Wednesday, October 31, 2007

IMAP, Ahoy!

I used to be an email and search-engine fanatic during my initial days on the Net. 123india was my favorite destination for more than a year since I learnt (via a full-page newspaper coverage) that its mail service was POP3 compliant for free. Wow! That's a great way of organizing my mails through different mailboxes and consolidating them via a dedicated inbox, I realized. I created and heavily used 6 123india mailboxes! Worked like magic.

Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail languished somewhere in my volatile memory. I had already abandoned USA.net because of its horrid interface. Gmail was yet to be born!

Being the mailbox vagabond was an adventure I reveled in greatly.  I particularly remember Sebastian springing a nasty surprise at me when he set his mailbox to autoreply to my autoreply. The replies shuttled furiously to-and-fro because of a technical oversight from 123india (I got more than 30 messages containing my own autoresponse!!!) and I got the shock of my life when I checked my mailbox in the morning. Reading the mails, I quickly figured out what had happened. Sabu was upto his tricks yet again!

MailMeToday caught my fancy immediately upon launch since it was IMAP4 compliant. This was even better than POP3. However, I was suspicious of the India Today Group being able to pull it off successfully. Their Mail With Maal punchline sounded like a very cheap gimmick and I refused to take the bait. Sure enough, the site closed shop in September, 2002. My suspicion was vindicated.

Gmail IMAP-enabled my inbox today and I'm more than happy to finally test the exotic protocol on my mail client (Windows Live Mail BETA). It seems to be a bit cranky prima facie, probably because Gmail's radical web-interface (with message-threads and labels) has no strong client parallels.

It'll take me some time to get a proper feel of IMAP. I'll then assess if it was worthwhile for much of the tech-industry to have  dumped it in favor of the much simpler POP.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Prateek, you'll like this article. Don't forget the spawner.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Deepanjan Nag's Diary
is hereby rechristened!

Information for Astronomy buffs

White light contracts pupils for about half an hour and makes it tough to see anything in the dark.

If I were lucky enough to be a US citizen, I would possibly reside here, here or here.

Changing Taste

I remember buying a copy of Money Jungle during a summer vacation spent in our only getaway from Jamshedpur - Kolkata. Big mistake. I rued my decision as the album was way too intellectual and heavy on dissonance for my school-going self.

Times have changed and I'm being increasingly drawn into Jazz trios. It's a trend that's being paralleled even in Classical music. I was of the opinion that chamber music (excepting solos) should never include the piano since it simply doesn't fit in with the strings. I religiously avoided everything other than solos or concertos that had a role for the piano to play. Dad refuted my belief but I held on to my views obstinately. The only exception known to me was Schubert's Trout Quintet. Not surprisingly, though, the piano always was and still is my 2nd favorite instrument.

I was delighted each time I discovered an 'exception.' The exceptions have over time inflated to such an overwhelming repertoire that I reckon it safe to say that they are no longer exceptions but rules.

The Last Supper @ 16 Billion Pixels!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Voices of Freedom: A Celebration of VOA Jazz and Willis Conover

On Monday, September 17, the Voice of America (VOA) and the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival (DEJF) hosted a concert in memory of VOA jazz host Willis Conover and in observance of the 50th anniversary of Dizzy Gillespie's first State Department-sponsored trip.  Conover influenced a generation of musicians around the world, including Cuban-born jazz great Paquito D'Rivera.  At this concert, D'Rivera lead a quintet made up of another Cuban-born musician and three players from former Soviet Bloc countries -- Milcho Leviev on piano (Bulgaria), George Mraz on bass (Czech Republic), Valery Ponomarev on trumpet (Russia), and Horacio Hernandez on drums (Cuba).

Courtesy Voice of America. It was a tough job creating this video...especially since bandwidth in India is poor. The editing isn't perfect and there's a long lull at the end of the presentation.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wikipedia needs a donation

I'm contemplating being a little philanthropic.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Willis Conover tells his story


Video: Willis Conover
All credits go to the Voice of America. You can find high-resolution photos here. The Willis Conover page can be found here.

My First Movie via Windows Movie Maker

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I discovered a treasure trove of Willis Conover pictures and audio clips yesterday. I was so agog, I spent a sleepless night after that and sprang into action first thing this morning to get the pictures and audio together via Windows Movie Maker.

This is priceless stuff.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Willis Conover!!!

This is the most sacrosanct sound known to me! I grew up listening to it! The rediscovery is absolutely unbelievable!!!

COSMOS Complete!

The last episode to download took its own sweet time (blame the stolen bandwidth). What couldn't be done in the past one week was consummated in a matter of few hours today!

Now I don't feel so guilty of missing Mysore! A nagging pain remains though.

Hardy's Dishonesty

Robbing your country by evading paying taxes is such a fun-game, isn't it? Hardy's Restaurant exemplifies it well.

 

Though I'm not exactly a patron of Hardy's, I don't recall ever receiving a proper bill. All I get is piece of yellow chit with the bill amount written on it. I make it a point to ask for the bill, and the guy acquiesces. But what I noticed today was rather remarkable.

 

Hardy's has two sets of bills that look rather different from each other. I guess only one of them is genuine, the one quoted to make a nominal tax payment. The other one is meant for obstinate fools like yours truly, who ask for the bill. This way, Hardy's fools both GoI and customer. How convenient!

 

No matter how many rules and policies you have in place, it's hard to outsmart dishonesty. Ethics, it may seem, is going extinct.

Missing Mysore

My roommates (excluding Santosh) and the haze of people flocking around them round-the-clock left for Mysore this morning. Though I was invited, I had to reluctantly stay back.

 

Two reasons. Firstly, I badly wanted some solitude. Home is where the crowd is, and that's precisely the reason why I've begun loathing my present dwelling. Though I'm not exactly a misanthrope, being surrounded by buzz all the time isn't my idea of home. The getaway from the crowd, according to me, was more important than the Mysore getaway.

 

Secondly, I was in severe need of bandwidth. There's at least one fellow who revels in choking the bandwidth with BitTorrent downloads all the time without any concern for the other people who share the same network. So while we pay for 256kbps, listening to even a 24kbps stream has become impossible. Surfing is possible only if you have the patience of a Hindu spiritualist! I wish our friend could set curbs on downloading you-know-what or at least setting the upload and download ceiling. I guess that's too much of an ask though.

 

Though I miss Mysore, I'm enjoying some solitude and long lost bandwidth as I type this post. It's a worthy tradeoff!

Friday, October 19, 2007

NYTimes accepts my comment

I'm taken aback by the sharp and antagonistic reaction to Dr.James Watson's comments that have been projected by the media as nothing but racist. When taken out of context, it obviously looks so prima facie.

 

When scribes looking for something to goad on came across Dr.Watson's observations, it was just too good to let go. Fanning fervent notions of the intelligentsia, every Tom, Dick and Harry extracted his pound of flesh.

 

Here's my take on the NYTimes article:

It’s strange that the world is so ok with racial discrimination in practice, but will be up in arms when someone even speaks about the variance in innate intelligence of people belonging to different races. Even if statistical observations are overlooked (that show a remarkable skewness in favor of some races or people regarding intelligence), why can’t we at least try to assimilate what Dr.Watson has to say without raising a storm?


Equal treatment of all humans is paramount (commensurate to what is deserved), but does it entail overlooking natural relative deficiencies? If we raise the heckles to Dr.Watson’s innocuous observations, we’ll be unwittingly stunting our own ability to use scientific knowhow like nanotechnology for the betterment of all humans…all in the fanatic name of nominal universal equality.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The post that never happened

I'm tempted to write an account of my experience in a restaurant today. However, remembering well how I've time and again been chided for my ostensibly caustic disposition towards many things, I'll keep mum just this one time.

Malcolm Laycock (from BBC) replies!

I was in for a very pleasant surprise this morning when Malcolm Laycock personally replied to a mail I had posted to BBC 2. I remember listening to him on countless weekdays during my formative years. The memories are still so fresh. What made those occasions extra special was the presence of yet another Jazz enthusiast right next to me - Dad! We were in a trance-like state after Laycock's 30-minute program.

 

Here's the reply:

 

Deepanjan


Hi! Your message passed on to me by Radio 2.


Goodness me! I'm delighted to hear from someone who listened to my 
jazz shows all those years ago on BBC World Service!


Now, my memory is not brilliant because I've done so many different 
shows on many radio stations over the years, but I seem to think that 
the signature tune we used for "Jazz For The Asking" was "Birdland" 
by Weather Report. Great track......!


Anyway, I trust that life is treating you well.


With all good wishes


Malcolm Laycock
BBC Radio 2

Monday, October 15, 2007

The surest test of Artificial Intelligence

This is not about the Turing Test. You know AI has reached a milestone when it correctly deciphers the English spoken by an Italian!

The intimidation

I sent a group mail to our team so intimidating, even our TL patted me for driving home the message. Someone suggested I give up my IT job and write a book.

What's the most astonishing fact you've ever discovered as a kid?

For me, it must be that the stars are distant Suns.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Best Internet Radio Service

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My love for Yahoo! LAUNCHcast has remained undiminished in all these years of streaming music over the Net. There are various means of listening to it: web, Yahoo! Messenger and Yahoo! Music Jukebox.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A great password manager

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KeePass is  free, open source and extremely versatile. Though it was one of the first programs I had installed on Andromeda, I shook off my lethargy only today and took it for a test drive.

My only gripe: I shouldn't have wasted precious keystrokes all this while in repeatedly entering login information!!

 

Hey, I still can't get used to the fact that Andromeda is all mine!! I wield absolute power over her! WOW!!

The human repellent

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(Winamp running in Windowshade Mode)

 

I'm refining a powerful weapon to ward off the unwanted people who stray into my room.

The weapon: Winamp 5.5

The ammunition: Western Classical

 

I hate new faces showing up at my room without being invited. One way of dissuading their continued presence is to launch Winamp in the unobtrusive Windowshade mode. Winamp is seamlessly integrated with two fantastic Internet radio services: Shoutcast and AOL Radio with XM. I have a great affinity for Shoutcast.

 

I've especially developed a liking for SKY.FM and its many stations available at varying bitrates (24kbps being an obvious favorite). Try Mostly Classical to get a taste of its classical repertoire. I've long been a fan on this station but it's only now that I've begun using it as a formidable foe to the strangers. So far, so good.

 

I only fear someone actually developing a liking for my kind of music!

Burned a DVD for the first time!

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Source: My 2GB USB drive.

Content: Last 2 episodes of Carl Sagan's COSMOS.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

If silence speaks louder than words, ...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The best music player

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It must be Winamp 5.5.

I'm playing Duke Ellington's Take the 'A' Train. This was VOA Jazz Hour's theme song. The last time I heard it was perhaps with Dad, after Willis Conover's demise.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

When colleagues irk

You know the feeling. The jackass is a peer in the organization and you must deal with him. It's a problem when he doesn't know the ultra-basics of using Excel (like using a mouse to increase the height of a row). It's a looming disaster when he introduces himself as - Myself (some name). I wonder which desi farm grows such grammatically altered English!

It's a catastrophe when you need to take instructions from yet another jackass whose command over English is no stronger than Ahmadinejad's over Cantonese. And if his reflexes remind you of the 8086 in the age of Turions and Core 2 Duos, well, it's time to prepare for the afterlife!

I had this near-death experience today.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

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Andromeda & I face each other on Chess Titans. I love Microsoft!

Just waiting for November to kickstart my blogging frenzy!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sputnik 1

Photo

Sputnik 1 was launched exactly 50 years ago. As a child, I used to listen to Dad - spellbound - teaching didi about the Sputnik. For a while I thought all satellites were Sputniks. I learnt that it was a proper noun a little later.

How magical those sessions were when I would abscond from regular studies (uh) just to assimilate a little of Dad's wisdom. I'm still in awe of his intellect.

Monday, October 01, 2007

First Touch!

It's 3:30 in the morning as I type this message.

 

Sittu & Viv came last night to see Andromeda. This was the first time I've allowed anyone to touch my sweetheart!