Sunday, April 30, 2006

Rohit's back

Rohit was sent to Hyderabad en route to an assignment in Hong Kong. He came back yesterday to Bangalore after having refused the posting saying that it wasn't challenging enough! The bugger showed up at my doorstep this morning with this piece of information. I was taken aback. Anyway, I'm sure he had put in sufficient thought before junking the offer.

Friday, April 28, 2006

It's GB for Prats

Called him up last night. Strange how little time life grants us to know others. Stranger still how we waste most of the precious little in remaining ignorant of each other. Strangest still how obstinately we decide to remain the way we are-strangers by default.

Prats called me up again at 7:45 morn (departure time for his train) to exchange some words. He got the SU berth, my favorite! He must be in the train right now, reminiscing his brief stay in Bangalore. His escape has earned him the envy of many folks who would like to follow suit!

I wish him a safe trip and a great career in the City of Joy. I sure hope to meet him when I'm home for vacation.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I got lucky today...twice!

Do the Microsoft people spy on my blog?!!! I know Inktomi regularly indexes my page, but I don't really think it has the intelligence to report to Microsoft my cribbing about not being given access to its Live Mail Beta! I now have good reason to believe some snooping going around here!

After being refused a previous offer to gain access to Live Mail Beta (just because mine was an Indian account), I was surprised to see Microsoft inviting me again to try out its overhaul of the venerable Hotmail. And this time my advances weren't spurned!

Prima facie, Live Mail seems to closely parallel the philosophy behind Yahoo! Mail's change of interface. Now comparing the two facelifts (both thrust upon me today!) wouldn't really be fair- not without me devoting sufficient time to each one of them. To make matters worse, Santosh's computer has the redoubtable screen-resolution of 800*600.

But if I'm allowed to be judgmental without being judicious (just this one time!), I would pick Yahoo! Mail as the better of the two.

I love being pampered thus!
I've finally been invited to the Yahoo! Mail Beta after being on its waiting list for so long that I can't even remember since when I started tracking the developments! I thought my favorite site had ditched its most fanatic devotee. What made the wait more acrid was Rajat's invitation to the beta long before mine.

All is forgiven! The beta has indeed lived up to its hype and I must say the interface is absolutely stunning, closely resembling those of standard mail clients. Strangely enough, IE7 is not supported, though the site clearly states that IE5.5 and above are supported!

Anyway, I switched to Firefox (I was trying IE today after a long hiatus) and Yahoo! Mail worked flawlessly. However, I have good reason to believe Yahoo! Mail Beta's interface will be soon matched feature-for-feature by Microsoft Live Mail. Their interface is being build on similar promises and the preview (available only to a select few...Indian accounts not allowed) seems to be equally good. There's also news of Microsoft creating a special mail client that supports multiple Hotmail/Live mail accounts along with standard POP3 accounts. Hotmail and Gmail loyalists (count me in!) would find this hard to resist.

Oops...almost forgot! The new interface supports RSS feeds originally placed in My Yahoo! too. So that should help you do away with conventional newsreaders or even web-based newsreaders like Google Reader, which has been very buggy.

Turning my attention to IE7, there are some anomalies I've come across. If the taskbar is fairly full and IE needs to create another task (assuming an instance already exists), it'll create the task...and also make the previous vanish completely from there. That it! The previous IE window just vanishes into thin air! This may be a nice way of encouraging people to use tabs (a novelty in IE7), but isn't this too harsh on unsuspecting people?!!! In any case, some windows (like blogger comments) cannot be opened in tabs.

The other anomaly is that the characters simply don't appear on the screen as you type them in the Blogger Create Post text area! The cursor keeps moving forward, but the characters simply don't appear there! Publish them...and lo! There're there!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Overate during lunch. The meeting post-lunch cruelly wrestled me from slumberland.
Lesson Learnt: Skip lunch if you have a meeting to attend after that.
Thinkfree is a web-based Microsoft Office emulator.
Impressive enough.
The biggest problem with this site is its poor bandwidth...or maybe Slashdotting is to be blamed!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Prats to leave B'lore

Prateek's relentless efforts to escape form Bangalore have finally paid off. He leaves for Ranchi on Friday and will then head for Kolkata, his new work-city.

Prateek and I were hardly close during our days in BIT. In was misery in Bangalore that brought us together & in him I found a wonderful and precious friend. I only wish we could spend some more time together.

Best of luck, Prats! Please ensure Sittu isn't left insane!
So how does it feel missing out on Java?
Ask Apollo 13 astronauts how they felt when they missed the moon!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Got to stay one more day (today) at my usual place.

My lowly existence

  • I wash my clothes
  • I iron my clothes
  • I clean the utensils
  • I have started cooking
  • I sweep the floor somtimes
  • I had to sew a button last night

Do you see a pattern there?
The only thing missing is a menstrual cycle...no offence meant to the fairer sex!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Azureus

The original Bittorrent client failed to impress me & I had to switch allegiance to Azureus, a Java-based client that has won Sourceforge.net's Community Choice Award (2006) for "Best Overall" Category.

This client comes with its own share of problems. The interface looks amateurish & closely resembles that of the Eclipse IDE. Launching the client immediately throws up a series of error messages. Overlook them & the product works just fine.

The Bittorrent protocol, though, has not been too impressive. My biggest gripe is its slow speed.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Me cooked for dinner!

It must be years since I last cooked, discounting the instant noodles I would 'cook' on a few occasions. And I was feeling a tad guilty for never helping Santosh with his cooking. So I thought of doing something about it...and decided to try my favorite maharashtrian delicacy-Anda Bhurji!

Santosh was unaware of how to go about it...and I was there guiding him! I felt like an expert cook dictating terms to his minion-no offence meant! Among the many ingredients bought was a packet of butter. Believe it or not, Santosh had never tasted butter before!

Anyway, I did most of the work while Santosh did render some help, an offshoot of empathy resulting from seeing me toil over the burner!

The end-product did do great justice to the labour put in. We felt famished and dug in after the fatigue was over. Loved it! Reminded me of the few occasions I had prepared the same dish in Pune. When time wouldn't permit or when I would be on my way back after buying second-hand books from Lakdi bridge, I would invariably stop at one of the inexpensive roadside eateries near Deccan Theatre and order my favorite dish: Anda Bhurji! It was inexpensive and delicious!

Loved those days. It was nice partially recreating the magic of yore!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Imagine by John Lennon

Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people
living for today...

Imagine there's no countries,
It isnt hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
No religion too,
Imagine all the people
living life in peace...

You may say Im a dreamer,
but Im not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us,
And the world will live as one.

Imagine no possesions,
I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say Im a dreamer,
but Im not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us,
And the world will live as one.

The Endgame

I'm done with downloading all the classical numbers I wanted, well...almost. One composition I couldn't lay my hands on is Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Web Search engines were useless, I can only see bit & pieces of some movements. Gnutella based P2P networks serve up either nothing or different movements from different orchestras. Yuck!

I've resorted to using the Bittorrent protocol and the Torrentspy search engine to transfer the requisite files (120mb). I just hope I'm successful. Next in line would be Mozart's 39th Symphony and Beethoven's Violin Concerto. I've only got the first movement.

Change of heart

Microsoft will make its Express developer tools for beginners free permanently. That's something that'll encourage novices to choose the .Net platform over Java.

I believe Microsoft has thought...and thought deep about the future of its development platform and where it stands vis-a-vis Java. Though I'm not much in the loop on this one, I believe .Net will gradually wrestle market share away from Sun's Java. The killer blow can be delivered when Microsoft decides to port its develpment platform to other Operating Systems.

I've come across corporates migrating from the Java to .Net platform, but none doing a reversal of this. If this is indication enough, I'm sure the Java commuinty has a lot to worry about. Java's inherent strenght lies in its being open and a de facto standard for web & enterprise development. Microsoft has traditionally been the biggest foe of anything open source, a vice that'll surely impede its communal development. And since the Net embraces a multiplicity of devices and operating systems, staying exclusively loyal to Windows may also hurt its longterm growth.

I guess Microsoft will eventually be forced to jettison some of its tried-and-tested business practices. The sooner it does, the better.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

In-house thieves

I had brought a handful of clips to be used while drying my clothes on the washing lines. Amazingly, I found them dwindling in number within a very short span of use. Since I'm pretty absent-minded, I initially attributed the disappearance to my having carelessly misplaced them. However, it soon dawned upon me that no matter how careless I was, I couldn't have misplaced them all! Yes, all my clips were gone in a few months.

I then bought a new set of clips to replace their lost-and-never-found predecessors. History was to repeat itself all too soon. Sure enough, they started disappearing as well, much to my dismay. But what happened today was a true stunner. I had used 4 clips to dry my clothes. Within 3 hours, all except 1 were stolen! Now just how cheap can people get? I thought thieves had a strict code-of-conduct! They couldn't stoop too low. How wrong I was!

And no, the thief/thieves in question aren't the professional or full-time kind. They're inmates of the building I have the misfortune of residing in. It's really frustrating when perfectly normal and non-deprived people take to stealing even such trivial things for petty gains...if at all they qualify for gains.

I remember V.S.Naipaul saying something to the effect of luggage being an endangered species in India. I would corroborate. I've seen how people travelling via train diligently fortify their luggage. You don't need to be afflicted with chronic paranoia to keep an ever vigilant watch over your possessions. You just need to be in India!

Download Download Download

It's Good Friday, and I must put it to good use!

Sittu helped us discover Flashget, a download manager. Unfortunately, it doesn't work with Firefox directly. I do my own bit of research and come across Flashgot, an extension that rides piggyback on Flashget and seamlessly docks it with Firefox.

I've spent the past few days downloading a lot of music from the Net, mostly classical. I do some more hunting and manage to unearth some of the most famous and spectacular compositions I had been looking for for years.

These are some of the greatest compositions I've downloaded:
I try burning them on a blank CD. 2 CD are ruined in the process and I guess Santosh's Computer's CD drive are at fault. Anyway, since the computers at our place are networked, I transfer the files to Mani's computer before burning yet another CD...this time successfully!

Santosh's mouse has begun acting cranky and often fails to function. I've lost count of the number of times the machine had to be rebooted. It's really frustrating.

Oops, almost forgot! The incidents of violence that succeeded Rajkumar's death have claimed the lives of more than half-a-dozen people. I'm sure even cockroaches have a more humane society!

(The above account spanned from Friday to Sunday)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Floored by Bangalorean Hospitality

(L to R: Prateek & me
Snapped by Sittu)

OK, the day began with me being uncertain about whether today was declared a holiday or not. Contacted control room, today's indeed a holiday!

The night before, Sittu & Prateek had intimated us about their desire to seek culinary refuge at our place the next day since all the hotels had downed their shutters and the poor souls had nowhere to go. Most welcome, I said.

Well, the shops were all closed today as well. I spent the day my usual way, surfing the net scouring for information. That was until our valued guests showed up in the evening. The rendezvous was long overdue. Santosh cooked for them, we surfed, clicked, bluetoothed, chatted, ridiculed Bangalore, exchanged tales and cracked jokes.

Lunch was pretty late (not for us, as we had had our fill at the usual time). I felt sorry for the famished folks 'coz they had to make do with only biscuits the previous night for dinner. Things had come to such a pass! Anyway, we spent some more quality moments until it was time for them to leave. It was pretty clear that they wouldn't find any hotel open tonight as well since all outlets were still closed. I suggested their having dinner with us, an offer they reluctantly and politely declined. I wasn't insistent since it would mean Santosh being overworked. I felt guilty...still do.

Conveyance was non-existent and they had to walk all the way back home, but not before stopping over at Vivek's place. Sittu borrowed my An Equal Music and I asked him to finish it up ASAP. Here's a secret: I'm very uncomfortable with lending my books. It's like asking your enemy to sleep with your beloved wife! Pretty often, you never get your wife back!! Anyway, I can trust Sittu with the book (& only the book). Sure enough, Prattek & Sittu had to survive once again on biscuits for dinner.

This isn't how life is supposed to be lived! Do we really have a choice? Guess what, Bangalore is one of India's most privileged cities!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Policy Change

Why do people blog? Some do it out of curiosity, some do it to touch upon a social or other issue, some do it for the heck of it. Blogs are almost always thematic. I blog to chronicle my life, something that has often stopped me from publishing issues that would have been a lot more alluring to others. Tempting though it may have been (& I have sometimes fallen for it), it would have a deviation from what my blog was originally meant to serve (golden memories).

Since I've never assumed anonymity, I've had to be careful with my posts. What makes the situation so tricky is that there's no calibration to help us tread the safe line. Being very liberal, I've often blogged on issues that have left many people with ruffled feathers. Being constantly forced to cut-to-size has finally left me feeling stifled. This is definitely not my way of writing.

So I've finally chosen the middle path. I'll posts potentially inflammatory accounts, but...they'll not be made public immediately. I'll grant the issues a cooling-period of 20 years. Only then will they be made public. Rest assured they'll be highly sensational, but you'll be made to slog to hunt for them through the archives!

So how many of my already published posts would qualify for a sensation? None! My deepest secrets were never published. There's a sense of betrayal in not being true to my soul. Thus the change of policy! Let me live life a little dangerously.

So stay tuned...for at least 20 years if u wanna understand the enigma that's me!!!!!
I'm assuming I'll survive that long!
RADIO.BLOG.CLUB is on-demand music @ its best! I discovered it 2 days ago. I'm totally addicted to it by now! I'm listening to It's A Beautiful Life by Ace of Base.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Happy Birthday...

...to the sweetest lady I've ever come across!

Opera

I hate opera. However, I couldn't help listening to a Verdi opera by Pavarotti today using my headphones @ work. I guess the volume was a bit too loud...'coz when I removed them and swiveled, I found some people staring at me with supressed smiles.
They couldn't contain themselves anymore and burst out laughing!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Yahoo! News Message Boards

My posts are strewn all across the Net. One place I frequent to exchange ideas on current issues is the Yahoo! News Message Boards.

Today's article on recruitment agencies in India Indian headhunters use "speed dating" to meet job demand stirred a hornet's nest. I was surprised to see so much hatred directed @ Indians. The following was my reply. It got the 3rd highest number of recommendations (till now)!

I always admired the US as a nation of clairvoyant ppl. Seems this forum is infested with exceptions! Never ever have I heard of the ludicrously figmented idea of India using Canadian technology for its nukes! By that logic, Indians are guilty of breathing too...since they never discovered air! And about computers, well, we didn't invent them...but we indeed invented the concept of zero long before the binary system was used. What makes the US exemplary is its assimilation of the best that the world has to offer...something that warrants an open mind and a liberal mindset. Protectionism can't take you far...it never can. Look at the communists, they were so protectionist. What happened finally? They screwed their economies! I work in an MNC in Bangalore, India. We have had out own share of socialist fools, especially in the state of West Bengal. I remember them vociferously opposing the use of computers under the pretext of protecting people from job losses. But after years of foolhardy existence, they have finally woken up to reality. The same fools are now trying hard to woo IT companies into setting shop there instead of Karnataka (Bangalore's state) or Andhra Pradesh. You think US companies are foolish trying to come to India? You believe they aren't aware of economic issues? If they were that ignorant, they would never be where they are today. Let economic issues be decided by those who understand macroeconomics best. Let the fervent & emotional fools keep their mouth shut. It's the best they can do for their country.

Bought My First PC...(28th Feb)!

Call us backward, but India is no longer the neolithic civilization it used to be. One object of desire that has become ubiquitous here is the PC. Go to the 'average' Indian home and you'll find the PC being used. Go to the popular roadside eatery, and you may come across it. Go to rural India, and you'll find many a home proudly flaunting the many utilities of the PC.
I had been contemplating joining the bandwagon for quiet some time now, especially after coming to Bangalore. The PC is the ultimate luxury for the bachelor. Let him romance it...and he'll never ask for a wife! After going thru the usual motions of procrastination, I finally decided to buy my first PC. So I went to this place and bought myself what has become my very first PC. What a stunner! It has a small form-factor which almost qualifies it for my lap. It comes with a 5yr warranty, metallic finish, instructions manual...et al.

While I can't flirt with my it as much as I would like to, Santosh has full access to it throughout the day...that is, until I come back from work! Of course, I'm too tired to wrestle it from him, and so he generally retains full access.

I just love my PC!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Abhishek Gupta informs...

  • Dheeraj is married to a Kashmiri girl
  • Sumanta & co are in the US
  • Subroto is down with jaundice
  • Balraj is expecting deliverance!
Downloaded my first podcast feeds today. My first feed was an exposition of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony by BBC Radio 3.
Loved it!

I remember listening to this symphony years ago in Pune. It sounded absolutely entrancing sometimes. Generally, though, it didn't impress me much except for some passes.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Another Bomb

Had a chat with Arindam. Learnt that our dear old Mrigayanka is in IIT Guwahati! What's more, he even got married to a girl from Rajasthan! I guess he came across the unfortunate girl during his NID days!

Ours was a group of weirdos and even my radicalism would pale in comparison to theirs. Nice to know that all are achievers in their respective fields. Ritam is a high-flying and highly accomplished photographer. Dipanjan is in the US and is well on course to a life in R&D. Mrig...well, it was such a pleasant surprise to hear about him. I remember how he would write to me about seeking solace in Stravinsky's dissonance when he has to taste failure! I hope The Rite of Spring has given way to Swan Lake!

Well Done, Mrig!
Paid my LIC premiums online for the first time. It's such a convenience!

Friday, April 07, 2006

To Chennai

Satya is back in Bangalore after a long hiatus.
Santosh & gang will be off to Chennai today for an exam.
My own career is going nowhere & I'm getting despondent. I hope to continue with A Suitable Boy to retain sanity. I hate uncertainties.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Force Fed Democracy

Do we live in a binary world where everything is either all-good or all-bad? I think not! There are innumerable shades of grey in between. The problem with today's geo-political scenario is that the myriad shades of gray often present a very jarring set-up to peaceful co-existence.

There are 4 types of administrative mechanisms that drive national and trans-national politics: democratic, socialist, autocratic and religious.

Religious governance is most conspicuous in the middle-east, where Islamic code of conduct is applied on all and sundry. While some regimes impost strict interpretations of the Quran and simply refuse to inch forward in ensuring human values are being imposed, others are more moderate and tolerate some degree of liberty.

Socialism (closely associated with communism) is a failed institution. However, it's still a thriving dogma for the scant fanatics who still swear by it. Trying to seriously establish a utopian society where equality of the masses was ensured, it simply overlooked some common human traits...like individuality, competitive spirit and personal aspirations. This critical flaw was the downfall of this otherwise not-so-bad an institution. Communist regimes have created dictatorial monsters, widespread corruption, stifling of creativity and ingenuity, economic stagnation...and a lack of individual identity. Indeed, repression of the human desire is a common trait.

Autocracy in modern times has often been the offspring of communism, especially in modern times. The erstwhile Soviet Union, China, erstwhile Romania, Cuba and North Korea are all exemplifications of communism giving way to autocracy. And each bears the scars of human rights being grossly violated. Each bears testimonial to repression of the free will.

Democracy is by far the most fault-free institution of governance we've ever conceived for ourselves. Unfortunately, its principles are at odds with those of the others, resulting in a constant conflict of interests. The US has been an economic superpower primarily because its democratic fabric creates the right environs for the fledgling of individual and collective human creativity and ingenuity. While much of the rest of the world has been grappling under its own problems owing to flawed and archaic institutions of governance, the west has forged ahead refining and fine-tuning its democratic values.

Obviously, the disparity that springs from economic and political differences can be very insidious. Indeed, the west has often been a victim of its own success. The US is well aware of this, and has thus embarked on promulgating the virtues of democracy in nations that seem nowhere close to taking the initiative in embracing it. In its zealousness, it has often used alibis that have been very disruptive to regional strategies of the host nation. Sowing the seeds of democracy may be easy, but nurturing it and seeing to it that it's able to thrive on its own may be a different ballgame altogether. After all, when you have a civilization raised on principles that are alien to yours, it's difficult for them to appreciate your virtues. Paranoia is rampant.

The Bush administration has been on a hyperdrive trying to forcefully inject democratic values into archaic societies. The tribulations, not unexpectedly, have been innumerable. Bush bashing has become a popular pastime even in his home state. I personally believe the devil should be given his due. He may have come up with fanciful excuses for waging wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, but the idea behind inducing democratic values within until-now repressive regimes cannot be discounted.

Here's the problem: When you try to infuse values contrary to what an entire civilization has been fed upon, you'll be branded as an intruder trying to meddle in its internal affairs...an allegation not entirely without merit. However, the widening rift between human rights being secured and violated creates serious disparities, something that will be a serious hindrance to global progress. To make matters worse, there'll be wisecracks who'll know precisely why you often fail in your endeavor...and advocate the middle path. Embrace his suggestion, and someone else springs up who'll be even smarter, concoct his own postulate and come up with his home-grown middlepath. It's a vicious cycle. Such people only add nuisance value and should be overlooked.

Bush may have assumed a very confrontational stance, but I feel more secure being guardianed by his clairvoyance.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Living in the dark ages

A Reuters Report:

A textbook used at schools in the Indian state of Rajasthan compares housewives to donkeys, and suggests the animals make better companions as they complain less and are more loyal to their "masters," The Times of India reported Tuesday.

"A donkey is like a housewife ... In fact, the donkey is a shade better, for while the housewife may sometimes complain and walk off to her parents' home, you'll never catch the donkey being disloyal to his master," the newspaper reported, quoting a Hindi-language primer meant for 14-year-olds.

And we are supposed to be a liberal society! If academia is infested with this type of 'education', let's remain blissfully ignorant!

Illegal Immigrants in the US

What makes the US so unique is its social heterogeneity. Indeed, opening up to the rest of he world is the easiest way of assimilating the best the world has to offer. The US has been the most liberal in embracing the global culture, paving the way for other civilizations to follow suit.
But every political union has its downside. A non-porous border is one of them. While in a utopian world borders shouldn't exist, in the real world they should...at least as long as the global socio-political scene doesn't change dramatically.

illegal immigration is an issue that needs to be tackled with utmost care. It really doesn't make sense to embrace all and sundry with open arms, nor should the US spurn all advances.
It all boils down to policies that best suit the welfare of US citizens first and foremost. I'm sure there are enough policies that deal with this issue. If they need be fine-tuned, so be it; but let the illegal immigrants be deemed so...and sent back home. If America needs them, they can always be invited back...as respectful foreign workers.

IE7

IE 7 is very very sluggish. Even switching between the tabs produces a serious time-lag. When it comes to the looks department, IE 7 wins hands-down. However, there's more to a product than just looks, and this is where IE 7 falters. There's also a peculiar problem when blogging via Blogger: the typed letters just don't show up on the screen! Yet, when you publish and view the post, it's there!

Firefox appears a lot niftier but loses out on the looks front. If only it got a bigger push from the corporates!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Penthouse Problems

A penthouse may be a prized possession in cold countries, but in India it's a curse. I have been thus cursed and can't help fuming about it.

Mine is a penthouse, although the entrance opens to the verandah that curls around the room to the terrace. While I'm lucky enough not to have to spend siesta-time there (as I do most of the napping @ work!), the situation is dramatically altered on weekends. That's when the slanting rays of the rising-&-setting sun...and the direct days of the overhead sun conspire to heat the walls of our place beyond the tolerable limit. I'm left parched from the heat.

To make matters worse, water is a scant resource on weekends. I guess it's because of the heavy consumption of water for the washing of clothes. If I had forgotten to fill the bottles, I've had it. It's a mini-drought and I have to make do with whatever precious little I have at my disposal.

Not again!

I'm so disgusted that I've reverted to using IE! This can't be happening to me. My heart bleeds.