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I Love The Internet

The Internet — My Strength, My Shelter, My All in All

To begin with…

I have always hated the linearity of school education. I find no justification for the mechanisation of learning. When I say these, I am referring to the division of courses into distinct units to be learned in set timeframes, the testing of subjects thus learned through sterile examination systems which reward retention powers more than expressive and creative talents and finally the preposterous yardstick of achievement called marks (or grades these days).

Education Sucks
Credit: thisisgraeme

And harbouring such opinions seemed sinful and expressing them, unforgivable blasphemy, especially since I enjoyed good rapport with the system by securing excellent marks. And as such those were sentiments I shared with but only a few. Of course, such a sweeping indictment will require some, perhaps a lot of, qualification. However, I refuse to offer any for this post is not about the things that are wrong with our education system and also because such an exercise would consume an inordinately large part of this essay so as to belittle its whose purpose. But I will only comment that if you have ever attended school in Nagaland (and in most places elsewhere), you ought to know, even if you don’t agree with, what I am talking about.

Oh the Internet…

With that out of the way, for now at least, I come to the purpose of this post which is to share with you the wonderful therapeutic powers of the Internet (Yes, I spelled it with a capital ‘I’.). I could go on for a long time about why I love the Internet.

Yesterday (November 5, 2016) threw up a side of the Internet that I had known to exist yet had never experienced. It was an experience I could relate to in the most honest, personal and profound manner. It gave me courage and it gave me hope. It was a video! Yes, it was a TEDx talk!![1] And yes, it was delivered by John Green!!![2] (The video is embedded at the end. You can simply skip everything else and watch it. Thank you.)

John’s talk…

John opens with how a cartographer’s imaginary town in New York, added solely for protecting copyright, became a real one simply because the town was there on the map and people kept on visiting it thinking it was a real town. This is an extremely powerful and inspiring metaphor for anyone pursuing something different. It tells you that it is not the world around that has to shape you but that you too can shape the world around you.

(T)he overall shape of the world is obviously going to affect our maps. But…the manner in which we map the world changes the world The world is changed by our maps of the world.

Necktie=Noose
Source: reddit

He talks about how he thought “education was just a series of hurdles that had been erected before me” and how those hurdles seemed “completely arbitrary”. He mentions how he felt as a kid that people with the good jobs “literally put nooses on themselves” ever single morning. He explains how in high school, thanks to “people who celebrated intellectualism and engagement” and who treated his detachment as normal, he became a learner and learned stuff because learning was cool. He recalls very interesting stories behind some of the things he learned. He also describes how, at one point, he lost all that and how Ze Frank[3], through the Internet, helped him back to a learning community. He then goes on about how online spaces (YouTube for example where he and others host the highly regarded CrashCourse series) have become the learning communities for a new generation of learners. 

It mattered to me…

All of these resonate deeply with me. I fail to see much use in the education system of today where, to quote the immortal words of Ranchod Das Chanchad, har sal gadhe manufacture hota hain. I cannot see anything personally exciting about the usual jobs that many of us and most of our parents seem to revere. I am tired of being treated as a specimen, a wonder who holds with him the fortunes of the family and the community. I am disgusted when I am told  —  and this has happened quite often — that whatever I learn should be determined by whether that might help me in clearing the Civil Services. The attitudes towards learning that I internally rant against are so pervasive that they are like the air we breathe — taken for granted without question.

This was exhausting, mentally and emotionally. I could not seek comfort in the places I normally would because those very places were the cause of my discomfort. And this is where the Internet stepped in. Yes, the Internet. Apart from being an endless source of rad memes and cat gifs and top ten lists and scandalous ads; besides being my teacher-in-chief, my prime facilitator in an endeavour I hold dear — natural unforced learning; the Internet turned out also to be a source of solace and courage. This is something I cannot say about anything else. Maybe you could find too! Maybe you already have! Maybe this could be it! In any case, happy surfing.

Life is Learning
Source: westlothian

And here’s the TEDx Talk.


1. You probably know TED. If not, what the hell have you been doing on the Internet?[^]
2. You might probably not know John Green. But you have seen the movie The Fault In Our Stars. Or perhaps the CrashCourse series on YouTube. No? Well, he wrote the book and created the series. But damn, what the hell have you been doing on the Internet?[^]
3. Of course, you don’t know him. Oh you do? Sorry. Ze is awesome. Check out this surprisingly solemn talk, or this hilarious true facts clip, or this creepily cute teddy video[^]

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Curiosity Education Cat Died Nobly

Curiosity — Where art thou?

(This article was written last summer (2015) for my then college’s department magazine. The events referred to are a little dated but still, I believe, relevant.)
Curiosity might have killed the cat but it is the lack of curiosity that might prove to be our undoing.
Curiosity Killed the Cat
Credit: quoteaddicts.com

Because…

In late 2013, reports of Bihar going crazy over a misreported scarcity of salt created such pandemonium in Nagaland that grocery shops even in remote villages — as a result of panic buying — reportedly ran out of stock within hours. Many foxy dealers cashed in on the confusion. Yes, we cracked jokes and laughed at ourselves over the following days but our folly had unwittingly been exposed.

And…

The incident, while relatively harmless in itself, betray a pitiable weakness of gullibility on our part. That’s because we are too ignorant – only that can explain why the ridiculous rumour of an impending salt crisis found the number of takers that it did. But worse still, we are too credulous or lazy or both to take up a questioning stance. In this case, a simple exercise in common sense (or a single Google search) would have been sufficient to extinguish the tall flames of a purported salt scarcity. We are needlessly alarmed by misinformation.

So…

Is this something we should be worried about? Definitely. Not just because we don’t know (I hope we do now) that salt is, for all practical purposes, an inexhaustible resource; but importantly because the attitude of accepting things as they are (or, more frequently these days, as they are shared on social media or forwarded on Whatsapp) without question, an utter lack of curiosity in other words, permeates and endangers other important spheres of our personal and public lives.

For instance…

The recent March 5 incident is a good if unfortunate illustration of what uninformed frenzy can lead to. How easily swayed we are by disinformation! I personally think that few among the protesters, and none of those who participated in the lynching, cared to read the facts of the case as they appeared in the dailies — to say little or nothing of critically examining the integrity of the allegations. Now, what we are left with is a disturbed conscience, a damaged image and no mobile internet.

Also…

Meek compliance to societal prescription appears to be an unwritten rule. Most degree students have been launched into the same fixed trajectory that will one day inject only a few of them into stable orbits around NL 10s. This is madness engineered by a perverted society that has, for reasons that escape me, chosen to accord esteem and reverence disproportionately to high administrative officers, engineers and doctors. Isn’t this pushing us into an unsustainable future? I’d argue it already has.

Now…

It requires no mentioning that a vigilant, well informed and, to a certain extent, even suspicious citizenry is vital for any healthy society. This is of even greater consequence in our context for it is a time of great uncertainty in which we are living. We are surrounded by a deluge of pressing issues – the overwhelming incidence of corruption at all levels of the government machinery which has disheartened and disgusted one and all, the Naga political movement which has left many of us confused about the present and concerned of the future, the question of commercial development vis-à-vis traditional ownership rights and many more. During such a crucial time, shall we remain uninformed and unwary? We can ill afford to.

Therefore…

What we need is a revival of the human spirit – the spirit of enquiry or ‘the scientific temper’, to use a Nehruvian phrase. Only the curious have things to find and learn. As the foundation of tomorrow’s society, we have to be curious – about our history, culture, attitudes and indeed about everything under the sun. Only then will we be in a position to develop our own ideas and opinions. Be nosey; ask questions; be skeptical.  By doing so, not only will we prevent the occurrence of shameful incidents like the one that just transpired but we will also be building up a secure intellectual foundation on which the grand social edifices of progress and prosperity may be firmly erected.

Curiosity Education Cat Died Nobly

TR Zeliang

Lying — It’s only a Matter of Degree

As much as I hate being embarrassed or seeing somebody embarrassed, I had silently been hoping for some dhamaka out of our Hon’ble Chief Minister’s (hereafter HCM) qualification row. Sadly, after all the twists and turns and bumps and delays that constitute the legal process — much like travelling on our roads — the issue, or “non-issue” according to a party which shall not be named, ended in a whimper. Here’s the story.

Yes, the story…

The HCM had, in his affidavit submitted as part of his candidature to the general elections of 2013, declared himself as a graduate from Kohima College under NEHU passed in 1980.

Qualification of TR Zeliang

Relevant document!

#1 Except…

IPC 417 & 468, ROPA 125A
Relevant sections of the law!

He didn’t. Two RTIs filed in July and August 2015 (the replies of which haven’t been made public as far as I know) had revealed that he had appeared in 1979 from Kohima College and failed in all subjects and did not appear again. Naturally, somebody filed a complaint against the HCM  for “cheating and forgery” and misleading the public with “false information”. Strangely the complainant withdrew (‘gentleman had the decency to withdraw’, according to the party which shall not be named) the complaint and issued an unbelievable public apology stating that he was “misled into appending his signature on a prepared document“. Seriously?

Anyway, with the skeleton out of the closet, somebody else took up the mantle. But the FIR that was filed stalled, thanks to sluggish police action (‘investigations were in the process‘, maintains the party which shall not be named).  A writ petition with the Kohima Bench of the Gauhati High Court (hereafter High Court) followed, requesting its direction to the police for registering the FIR. However, the petition did not, in the view of the court, “disclose commission of a cognizable offence” [read: specifically mention a serious crime which could be pursued by the police without a thumbs up from the court] and the court determined, drawing upon the judgment of Lalita Kumari vs Govt.Of U.P.& Ors [read: knowing that the police has the power to take its own sweet time to investigate crimes which can be pursued only with a thumbs up from the court before taking them up], that it, the petition, was “devoid of merit”. It was thrown out. The story ended there.

#2 Except…

It didn’t. Unfazed, a complaint was filed in the court of the Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Kohima followed by another complaint, this time by a certain committee. The court summoned the appropriate people (registrar and principal) from the appropriate institutions (NEHU and Kohima College) and the resulting examination proved that the allegations were right. The Magistrate therefore “issued process” [read: ordered the respondent to appear before it] and set the date of hearing on 7 January 2016. The case was getting somewhere.

#3 Except…

It wasn’t. The order was “stayed” [read: intercepted] by the High Court at the instance of the HCM’s counsel. At the same time, the case was listed for hearing on 20 January which ended with the Judge “reserving” [read: delaying] his order. Meanwhile, another person filed a complaint with the Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Peren regarding the same issue.

Copy of Legal Paper Zeliang
Relevant document! Credit: easternmirrornagaland.com

Then there were judgments, revision petitions, deferments, adjournments and reservations [read: weird things which we cannot begin to contemplate, let alone understand]. Finally, in April, the High Court gave a decision we could understand.

#4 Except…

Really? It transferred the first complaint — the one that was filed after the writ petition was thrown out because it was “devoid of merit”, I love that phrase — to the learned JMFC, Peren to be considered along with the last complaint — the one filed in 2016. The JMFC, Peren was directed to conduct a hearing on “limitation” [read: whether the complaints were filed after they ceased to matter]. The other one filed by that committee was “quashed” [read: violated and laid waste]. Then finally, on June 14, the case was heard.

#5 Except…

Not exactly. For some reason, the respondent failed to turn up and his counsel allegedly turned up 30 minutes late. After much, I imagine, courtroom drama, the JMFC, Peren granted a 2-week extension to the respondent making it clear that no further adjournments will be given.

In the meantime, the HCM appealed for a “Special Leave Petition (SLP)” [read: special order from the principal — Supreme Court — to stop the punishment being given by the teacher — High Court] at the Supreme Court. The SC found it unnecessary to entertain the petition. The complainants saw the move as desperation and must have smiled in glee at the SC’s order. However, the party which shall not be named, unsurprisingly, chose to differ stating that the order “strengthened” the HCM’s position!

All the same, there was now no stopping the winds of justice from uprooting all that is unfair and untrue and unkind and…

#6 Except…

CrPC 468
Relevant section of CrPC!

CrPC. There’s nobody, I hope, who hasn’t heard of Section 144. That dreaded curfew imposing section! This time though, it was Section 468. But before that, the JMFC, Peren heard the counsels on the appointed date and chose to reserve the judgment. Suspense! Only that it was broken the next day. Damn.

Verdict:  dismissed
Reason: barred by limitation
Observation: case in the shape of a political vendetta

The case dismissed and political vendetta (that’s curious though!) part is pretty straightforward. Barred by limitation, translated into English, means the cases were filed too late by the complainants. Section 468 gives the plaintiffs [read: complainants (the word became boring)] one year (since Section 125A of RoPA 1951 provides for a term of imprisonment upto 6 months) during which to file their complaints. Now, the affidavit was submitted and subsequently uploaded to the website of the Chief Electoral Officer, Nagaland in February 2013. So, the period of limitation lapsed by February 2014. And since the information was in public domain from February 2013, there wasn’t a satisfactory reason, in the eyes of the learned JMFC, Peren to excuse the delay in filing the complaints. So that’s that. An anticlimactic end to the saga.

#7 Except…

It might not be. The petitioners always have recourse to a higher court but, lets face it, it’s a thankless, expensive and futile exercise. No one has won here because all of us have lost. Remember, neither the party nor the HCM, denies the allegations. Of course, as has been expressed many times by various people, qualification is not a criteria for elected office. However, lying about it on a sworn document is hardly something I expected the state’s foremost executive to do. That’s why all of us have lost.

Thoughts…

The making of this post gave me the chance to go through a number of press releases and statements by various parties and organisations. Oh! the petty childish games being played. The culture of misusing and abusing select English phrases over and over in press releases and rejoinders and rejoinders to those rejoinders with nothing novel, insightful or informative in them is deeply saddening. In front of an informed and educated citizenry, they would be a perennial  source of amusement. But in front of a fickle and ill-informed people like us, they continue to misinform and disinform making our society and polity even weaker. They can and should, nay they must, do better.

And the qualification case?Oh! I don’t know. I guess, que sera sera. Except…

Launchy Demo

Essential PC Apps

As a person whose PC is his primary companion, I am  well versed with the pain involved in performing the most basic tasks on a Windows machine. It is third party apps that makes the relationship manageable. Windows comes with more tools than you’ll ever need but very few of them are optimized for the task at hand. Take, for example, Windows’ default file copy handler which is terrible in every way. So, there is wisdom in seeking out third-party apps — available in, literally, the thousands — which can save you a lot of time. Here is a list of four basic apps that I use frequently in no particular order. They are available for free. If you aren’t using them, get them now!

#Everything

If you are tired of the slow and unreliable Search function that comes with Explorer — who isn’t? — it’s time to get Everything. Because Everything is awesome. Forgive that tangent! Everything is a small utility that makes searching for files a snap. This is especially useful if you have a chaotic high capacity drive. It indexes the all files in a database document and spits out the results as you type with zero lag. This app is how you make the lightning fast searches you’ve always wanted to make on the awfully slow hard drive you’ve always had.

Everything at work
Everything in action

#Launchy

Launchy allows you to launch any program with just a few keystrokes. You can get rid of all those shortcuts cluttering your desktop. Generally, you’d want Launchy to store the executable files (those with the extension .exe) from the Program Files folder located in the system partition although it can store pretty much anything from any specified folder — a neat feature if you have portable programs. You can even perform basic calculations by enabling the Calcy plugin.

Use Alt+Spacebar hotkey to bring up the app and even before you’ve finished typing the name of the program, Launchy will bring it up. (If you use Alt+Spacebar for minimising/restoring/closing windows, it’s high time to switch to Win+Up arrow/Win+Down arrow)

Launchy Demo
Launchy in action
Launchy Calculator
Launchy Calcy

#TeraCopy

If there is one advice about using Explorer’s copy handler, it’s don’t. It is slow, it can’t queue files and it’s handling of multiple transfers is unreliable. Use anything else. Of course, using a third party app is not going to give you blazing fast transfer speeds. Speed is determind by your hardware. What you do get is tons of useful functionality.

TeraCopy in just one of the many many great options. Its UI is slick and minimalistic — a treat for sore eyes. It can handle as many simultaneous transfers as you need. It allows to you to pause the transfer if you notice a bottleneck and skip files if there are errors. The paid version even allows you to remove files already added to the queue.

TeraCopy at work
TeraCopy in action

#Recuva

Accidental deletions are a common occurrence. And if you’re used to Shift+Delete, even the Recycle Bin becomes useless. Often, you’ll have SD cards and Flash drives with files erroneously deleted. The great news is that the files aren’t actually lost and it is easy to recover them provided you haven’t overwritten them.

Recuva is a small data recovery program that has proven to be invaluable for my careless self. It provides a handy context menu option for targeting specific drives or even folders. If there is no overwriting, the files should appear with a green badge. Simply select the files, hit recover and specify an output folder (preferably on a separate drive or partition).

Recuva at work


The screencasts and the screenshots are courtesy Apowersoft Free Screen Recorder. The GIFs were made using the open-source  GIMP.

Lamb of God Logo

How to create the Lamb of God logo

Whats cooking…

Lamb of God Sturm Und DrangPhotoshop is known for it awesome photo manipulation features. But what about text? It is definitely not a layout program but it has a text engine that is as intuitive to use as it is powerful. This is a small project I undertook to design Lamb of God’s logo.

What you’ll need…

  1. Photoshop (pretty much any version upwards of 7.0)
  2. Basic Photoshop skills
  3. Papyrus font (get it here)
  4. 30 minutes

Before beginning…

A quick glance at the very basics of typesetting. The Character panel (Window>Character) contains a plethora of buttons — some straightforward, others less so. Those that will be used have been annotated below.

Kerning Leading Tracking Baseline-Shift

Kerning: Controls the space between two adjacent characters.
Baseline-Shift: Shifts text above or below the baseline — that imaginary line on which a line of text rests.
Leading: Controls space between lines.
Tracking: Controls space between individual characters in lines or paragraphs of text.

Here we go…

Create a new file (File>New). I pegged my dimensions at 1000px by 1000px.

Create New File
Choose the Text tool from the Tools panel and type ‘lamb of god’ with each word in a different line. Change the font to Papyrus and choose an appropriate font size and font color. If the panels are missing, summon them through the Window menu.
Lamb of God
As you can see, there is a lot of space between characters. Adjust the tracking. Select the text and hold the Alt key while tapping the left or right arrow (left decreases, right increases). Of course, you can always choose to enter the values manually or drag the handles that appear when you mouse over the buttons. Should you go with keyboard shortcuts however — and that is what this pseudo-tutorial would recommend — bear in mind that left Alt gives finer control than right Alt. This nifty feature applies for baseline shift, leading and kerning too. Sweet!
Lamb
Raise the letters “a” and “b” from the baseline a wee bit. Select each letter and hold Shift+Alt while tapping the up arrow.
Baseline Shifted
Select the second line. Reduce the font to the appropriate size. With the text still selected, hold Alt and press the up arrow. This will raise the second line closer to the first — reduce the leading in other words. Increase the left indent. You can simply add spaces if that’s more your speed but kerning gives greater control. Kerning can be achieved by holding Alt and tapping the left or right arrow (left decreases, right increases) with the cursor placed between the two characters to be kerned. In this case however, it will be before “o”.
Leading Adjusted Second Line
Decrease the font size of the third line a little. Increase the indent. As pointed out earlier, you can simply add spaces or adjust the kerning. Decrease the leading to bring it closer to the first two lines. Small refinements will be necessary. For instance, the letters “o” and “d” were kerned to make them touch each other and raised a little bit from the baseline.
Third Line KernedAnd that’s pretty much it. At least, that’s the most we can do with text alone.
Logo Text
We can add the additional lines by copying and pasting similar portions from the text itself. This will require rasterization, copying, pasting and transform effects which cannot be covered here.
Logo Lines Added
And maybe add some fancy layer styles. I have added a reddish inner glow and overlaid the text with a pattern.
Lamb of God Logo
Thief of time!

Survival of the … Latest?

Procrastination
Image Credit: The Awkward Yeti

College is hard. Should your foolish head doubt this timeless truth, walk in the shoes of an undergraduate juggling Clash of Clans, studies and doing nothing on a daily basis. No student worthy of the name has the time or the sense to worry about smelly shoes, let alone washing them; and so, the exercise I advise will assuredly overpower not just the doubts but also the consciousness of any mindless doubting Thomas. Having thus incontrovertibly established the veracity of the statement ‘college is hard’, we may proceed to the vexed question of how the unfortunate species condemned to the harsh environs of college survives . An extraordinary adaptation engendered by the unforgiving scholastic climate may provide a credible clue — and that is the ability to, despite all conceivable forms of pressure or incentive, get things done only at the last possible moment. The fascinating process of writing Assignments is most illustrative of this skill — a skill impelled by necessity and honed by continued practice.

Like ads on free apps, Assignments are a loathed bunch tolerated only because of their indispensability  — which is to say that they carry marks. First, of course, is that you have to do nothing — not until submission is a few working hours away. Procrastination is a virtue without whose services — we all agree on the “thief of time” description — many would have no time at all for useful activities like dreaming, snoring and staring at pictures of the Lamborghini Centenario. For those of you shaking your heads in disbelief at the omission of gaming, dating and staring at videos of cats, may I point out that what is useful constitutes an intensely subjective matter and that you can substitute my list with activities of your choice without disturbing the integrity of my assertion.

Assignment_Topic
Oh Thank God! (Trigonometry during Pol Sci lectures is no sin!)

Once submission is due, the first point of order is to get the topic. Unless it has unknowingly been scribbled onto the disused pages of a Classmate (not the friend but the notebook), it will have to be found, which is usually through annoyed half-asleep friends over congested networks. The second is to simply let Google do the rest! Clicking on links that the search engine spits out on its first page is a minor inconvenience. And since plagiarism has yet to spread it’s stifling root system, indeed sprout, in this part of the world, copying directly from webpages is not only expedient but also wise. I would however add that the smart generally refrain from using Wikipedia’s extensive resources because the sheer number of citations on any given page make it unsuitable for profitable extraction. The tremendous, and not to mention meticulous, editing faculties required for the deletion of innumerable scattered superscripts is a luxury you don’t have when it’s two in the morning and only two hours before submission (you have to sleep and eat, no?).

Cover_Topic
Because the Topic is not important!

What remains after all the hard(ly?) work is the transfer of randomly selected paragraphs in neat handwriting to A4 sheets. It is a given that the word ‘Assignment’, and less frequently, the name of the subject, be treated with exotic fonts and streaks of colour and emblazoned across the cover page. Meanwhile, the topic is relegated to the indignity of being scrawled by the flimsy tip of a Cello Maxriter.

The dilemma turns to the bibliography. A list of books, real or imagined, often it’s the latter, must be provided as a matter of procedure and also, by happenstance I’m sure, as a matter of marks even if the Assignment requires individual opinion, suggested by the phrase “why do you think”, on why Alexander Pope positions “brutes” below “men” in his grand scheme of the universe. Maybe because “brutes”, unlike “men”, lack the power to fabricate non-existent sources with which to back up empty and disjointed explanations. Anyway, this dilemma kicks up frenzied activity inside classes where amidst the chaos of blank sheets, makeshift rulers, capless pens and students rushing from one promising bench to the next, the only words discernible in the din are ‘bibliography’ and ‘stapler’. The veritable storm starts to recede when the supply of staples has been exhausted and the owner, harassed to no end, refuses to supply more and calms only after the details of the four relevant books available in the library have been distorted beyond worldly comprehension — much,  I might add, to the gleeful satisfaction of everyone except the lecturer concerned.

The amount of hard work and ingenuity concentrated within the fleeting minutes of the proverbial eleventh hour appears to be an unaccountable aberration given the rather unexceptional standards maintained by the typical undergraduate. This, and may the Almighty shower abundant grace, defies all stereotypes. But I’d say it is only natural that breathless exertion should follow prolonged lethargy. And since it is natural, it is desirable. It is desirable because prolonged exertion is fatal and breathless lethargy doesn’t mean anything. And that’s how the species in consideration survives. Some have even been said to thrive! And to anyone confused as to the point of this piece, sometimes the point is that there is no point.

Cryptic Crosswords

While the word ‘cryptic’ might scare people off, cryptic crosswords are actually easier (if you ask me) and  more fulfilling to solve than quick crosswords. The secret lies in the clues!

Cryptic clues contain three things: a definition, wordplay and nothing else. The definition can be at the start or end but never in the middle of the clue. The wordplay could be one of many types which will help you (or mislead you if you read it wrong!) solve the entry. And all that will always be wrapped in grammatically correct construction. But often the sentence itself will have little, if any, relation to the eventual answer. Be wary!

If you have never tackled a cryptic crossword before, this would be the right time to familiarize yourself with its basics and the many types of clues you can expect to encounter.

If you are already comfortable with the basics, explore more here or here or indeed anywhere.

Grab the nearest newspaper, get a pen (you won’t need erasing if you play right!) and get going.

Here is today’s crossword from Nagaland Post solved.

Cryptic_Crossword_18Oct2015

And these are the clues with the answers. The definitions are bold-faced.

Across

1. I'm amused about cold area in pub (5)
 Local
4. Pig accepting messy home in a way (7)
 Somehow
8. Pop star having celebration with heavenly food brought round (7)
 Madonna
9. Traced, tied, and taken out (5)
 Drawn
10. Bottle never cracked (5)
 Nerve
11. If possible, attend to some animal sound (5)
 Bleat
13. Block request for woven material (6)
 Damask
15. Tool found by architect in front of church (6)
 Wrench
18. In the centre of San Francisco Michael Palin's amusing (5)
 Comic
20. Row about head of government being an aggressive type (5)
 Tiger
23. Warning when first couple have left room (5)
 Amber
24. Expressions of discontent, say, in manuscript (7)
 Mutters
26. Thick poles in river (5)
 Dense

Down

1. Drink made Noel tipsy (8)
 Lemonade
 2. A tree that's cared about (5)
 Cedar
 3. Old soldiers dance (7)
 Lancers
 4. Bashful about a couple of bishops? That's contemptible (6)
 Shabby
 5. An insect, say, not very bright, ascending (5)
 Midge
 6. Cheer for revolution in Teheran (7)
 Hearten
 7. Pale old penny that's used by a magician (4)
 Wand
 12. Hypocrite taking pence before he accepts a pay increase (8)
 Pharisee
 14. Horrible bra came undone (7)
 Macabre
 16. Staff going round gallery, showing what Turner did? (7)*
 Rotated
 17. Man with cue, getting break, displays keen perception (6)
 Acumen
 19. Roman god penning English horses (5)
 Mares
 21. Inexperienced environmentalist (5)**
 Green
 22. Disney characters seen from low altitude (4)
 Walt

*A true cryptic clue. Yes, when you see question marks, its time to put your thinking cap on.

**A double definition where the clue is made up of two definitions.

I am a novice and I’ll admit I have doubts with two answers but heck, it was fun doing it and that’s what matters. Questions are welcome.