC was truly an experience to remember for both the participants and organizers alike.

The closing ceremony capped off one of the greatest events of the Rotaract calendar on a high note. It started off with the commencement of the raffle draw which is one of the more awaited events during Conquer Colombo. Winners walked away with gift baskets and a variety of exciting gift vouchers. Up next came the awards for best themed, funkiest ride, Supermen and wonder women. Last but not the least, the top fifteen teams of Conquer Colombo 2019 were awarded a variety of exciting prizes from gift baskets to vouchers. Team “Bebaddo” came in third and received a variety of amazing prizes along with an opportunity for an overnight stay at Udawatte Kele forest lodge. Team 2 fast 2 furious came onto take the number 2 spot of this year’s Conquer Colombo winning an overnight stay at Jetwing hotel along with other exciting prizes. National List topped the point list of this year’s event with a total points of to be crowned champions of Conquer Colombo 2019  securing return air tickets to Jakarta, Indonesia among other exciting prizes.

This year’s challenges gave a new experience to our participants which most have never experienced before or wouldn’t experience anywhere else. Regardless of whether our participants managed to break into the top 15 or not, without any doubt, everyone left with a feeling of satisfaction and eagerness to look forward to this event again next year. From deciphering road directions using Augmented reality posters, mind boggling mind challenges such as the bomb challenge to blindfolded cupcake challenges, Conquer Colombo 2019 was definitely not a day to miss. Setting the bar higher than ever before, CC 2019 left quite the mark on the Rotaract calendar and leaving us with the anticipation of an even more awe-inspiring event next year.

Rtr. Asel Gunaratne

(Image sourse: Impulse Inc. )

 

read more
Featured

The Not So Boring Side of Statistics

Cover

What comes to your head when you hear the words “statistical analysis”. You will probably think of people working in front of computers and working with mountains of data. Which sounds really, really boring. Now, what would you think of, when you hear the word “sports”. Probably, the exact opposite. In my blog, I am hoping to explore the world of statistical and performance analysis in sports, focusing on my favorite, cricket.

Sports analytics itself is a relatively recent development which came to the fore when people began to realize the marginal gains in performance and the resultant competitive advantage that could be gained by the systematic analysis of data. I know that all of these sound really boring but what many people nowadays don’t realize is that behind almost every professional sports team or individual there is a team of performance and data analysts sifting through data in order to enhance performance. However, this hasn’t always been the case. Back when sports analytics was a relatively new development teams who might not be as well-resourced as the others they were competing with, have used performance and statistical analysis as a way to perform above expectations. This was well illustrated in the popular Hollywood film, “Moneyball” which told of the real life story of Billy Beane, the manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team who pioneered the use of saber metrics, a sophisticated approach to scouting and analyzing players and thus inspired his team of outsiders to succeed against teams on much higher budgets. I would recommend it as a must-watch film, atleast for anyone who hasn’t been bored to death by my article so far.

“Moneyball” starring Brad Pitt

I said that in this article I would focus mainly on cricket so let me get to the point now. Cricket has a vast well of historical data which can be easily accessed with anyone having a computer and internet. This has enable cricket to position itself as one of the most conducive sports for statistical analysis. The scorecards of every international match as well as the individual player records of any cricketer are available online on a cricket dedicated site such as espncricinfo which also offers a wonderful tool called statsguru for all the cricket fanatics who indulge in a spot of amateur statistical analysis. Cricinfo is also the virtual home of cricket statistics, the same way Lord’s is known as the ‘Home of cricket’ as it is also host to wonderful statisticians such as Steven Lynch, S Rajesh and Anantha Narayanan. However in game performance, analysis is a phenomenon that has only come to the limelight quite recently, as ball-by-ball logging of cricket matches didn’t begin until the 1990s, again with the help of our old friend, espncricinfo (or just cricinfo as it was known back then). John Buchanan, the coach of the all conquering Australian team of the 90s and 2000s was a pioneer in this area but arguably he already had all the necessary playing resources to win against any team.

Statistics shown amidst a match

One cannot speak about performance analysis in cricket without bringing up the name of Nathan Leamon, the current England national cricket team head performance analyst and the head of research and innovation. I am sure all of you cricket and tennis fans out there know of hawk-eye , a computer system which is used to visually track the path of a moving ball. Nathan Leamon was the first person to realize the practical uses of hawk-eye for performance analysis in cricket, as it automatically collected almost all the raw data required. He was also the first person to build a Monte Carlo Simulator to use in cricket as well. A Monte Carlo simulator is a technique used to visualize all possible outcomes of decisions and to assess the impact of risk, enabling a better decision making process. He can be said to be a silent but integral part of the England cricket team which reached the pinnacle of the test cricket rankings.

For all the doubters out there who are still skeptical about the effectiveness of sport analytics let me demonstrate a simple example using cricket again. In the past when a bowler had to bowl to a batsman he had never encountered before, the bowler would have to come up with a plan during the game but nowadays he would be advised by the performance analysis team of that certain batsman’s strengths and weaknesses and he or she would know exactly where to bowl. These type of insights have really been put to use in the shortest version of the game, T20 where the condensed nature of the game means that each individual ball is of vital importance to the result of a game. To give you an illustration of this point let me first mention the names Josh Cobb, Alex Wakely, Stephen Crook, Adam Rossington and Ben Duckett. Chances are that you have never heard of these names unless you are a super cricket fanatic. Now, what if I told you that these are some of the players who have formed the core of one of the most consistent and outstanding T20 teams of the last decade, Northamptonshire. These players along with a few overseas players such as Richard Levi and Rory Kleinveldt ( solid players but by no means superstars) have helped Northamptonshire become the most consistent T20 team in the English domestic circuit. For this they have had a huge helping hand from their performance analysis team which works closely with the team and provides constant insight helping the team identify the relevant decisions to take in each and every situation. Now of course, teams have become more aware of all this sort of stuff and domestic T20 teams are some of the heaviest users of performance analysis and data.

For all the people who have not stopped reading by this point I am assuming that you found something at least a bit interesting about everything I said here. If you are a fan of any sport and have a soft spot for statistics there will always be a variety of twitter feeds giving real time updates about in game statistics and performance such as Cricviz for cricket and Opta for football. For all the people who managed to get to this point thank you for indulging the super nerd in me.

Rtr. Rahul Jeyanthan

read more
Featured

Why do we love to drive?

WHy do we love to drive

Despite soaring levels of congestion, declining levels of courtesy, rising fuel prices and ever more oppressive enforcement of speed, I could still find a million reasons to go out for a drive. It may be driving to university, going to the gym, going grocery shopping, visiting the doctor, dropping by a friend’s place or even dropping by for a small job across town. These activities, these appointments, and burdens have all turned driving into an automated activity. Take all of these out of the equation and all you’re left with is the pure joy of driving.

 

But not everyone enjoys driving. There are also a lot of people who prefer being chauffeured around without having to deal with the stresses of driving during rush hours while they relax in the backseat after a hard day of work. There are circumstances which when they are just right, lots of people enjoy driving, even if those circumstances don’t come along very often, and then there are those, myself included, who enjoy driving every time they do it.

So, bringing you an idea through my perspective, what is it about driving that fascinates me and people like me so much that we don’t ever get bored of it? To me, the only facet of this is the car. Let me explain.

You see, to me cars mean freedom. It’s the first sense of freedom that we ever really get in our lives. That excitement we have when we receive our driving license knowing that it’s the start of a whole new chapter, unlocking seamless possibilities and routes ahead. It’s about the freedom to travel to places that you’ve never been before or see something you’ve never seen before. The opportunities are endless and it all starts with the turn of a key or the push of a button. There cannot be anyone out there who has driven a car and has not felt it, the feeling of downright freedom when you get behind the wheel and turn on that power plant known as the engine.

It is true that the emotions of driving are not quantifiable, hence why it’s so hard to express it but to me personally, a good driving experience will be when the car has good handling, decent power, and proper involvement. Driver involvement I believe, is subjective. Some people may prefer the new electric cars with loads of automation involved bringing about the ease of overall handling and driving. Don’t get me wrong, these cars are impressive in their own right but as I said, driver involvement is subjective and I personally prefer to have either a petrol or diesel engine, good steering feedback, throttle response, braking and one of the most controversial topics of the current day, a manual transmission, on the car I own. The reason for this is because, for me, driving is about the emotional experience as much as it is about the sense of freedom and adventure. It’s about how the car feels, how the car vibrates through the wheel to your hands and the seat to your back, listening to the engine and matching revs to the gear when shifting. So, I do strongly believe that the cars we choose to own and drive are basically an extension of our own personality.

One may ask, why are some of us still so in love with the manual transmission? No, it’s not because the manual makes you manlier, it’s because as Henry Catchpole so wonderfully describes it; fundamentally, the manual transmission heightens your awareness and interactions with almost every facet of the car, adding a very distinct layer of tactility, specifically amplifying your sense of speed which to me is a marvelous feeling. So, with the manual, you just feel more intimately connected with the engine which to a true petrol-head, means that they are literally in heaven.

But that’s all about the emotions involved and the relationship one has with his or her car. There is also the sense of adventure which plays a major role in why we love to drive so much. The simplest example? Taking a girl on a date. You don’t want to call an Uber for that. What you want to do is impress her and it helps a lot when you pick her up and drop her off in your own car. Or your dad’s car.

You thought I forgot about racing? How could I when it’s one of the best activities created by man. That feeling when you and a couple of more friends are driving down Galle road, past 10 in the night and you’re both at a red, parallel to each other,  talking trash, revving those engines, some even their hybrid and electric motors which don’t even come close to the revs of a petrol or diesel engine, but that doesn’t  even matter because when that light turns green, it’s all about that adrenaline rush for the next 50 to 100 meters, the few seconds where you think you’re Lewis Hamilton until of course, you slow down before getting caught to the cops. That feeling of pure excitement and joy you get in those few seconds cannot be gained by the means of any other activity, which is why we love to drive on our own.

There is also the excitement of going places, the opportunity to just plan and go on road trips which is one of the most amazing things to do in your life. You haven’t lived if you haven’t gone on a road trip, doesn’t matter if it’s with your family or friends, you definitely need to go on a road trip and experience a whole new outlook of the experience of driving.

 

Driving gives your life an edge, a different vibe which makes life dynamic, which is human nature and hence it’s thanks to driving that you feel part of nature, part of the world and in control of what’s ahead of you. You decide what matters, you decide when to pause and its people closest to you that get to share this feeling with you. Whether you’re with your friends or with your family, what can be better than this calm yet enriching experience?

This is why despite all the troubles, excitement prevails. Even if you don’t feel the overflowing joy all the time, the feeling is still there every single time you get behind the wheel. This and all those other reasons is why I love driving as much as I do.

 

Rtr. Sandaru Bandara

 

read more
Featured

One strike and you’re out

Athletics – Olympics: Day 14

“If you want to know the value of a millisecond, ask the athlete who won a silver medal at the Olympics or, the athlete whose race ended before it began”

It is only the best of the best who have lived the moment of standing before the finals of the Olympic Games. You and I can only imagine what it feels like. Being under like lights of that field of the Olympic final with a crowd of over 70,000 spectators glancing down at you, eagerly waiting to see who will next hold the title of “The fastest Man on Earth.” Having your proud nation wait breathlessly until you raise the county’s flag, and another globe full watching you through television screens. You’re less than ten seconds away from your victory after the shot of the gun. This moment should feel very special indeed and it has taken these athletes four years of waiting and a lifetime of hard work.

After coming thus far, does it seem possible to believe that you could still mess up? That a matter of a fraction of a second could blow out everything? That you could relegate from an Olympic Finalist to a mere spectator watching your fellow competitors chase the goal without you? Yes, it seems a little too harsh, but so are the rules folks.
In 2010, the IAAF tightened rules for sprinters introducing the zero tolerance rule for false starts. Alternatively referred to as the One-strike-and-you’re-out rule, this would result in immediate disqualification of the athlete in the case of a false start with no warnings or do-overs. This rules was believed to be the cruelest one yet, in all of sports.
However, the IAAS did not make this decision over night. There were a couple of rule changes regarding this matter over the years and various issues arising from them. Therefore after careful consideration, the IAAF have settled to the zero tolerance rule. The rule was officially announced in 2010 after passing 64% approval.
The rules that existed before were quite flexible. Initially sprinters were only disqualified after their second false start. This seemed quite fair towards the runners, although some athletes still let their chance slip. Linford Christie of Great Britain was amongst them when he was dismissed before having the chance to defend his title at the 1996 Olympics. Anyhow, we can all agree that if you false start twice in a single race, that you’ve had your chance.
Later the IAAF identified a few drawbacks of this rule. They believed that it gave the athletes the chance to guess when the gun sounded and gain advantage. Also, having to start races many a times used up a lot of time, especially on television and the events could not be kept to their time slots. This would have also affected the quality of international games. Therefore the IAAF brought in a rule change in 2003.
In 2003 the rules were revised so that only one false start was allowed per race. If one runner false started, the entire field was warned. The next runner to false start would be dismissed regardless of if it was the first one or not. But later it was noticed that relatively slower athletes deliberately jumped the gun the first time to add pressure to the ones who are generally faster out of the blocks. Runners started to mentally affect their opponents as well as not receive punishment for false starting. This was considered unfair even within the rules. Hence, the IAAF saw the need for yet another rule change.
There came the one-and-do rule in 2010; the cruelest of all time. A single false start, or for that matter, the barest of a flinch would result in the dismissal of the athlete. Not even the slightest twitch was allowed.
Imagine finally having your Olympic moment, you’re on the starting blocks, and you scratch you nose and that’s it? You just let your victory slide through your fingertips before you been knew it. Certainly this rule crushed the dreams of many Athletes, and was no exception even to the big man; Usain Bolt.

 

Bolt, also known as “The fastest man on Earth” was ironically one of the few who applauded the zero tolerance rule. He simply couldn’t believe himself when he false started in Daegu at the 2011 world championships leaving the crowd startled. It was heart breaking to watch this man walk out of the fields of the 100m final leaving behind the victory that was destined to him.
He was not alone. British 400m sprinter Christine Ohuruogu was also disqualified at the same championship after false starting at her preliminary heat. She was the gold medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
However, this championship gave a point for the IAAF to prove, resulting in only ten false starts overall under the new rule. This was less than half the number recorded in previous meets under older rules.
Anyhow since many believed that this rule was impractical, the definition of a false start was changed prior to the 2012 Olympics making things a little more flexible. Flinching and twitching was allowed and an athlete would only have a false start called against them if their hands left the ground or their feet the blocks, before the gun. This change resulted in no false starts being recorded at the 2012 Olympics, allowing this rule to settle.
At the 2016 Olympics the 21 year old French hurdler Wilhem Belocian broke the audience’s hearts as he jumped the gun at his 110m hurdles preliminary heat. It was his first time at the Olympics and his Olympic dream ended before it even began. It’s within the rules now and he had to go, but I can’t help feeling bad for this guy.
Does this all seem fair? That one moment could be the difference between everlasting glory and being forgotten forever. Well, it’s awful to accept but that seems the case folks. If you’re at the Olympics games, maybe there ain’t no time for mistakes.

Rtr. Kalani Siriwardena

read more
Featured

Health tips for a better life

Blog

Given today’s hectic lifestyles, it can be a challenge to keep up with all the new discoveries related to exercise, fitness and health. To help fill in the gaps in your knowledge, here are some interesting health- and fitness-related findings and trends.

1. Most people want to have a fun experience when they exercise, but exercising on your own can often feel boring.

From boutique studios to hardcore workouts in gritty industrial spaces to slogging through the mud, this past year showed us that people want to do more than just sweat during their workout time. Rather, they want to have a unique exercise experience that allows them to connect with other like-minded individuals. Whether it is the challenge of the workouts or the opportunity to combine exercise time with social time, high-intensity workouts are clearly more than just a passing fad.

2. A diet with high in processed or red meats could increase the risk of developing cancer.

World Health Organization released a statement indicating that consuming large amounts of red or processed meats could increase one’s risk of developing cancer. While this doesn’t mean that the occasional piece of bacon or grilled T-bone will trigger a heart attack, it does highlight an easily correctible behavior (reducing your consumption of these foods) that could improve your health, reduce the risk of cancer and add years to your life.

3. Having virtual friends who exercise can have a positive impact on your lifestyle.

We all have the friend (or friends) who feels compelled to post a selfie in every conceivable location or constantly provide status updates on the most inane facets of daily living. There is some good news for fitness enthusiasts, however, as emerging research suggests that having virtual friends who exercise can have a positive impact on your lifestyle by helping you to improve your level of physical activity.

4. There are huge benefits of exercise for older adults.

We have known the general benefits of exercise for years, but as the population ages, we’re learning more about the benefits of exercise for older adults. During the later years of the human lifespan, exercise isn’t just about vanity or aesthetics—it’s about promoting good health, improving the quality of life and enhancing cognitive function. Both cardiovascular exercise and resistance training can elevate levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a neurotransmitter responsible for growing new cells in the brain.

5. Staying physically active throughout the day is an important component of achieving and maintaining good health.

We now know that getting to the gym for a workout isn’t enough. In fact, researchers have quantified the negative consequences of remaining sedentary throughout the day and identified the benefits of short bouts of low-intensity physical activity. Healthy behaviors that get people moving throughout the day, such as having a standing desk at work or taking brief walking breaks, can help improve overall health and well-being.

6. Sleep plays an important role in weight loss and maintaining optimal health.

The next time you want to sleep in or spend the day snoozing on the couch, tell yourself it’s part of a well-rounded exercise program. This year, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (yes, there is a whole organization dedicated to learning about sleep) recommended that people get at least seven hours of sleep per night to maintain optimal health. And in a separate study, researchers found that a lack of sleep could lead to weight gain. In other words, sleep plays an important role in weight loss and maintaining optimal health.

7. Fitness is becoming more global.

Worldwide, people are beginning to realize the importance of daily activity and exercise in promoting optimal health. As a result, health club franchises such as Gold’s Gym and Anytime Fitness are expanding internationally in markets such as Indonesia, India, Philippines, and Egypt. If you’re an ACE Certified Fitness Professional and have a desire to live and work overseas, now might be the time to pursue that goal.

8. Women like lifting weights, too.

In gyms around the world, women are muscling the guys out of the squat cage in order to achieve the aesthetic benefits of strength training. Thanks to the impressive results that thousands of women are achieving by participating in high-intensity workout programs, women who might have skipped the weight room in favor of more cardio are learning that gripping and ripping with the iron is a great way to achieve the strength and aesthetics they desire.

Rtr. Naweed Niyaz

read more
Featured

Initiative Q: Free Lunch?

1_WP8Nha253WAPliuGE524gg

Seen this?

 

Followed by this?

And were you like?

Ladies and Gentleman, let me introduce you to the payment system of the future (drumroll) Initiative Q.

Initiative Q is an initiative by the former serial entrepreneur and PayPal guy, Mr. Saar Wilf, which aims at creating a digital global payment system by issuing a dedicated centralized private currency known as Q tokens.

All they require from your end would be:

  1. Your Full Name
  2. Email Address
  3. To send invites to your friends to do the same
  4. That’s it.
  5. I like lists.

Wait.

 

 “Is this like bitcoin?”

Yes.

No.

Not Really 🙂

Initiative Q, unlike Bitcoin, is not a crypto-currency. Crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple are based on the blockchain technology. Initiative Q on the other hand, targets on having a centralized database which would track the transactions carried out using the Q tokens.

“Free Money!!!”

Not yet.

Right now the tokens you earn are worthless and you cannot use those tokens to trade even in the Initiative Q’s own servers either.

Now that you read so far into this article, let’s start answering the real questions

  1. How can I expect to gain anything out of this?

In order for this system to start functioning, this system should be adopted by a significant global population. As economics dictates, money has no value without perceived value. To quote the founders of this initiative, it faces the chicken and egg scenario:

“No buyer wants to join a new network with no sellers, and no seller will offer a payment option that no buyer uses.”

To get around this, Initiative Q would reward you with free tokens if you are to sign up and invite five more of your friends (these friends who would supposedly invite 5 more). They also go onto say that the earlier you adopt the more tokens you would earn.

 Invite friends who would invite more friends… PYRAMID SCHEME!!!!

 

I wouldn’t really deny that it isn’t (hold your horses), but the only pyramid scheme-like features it does have is its marketing method. A typical pyramid scheme would require you to both make a payment or purchase and distribute a certain product which this initiative doesn’t entail. Since money isn’t changing hands through their methods, there really isn’t anything bad about it.

Fingers crossed!! if all goes according to how the founders speculate this to be, I’d say you’d be looking at a few million rupees by then.

  1. So WHEN will I get MY millions?

 

That’s the best part. You probably won’t.

Raised your hopes too high? Well to give my honest opinion this system already faces an uphill battle against regulatory commissions from all the different countries, implementing security networks etc.  to achieve its very grandiose plans. So even if this works, it would definitely take many years till you would see some value in those Q tokens. To quote the founder of initiative Q Saar Wilf “It is not a get rich quick scheme and I think that’s where people get confused. You have to reach critical mass if you want to create a currency and that is what we’re trying to do.”

Just keep in mind that this by no means a “Get rich quick” scheme. If at all, you would be lucky if you get rich at all in the distant future through this technology. Aligning to what the founders of this initiative have stated, I’d recommend you treat this as a “Free Lottery Ticket” rather than a definite speculative investment.

Bitcoin’s success story has inspired a lot of new investors to give proper consideration to cryptocurrency and similar digital financial technology. Certain other cryptocurrencies also faced this surge in popularity even extremely ridiculous ones, such Doge coins (yeah you read it right) which actually managed to earn a market cap of over $650 million. This sort of exciting technology also seen its share of downfall as we saw with the crashing of the bitconnect bubble which was worth around $3 billion dollars which left so many investors with nothing but broken hopes and empty pockets.

Initiative Q, on the other hand, doesn’t ask you for an investment of any sort which would bring you to the question.

  1.  Is there anything to lose?

 

Most Pyramid or Ponzi schemes would usually entail dubious promises of future returns for a certain initial payment, which really isn’t relevant when discussing initiative Q (at least for now).  If there is any threat it would be the fact that they do nevertheless collect certain information which is your name and email address. While I do understand that most of you reading this article do already give out these details anyway to all kinds of websites and apps, one major fact which I do take into account is that the information this system would end up collecting is that of people who are specifically interested and are very naive (including myself) with regards to “Get Rich Quick” schemes. If this initiative fails (which it has a high probability to), the company may sell this database to scammers (to whom this would be a fortune) to pay its bills. As the saying goes “ If you aren’t paying for it, you are the product”.

Again beyond the possibility of gaining nothing but a spam box full of scam emails, there really isn’t much to lose.

Initiative Q promises a better alternative to existing conventional financial systems and existing blockchain based cryptocurrency.

Its plans still seem ambiguous and it remains still questionable whether it can solve existing loopholes in the current digital financial systems such as cryptocurrency.  But nevertheless it opens the possibility for the advancement of technology and we know all too well to say that this advancement would not be achieved overnight.

Fingers crossed. This will change the future.

Rtr. Asel Gunaratne

read more