Saturday, June 30, 2007

Abhishek readies for Gurgaon

After a long struggle to wriggle out of Bangalore and into Gurgaon, Abhishek (Kumar) will finally have his way. 4th of July will be his last working day in silicon town. I'll miss him dearly.

Happy Independence Day!

Have you...?

Have you ever had so much of chocolate in a day that you have multiple burps?
Today was one of those days as I pampered myself to my heart's content!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Tunguska Revisted

I remember reading as a kid about the Tunguska explosion in Siberia in 1908. Peasants gave vivid and sometimes exaggerated descriptions of what they experienced. One folk said he and his cattle were hurled into the air, such was the intensity of the quake that was recorded the world over in seismographs.

I was watching an episode of Carl Sagan's COSMOS a few days ago that described the Tunguska event and the possible causes behind it. Scientists have, for years, contended that the culprit behind the heavenly explosion whose earthly impact caused widespread destruction could only be a meteor or a comet. What makes it all so baffling is that no debris has ever been found in spite of numerous expeditions to the hinterland of Tunguska.

The comet hypothesis found favor amongst a majority of scientists (including Carl Sagan) in recent years. Other people have come up with more colorful ideas (like a nuclear powered alien ship meeting with an accident), most of which have been widely ridiculed and rejected by the scientific community.

Whatever be the reason behind the explosion, the enigma just refuses to die. Coincidentally, I came across this article on Yahoo! News just after completing the COSMOS episode. Old memories of reading accounts of the event came flooding in.

This video is pertinent.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What if I die tomorrow?

  • This would be my last blog post.
  • I would have not accomplished many of my dreams (especially buying a reflecting telescope and a computer). But then again, the more dreams you realize...the more they proliferate.
  • Some people will continue thinking I'm better than I really am. Some people will continue thinking I'm worse than I really am.
  • Some will shed a tear or two for a few days. At least I hope they will! I'm sure Diya will miss me a lot. She's begun to grasp the meaning of death by now.
  • My priceless books would disintegrate.
  • My music archive would never be listened to.
  • My Yahoo account (and some lesser ones) would continue to linger for some time before closing.
  • I would have died a bachelor. Some lucky woman would have averted the biggest mistake of her life.
  • I would not have registered for the Cryonics Society.
  • I would not have said many things that I'll never say anyway.
  • Downloading COSMOS would remain incomplete.
  • My Nokia...I don't know what would happen to it.
  • I would have never owned a Labrador.
  • My end would have happened where it all began. I wouldn't be too proud of it.
  • Java, well, it was jinxed anyway.
  • I would cease to exist. No sweet ripple of existence or conscience (spirit) would exist.
  • I would not be able to say goodbye to the three women I fell in love with at various points in the life. I eventually fell out of love with the first two. It's the third that would really hurt.
  • Some who knew me would return to my blog.

I really wouldn't be too fond of dying tomorrow, the day after or ever after. I would just love to be immortal. I'm profoundly hoping nanotechnology and anti-oxidants can do wonders and catch up with me before time does. But the odds are heavily stacked against me.

When the end really comes, a prelude to it may not even be posted.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Manilal will be joining Cap Gemini soon. Congrats to him!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Being lazy has its advantages

I used to feel so lethargic taking dictations from the teacher as he/she droned on and on (especially after lunch), I would do a lot of on-the-fly editing to reduce the writing work. Being a slow writer also necessitated it. Call me pompous, but the lossless compression (!) would be flawless and generally better grammatically structured. The short cuts had actually become a habit later on and helped hone my writing skills.

Just remembered.
I had watched this movie previously in bits and pieces. I got to see it in its entirety only today. Loved it. Vasily Zaytsev's achievements in World War 2 were astounding.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Magnification: 30x : Brings objects 30 times closer

That's how Rediff merchandised a tiny telescope today. I always thought telescopes served to magnify distant objects. How does Rediff's miracle contraption bring objects 30 times closer? Do we finally have the answer to interstellar travel?!

Imagine bringing the Moon 30 times closer. Our burgeoning population would be the first one off the block to grab land out there. Soon the entire satellite would be ours to keep. We would only need to strap a homemade cryogenic engine to a low cost plane to realize our dreams. Or maybe we could forgo it and just hurl ourselves through a giant catapult!

Simple linguistic nuances are yet to be mastered by us.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Have people forgotten amplitude modulation?

I loathe FM. Not the technology per se but the way it is used. FM's greatest fault: people have forgotten AM. FM's other fault: programs aired over it hardly have any distinctive identity. Anyone with a certain way with words will make do for a host.

Speak crap, dangle the proverbial carrot in the form of free tickets or gift vouchers and people will surely fall for it. Occasionally get the brain dead audience revved up to air views on pressing issues and see their concerns shoot through the roof as each one tries to outdo the other in coming up with a brilliant solution...something the rest of mankind was oblivious to until now. The reward: 20 seconds of ephemeral fame as the world (limited to your city) suddenly discovers your brilliance.

And who can forget SMS? Send your requests to 4141 as long as you are requesting only for a recent hit that everyone has already heard at least a zillion times. No Keith Jarrett, Boots Randolph or Rosemary Clooney. No jazz, no bluegrass and certainly nothing Celtic. AM was so much better. It was so much fun surfing the waves from Radio Moscow or Radio Australia. And I needn't even mention BBC or VOA. Whatever happened to those days?

I'm sure a hypothetical Hell would have been perpetually tuned into one of our FM stations.

Atlantis & the International Space Station have eyes only for each other

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Undoing some damage

I've been busy today collating phone numbers of my contacts. Reconstructing the entire list may not be required, but some vital numbers may have been lost permanently. I need some leads...urgently.

I'll use Yahoo! Address Book as a backup from now on. But I feel synchronizing the numbers each time won't be a trivial task.

Manilal has tentatively got a new job. Santosh may be left to fend for himself in his old dwelling for the time being.

Monday, June 18, 2007

My Nokia is stolen

This was a sombre day for me as I lost my very first phone. I had decided to bunk office today and this to prove a costly mistake. I won't go into the details of how my Nokia 6681 was stolen since the blame would then fall squarely on the one and only suspect. Instead, I'll recount how the theft was discovered.

While surfing the Net in the morning, I came to know of the launch of YouTube Mobile. I was happy to learn that I would have one more experiment to do before terminating my Hutch Access subscription. I put my mobile on charge. A few things happened during this period that I won't delve into. I soon indulged in some TV and newspaper.

It was only late in the afternoon after lunch that I suddenly remembered trying YouTube on my phone. Alarm bells rang when I discovered it missing. I was thrown into a tizzy as Mantu and I frantically tried to locate my phone. Now I'm usually very clumsy with things, but I've been vary careful with my mobile all this while.

We tried to locate our phone with a missed call from Mantu's phone. No response. That's when I realized luck had finally caught up with me. Many of my friends in Bangalore have lost their phones a lot sooner and I had begun to wonder how long Lady Luck would favor me. Well, I got the answer today!

I blocked my SIM by reporting the incident to Hutch. Now though I hate using the phone, it had become an indispensable part of my life. Making do without it for even a few days is almost unimaginable. And since any possibility of recovering my 6681 was next to remote, I thought of buying a replacement phone in the evening.

I bought the Nokia N72 for Rs.10,850 from Big Bazaar after visiting two other outlets. The guys manning the counter had a tough time struggling through their long and tedious process of clearing the purchase. For convenience, they had to revert to the age-old and manual comfort of pen and paper. I wonder just how much of convenience lies in modern day amenities.

I also intended to buy a pouch (the original was stolen along with my 6681) and a Sandisk 1G memory card. While I did manage to procure the pouch, the memory card was not yet listed in the counter database (the list price was around Rs.1,5oo), and so was not bought. It's funny how organized retail works here. I felt like having cleared the customs after the mobile and pouch were successfully purchased. What relief!

(It's getting very late as I type this post. I'll add more content later. If I know you, may I please have you number?)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

All Or Nothing At All

There's a famous song by Sinatra with the same title.

But this is not about the song. It's about an idiosyncrasy of mine. I keep coming across these wonderful sources of news from all over the web. It's hard to let go of them and I end up subscribing to their feeds via my newsreader. Finally, I have so many sources, my reader is flooded with news items within minutes.

I feel I'm missing something if I don't go through all the articles. But even beginning to try doing so is futile since there is way too much to read. To add to my woes, sifting through the redundancies exhausts precious time. Yahoo! Pipes may offer a vestigial solution, but brings in its own set of problems. I don't like another insulating layer between me and the news source since it greatly delays news delivery. Also, the concept of pipes doesn't go along well with folders or tags.

Sometimes I feel Yahoo! News is more than enough for me. It is per se. But I fear missing quality articles from the likes of TIME and NYTimes. Back to square one! I'm a true news addict. Obsessive-compulsive disorder in the making?!

Supandi Incarnate

Remember Supandi, the country bumpkin and protagonist of one of Tinkle's funniest comic strips? With Santosh around, I didn't really miss him. Real life comedy hovers around him.

Manilal was in Koramangala this morning and decided to pay us a visit in the afternoon. Cracking jokes is almost customary when old pals meet after a long break, and obviously many of our discussions revolved around my former roommate, Santosh. Mantu and I couldn't stop laughing when the following incident came to light.

Poor Santosh, his computer was lying dormant for the past few weeks because the power unit had gone bust. A particularly nosy lizard that had gone where no lizard had gone before (Santosh's desktop's SMPS) was the culprit. Now you can't really train a lizard to avoid such hazardous places and Santosh was getting increasingly restless with his lifeless computer. So he trained his often-slipping focus on getting the machine resurrected.

He finally got the power unit replaced recently after a prolonged dormancy. Now Santosh is generally a constantly homesick guy. A convenient remedy he has discovered in the alien city of Bangalore lies in the rich assortment of Bhojpuri songs that occupy a substantial part of the hard disk. With the computer finally up and running, Santosh obviously thought of satiating his musically starved self by launching some Bhojpuri songs.

The mp3 player loaded and progressed along the notes...but, there was no sound. That was weird since everything looked just fine. That's when a horrible and excruciating discovery was made. The revived computer didn't have an audio system!! While the machine was lying dormant before the SMPS could be replaced, Santosh had kindly consented to donating his sub-woofer and speakers to us, to grace Mantu's laptop. All was forgotten in the ensuing frenzy of his repaired machine!

Poor fellow! I wonder how long will it take before he loses patience and wrestles the audio system back to his dwelling. And I also wonder how much of a culture shock can his speakers take. They are now used to crooning Beethoven's symphonies and Mozart's sonatas. Imagine reverting to Bhojpuri folk in one go!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Here's a fact: western classical enthusiasts prefer lossless audio compressions like APE and LAME to MP3.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sex and the Safari

A certain space shuttle in the heavens above was hooked up with the International Space Station, releasing life forms into its anatomy. On a more down-to-earth approach, I decided to switch my office shuttle from 33 to 19. I had been noticing 19 for a long time and the allure finally got the better of me today during the return trip.

The verdict isn't good. The 2-by-3 seating made things very cramped. The chairs didn't recline and the overall suspension was so bad, I had to change the font size on my Opera Mini from smallest to medium. It was only then that I was able to read a Digg article, in spite of the severe wobbles, on yesterday's launch of Safari 3 (Beta) for Windows.

I had tried downloading Safari on my office workstation earlier during the day. While this was successful, installing wasn't. All attempts failed. I tried downloading again and the trajectory was the same yet again. That's when I gave up. The Digg article made me realize I wasn't alone in my tribulation. Anyway, my one-evening stand with 19 was over by the time I stopped reading the article that was full of negative vibes from the user community about Safari.

Reaching home, I flung myself at Mantu's laptop and downloaded the browser. The installation was without hiccups this time. One thing about the Mac that I always hated was the atrociously fluorescent-blue scroll bar while the rest of the native applications had a metallic look. Thoroughly incongruent. It seemed as if the original scroll bar had gone missing and was replaced by a cheap plastic replica from an Indian hardware store. Why on earth can't they come up with a more austere color like gray or buff?

To make matters worse, the scroll is shaped like a capsule sliding through a tube. Did Apple think that the Mac would be used only to goof around? Click on a text area on a web page...and yes, it's once again surrounded by a blue halo! The integrated progress bar in the address bar is, needless to say, also blue. While this may be good keeping uniformity in mind, I guess I was beginning to see blue all around. The starkest, of course, was the scroll bar. It was as glowing-blue as our tubelight or the scroll on Mantu's recently procured mouse.

All this blue will surely make folks remember the impotence pill, Viagra. I'm sure people will agree that such a fanciful color doesn't necessarily render itself well on all pages. Perhaps only kids' and porn sites are apt for it. But wouldn't people be more attentive to a certain other 'scroll bar' when visiting porn sites? ;) Digg even has an article calling Safari The Ultimate Porn Browser, albeit the reasons are entirely different.

Though there are downloadable skins that help change the overall look (including the candy colors) of the browser, I prefer the simplicity of nativity. However, I may be forced to ask for some show of skin if the ubiquitous blue begins to turn me insane. I suspect it has already begun to happen.

Page renditions are nothing spectacular. Text appears a lot thicker than via my Firefox. Certain sites (like Yahoo! Mail Beta & Blogger) are rendered partially paralyzed, though I shouldn't really blame Safari or the sites per se. I'm not warned when I close my browser with multiple tabs, in spite of setting the Preferences to the contrary. But this is only a Beta, so I'll arrest a harsh judgment.

Overall, I'm not really happy at my first time experience with Safari. But this wasn't a one-night stand. I'll occasionally try to experiment with it to spice up my life. But for now (and possibly for the rest of my life), I'm happily married to Firefox.

I'll change my blog's blue background soon!

Atlantis from International Space Station

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Dilly Dallying

Now I'm considering HP as a possible alternative to Dell. The purchase will definitely happen next month. I may well have to contradict my previous posting!

Ding Dong Dell

Spoke to Mithu dada last night. We decided against getting a laptop for me from Canada (non-Dell). I'm not much in favor of buying my dream machine off-the-shelf and the conditions are such that getting a Dell delivered just in time for Mithu dada (given his busy schedule in the US) would be rather difficult.

I guess I'll have to get my customized Dell ordered in India.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Life In A... Metro

What a B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L movie! I'm being constantly and pleasantly surprised by Bollywood movies of late. I just hope such flicks become more mainstream and less offbeat as the Indian audience grows mature.

Unfortunately, our fetish for cosmetic-&-candy love stories still runs strong and will take years of undoing before we develop a taste for the nuances that cinema should portray.

Atlantis Lift Off!

It's the first space shuttle launch of 2007. This has been a tumultuous year for NASA so far.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Atlantis!

I'm watching NASA TV (live) in anticipation of this year's first space shuttle launch. Although the actual launch is hours away (an unearthly hour for India), the excitement is irrepressibly. They were showing the Apollo 10 mission until a few moments ago.

Optical Illusion

The two circles seem to rotate when the viewer's head is moving back and forth while looking at the black dot. Courtesy Wikipedia

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Cheeni Kum

It's exactly 1am as I write this post. I've just completed watching Cheeni Kum. Hats off to Bollywood!

Omnibus

I met a great snob today and I'm still shaken by the experience. I wonder if he realizes how much of latent repugnance he carries.

On a completely different note, while the weather in Bangalore is wonderfully salubrious, it's the traffic that ruins the fun. It's an absolute killer.

The TV is on (watched by Mantu) as I type this post. Aaj Tak has plummeted the quality of desi journalism beyond measure. The current news program? An astrologer is predicting how lucky/unlucky you'll get with respect to marriage, jobs and foreign trips!

Didi SMSed yesterday telling me about the May issue of Reader's Digest still not reaching her. I emailed the RD folks with the details. They got back to me this morning stating that a second copy was being dispatched since the first was possibly lost in transit. Thanks, RD-India, for being so prompt!

Suman visited us yesterday (brought to our humble abode by Mantu), carrying Santosh's audio equipment for the laptop. Thanks, guys.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Satya has got a new job.

Legroom

Our company bus has an uneven distribution of legroom. While the seats at the front are well spaced, the ones at the back are severely lacking in it. Wonder if the makers forgot to use a measuring tape!

While I was lucky enough to get one of the spacious seats today, it was the first of the rear seats that didn't recline (the ones that lack space also don't recline). Well, I was okay with that...until the gentleman seated in front of me decided to recline his seat to the maximum, good enough to almost make me suffocate.

While I've silently suffered like this on a few occasions previously, I refused to suffer anymore due to such inconsiderate people. Thankfully, the gentleman complied.

The morning ride was more torturous. A mobile phone was blaring away some FM at full volume throughout the half-an-hour trip. I was on the verge of having a headache, when mercifully, we reached our destination.

Yesterday's return trip was fun. I took 18 (my former bus) instead of the usual 33. Abhishek and I had a great time catching up with all the things that happened since the last time we were in the bus together (3.5 months back). Praveen was sandwiched between us. We used to keep blabbering all through the trips. I've fallen silent now.

Low caste in India wants to be lower

This is how AP summed up the recent Gujjar unrest:

For a week, angry throngs from one of India's lower castes blocked roads with burning barricades, stoned police and clashed with rival castes to make a single, simple point: They want to be even lower.

Does this happen anywhere else in the world? We are one of the world's oldest civilizations. In spite of our head start, we blew it. And the situation is only getting worse.

I heard this before

TARGET was my favorite magazine as a kid. Watching a subscription copy slide into the room from beneath the door remains an experience yet to be replicated. One of the facts I came across from reading it was about the possibility of an entire American city (I don't remember which one) being flooded by a tsunami-styled monumental wave if all the people in China jumped in unison.

While it's hard to ascertain for sure if this would really happen, it's surely fun to speculate. And speculations over such disruption caused by over-populous China have been many. One movie even depicted an obese kid coming up with the fantastic idea of throwing the earth out of its orbit by asking the Chinese to jump for his school project! Even Calvin couldn't measure up against this one!

Now, Scientific American finally puts the speculations to rest with a report on an experiment conducted to predict what would really happen. The result was an anti-climax for anarchy enthusiasts.

In continuation of the spirit of what-if, here's my question for the 21st century. What if all the people of India and China jumped together? I predict at least a flattened Manhattan!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

lifestyle

Two gift vouchers from lifestyle that I received almost a year back were about to expire in a week. Salvaging the price advantage had to be done soon and today was the big day when the much procrastinated job was finally executed.

I rode pillion with Mantu and after scouring through the endless rows and columns at the mall, zeroed in on two pairs of trousers and a shirt. The staggering prices made me wonder just how much of disparity simmers beneath our showcase-economy. Don't regulars who frequent such places ever feel guilty while there are a mind-boggling number of people who struggle day-in and day-out just to make ends meet?

Anyway, I'm happy about the apparels.
I'm gradually getting used to the touch pad!

Nokia PC Suite woes

I wonder where's the problem. Nokia PC Suite fails to connect my phone to the PC. Windows detects my 6681 when it's docked via the USB port. It's the suite, however, that fails to acknowledge its presence. This happens with old versions as well. Even Santosh's desktop had the same issue. Mysteriously, everything worked fine previously.

Without Bluetooth on the laptop, I'm unable to transfer the 100+ Pune photos or install critical Symbian applications.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Sangeeta Snoops

After Suchetana, it's Sangeeta's turn now to exploit the social networking phenomenon to catch up with me. I was tinkering with Mantu's laptop yesterday (it went online after a long struggle) when Yahoo! Mail alerted me of Orkut scraps by one Sangeeta.

Sangeeta? Some names should be banned and Sangeeta should certainly be one of them. One in every three Indian girls is burdened with this name. It's almost a common noun by now. Anyway, the great gift of photography came to my rescue as I recognized my cousin from her profile photo. We scrapped late night (or was it the wee hours) to exchange pleasantries and grab each other's chat ids before going offline.

Inclusion into the contact list was approved today morning and the consequential nonsensical chatting occurred in the afternoon and evening. I hope her comic cyber presence helps kill the boredom that hits me ever-so-often nowadays.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Rohit reached Sweden today.

Apollo 11 Moon Landing

A legacy comes to an end

I got my debit card last Saturday and my vintage-cum-vanilla ATM card was slated to be deactivated soon. This was a somewhat painful fallout of upgrading to a less antediluvian way of accessing my bank account. Today I decided to put my old ATM card to use just to see if it still worked. Anything could be expected. If the bank had deactivated it, I was expecting an apology message and the ATM spitting the card out.

Well, the card was deactivated. But instead of returning my card, it was retained by the heartless ATM with a curt message to contact my branch. This wasn't at all expected. Adding insult to injury was the fact that a peeping top waiting outside the ATM room was up to his task, witnessing the spectacle through a narrow strip of plain glass in a door that was otherwise stained to clog vision. How thoughtful! I felt dwarfed and humiliated as I walked out. I wonder what tales the onlooker must have spun.

The ATM card wasn't exactly my first. It entered the world many years back when I was in Pune, a substitute when I had misplaced the original card (my first card!) and contacted the bank with my plight. I discovered the 'lost' card sedimented deep inside a drawer cluttered with junk only a few days later. But it was deactivated by then and therefore deservingly of no use to me anymore. I had proved unworthy of it.

Anyway, I remained loyal to the replacement card for all these years and there was never an unpleasant incident owing to it. All that changed today when the end finally came. It was ugly. It didn't have to be this way. I just wish the ATM would return me my beloved card and let me enshrine it.