Monday, June 30, 2008

Andromeda Unplugged

When you can type faster than you can think, stop blogging.

Frankly speaking, things are very dismal. I’m lost and I just don’t know if a revival is anywhere in sight. Career-wise, I’m a boat without a sail. I don’t know where I’m headed or if I should be headed anywhere at all. My daily routine has been shrink-wrapped into just that…a shrunk daily routine. I’m taking life too casually without a tad of bother.

There’ll be some quick changes. My non-productive hours (facilitated mostly by the browser) on Andromeda will be reduced drastically while the daily nonsense that goes into my blog will also be mostly curtailed. Of course, the usual humbug like how many bulls my stinking socks could stun, weather I could aim my p** into the ‘hole’ and spotting an old and short guy wearing something oversized as if in hopes of still growing to occupy the surplus space, will continue to make its way into my blog; but the free run has almost certainly come to an end for the rest of the year.

These are the baby-steps towards a personal reorganization.

Nilotpal calls it a day

It was his last day with us.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Satya & Suman Shift to Marathahalli

With them, the 4th TV to inhabit our dwelling (and inhibit peace) has also bid its farewell. The eerie calm needs getting used to in the days ahead.

I’m toning down on my blog posts yet again.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

HRD orders faculty quota, IIT directors livid

According to the Times of India

Buoyed by its success in pushing through a quota for OBC students in higher education, the government has now ordered IITs to introduce - with "immediate effect" - quotas in the teaching faculty for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and OBCs.

IIT directors, not surprisingly, were livid with the decision, though none of the four TOI spoke to were willing to go on record. The high quality of IIT faculty has built the institution into a globally respected brand. Said an IIT-Delhi professor: "It is hard to imagine that even teachers will now use the caste flag to get in."

The government diktat dated June 9, which has been sent to all the IITs, lays down 15% quota for SC, 7.5% for ST and 27% quota for OBCs in teaching positions.

Insiders feel that merit, on which brand IIT rests, would be shaken by the decision of the government.

The IIT directors TOI contacted, who were yet to convey the order to their faculty members, said they are shocked by the decision.

"Some of the finest people have given up top positions and fat cheques that were offered to them in other parts of the world to come and teach in the IITs, despite the low pay scale that the government offers. With reservation in faculty positions, I see a day, not far from now, when the IITs will crumble," said one director.

Another director said that there had been no bias against hiring backward category candidates to teaching positions if they were found meritorious. "Till now, if a backward category candidate was found on par with another candidate, the former was given preference, but reservation will change the atmosphere on campus," said the director.

All directors agreed that such reservations for faculty posts would mar the quality of education at the institutes.
The lecturer’s post in the IITs is a contractual one and the basic salary is Rs 10,000 per month. Usually, fresh PhD candidates are taken in at this level.

If their services are found satisfactory, they are promoted to assistant professor and get onto the permanent rolls of the IITs. But now, almost half the posts - 49.5% to be precise - will be reserved at both these levels.

It’s time to invite the British back to rule over us. It was a great tragedy that they gave up upon us and quit India in 1947. If only we could convince them to return.

Bill Gates' Best Bits

Goodbye, Bill!

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Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates joins CEO Steve Ballmer at a town hall event Friday, Gates' final day as a full-time Microsoft employee.

(Credit: Microsoft)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Feel it

I’m depressed.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Zoya & MBA

Zoya will start her international MBA program in September (after resigning from Accenture) from the Schulich School of Business, a very prestigious institute. She gets to spend the initial 8 and final 4 months in Toronto while the sandwiched 8 months will be in France.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

eBay vendor deceives

The case for my iPod arrived today, but the screen protector was missing. I’ve sent an email to the vendor. I don’t really expect anything but it’s a formality I must go through before I can send a negative feedback.

Committee for the Defense of the Semicolon

Ya, the French had briefly attempted to frame it!

The semicolon is alarmingly disappearing and it now looks like a needless and archaic punctuation. It almost seems like a relic, a burden, a needless speedbreaker that has managed to stick around somehow and whose upkeep is solely the responsibility of the fading pre-Internet generations.

How often have I used the semicolon in my blog? Rarely. The way I see it, the comma and semicolon act like a 2-tier speedchecker or segregator of ideas…a technically correct approach towards lucid communication. However, with the emphasis now being on shorter sentences that don’t really call for a sound knowledge of English grammar, the semicolon has been a conspicuous casualty.

I’ll do my bit in preserving the endangered semicolon.

;-)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Skype First Timer

Yahoo! voice chatting had become very frustrating and Gtalk was no better. The only alternative left was Skype and I decided to try it tonight.

The experience was a very fulfilling one. Thanks to AY for the suggestion. It was a pleasure talking unhindered to her in London and I hope she retains her clarity of thought while deciding what to do with her life. It’s a difficult choice but if she’s already come this far, she can easily go much further.

Solstice Moon Illusion

image

Play Audio courtesy NASA

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Worked Up!

Constant screwing and unscrewing last night by Mani did the trick. The desktop was finally aroused and after Mani was a spent force, Santosh eagerly stepped in. He was hard at work till late into the night and retired only after being satisfied.

Santosh went to sleep with a smile on his face.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Still Doesn’t Work

Santosh’s computer returned to our dwelling today, only to be scheduled for another trip to the service center tomorrow.

Mani is screwing it and Santosh watches in anticipation as I write this post.

;-)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Mr.Roving Eyes

RE finds me rather intriguing. His eyes follow me without any attempted stealth. Perfectly blissful mornings are sometimes punctured by the same dumb question, in answer to which I take the shortest possible verbal route.

Evenings distill passivity to its essence. The TV is blaring away and RE watches everything in mute spectacle for hours at a stretch that extend well beyond dinner. His favorite watch would be one of those fatally boring stand-up comedies or utterly distasteful dance competitions where parents show off their wards shaking wildly to popular Bollywood beats while small-time judges with above-average time to kill indulge in whimsical melodrama and outdo each other in praising participants to the skies.

RE scales new heights in interactivity when channel surfing. Sequential hops are probably no longer as challenging as they once were, but I’ve yet to witness the miracle of his directly accessing a channel via the remote. I guess this calls for a degree of adroitness beyond his reach for now.

Perhaps in a few years…

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Gosh!

I didn’t even realize how much of technology I’ve covered over the past few days.

ebay to placate Mozart

Remember the fateful day when Mozart was perturbed by the Big Bazaar trip yielding nothing? Well, I didn’t return home to lick my wounds. I ordered a case for my iPod from ebay and the lazy vendor has finally shipped it today.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

8 million downloads of FF3 in 24 hrs!

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As it turns out, my personal copy of FF3 couldn’t have possibly contributed to the count. The official counting began well after I had downloaded FF from the Asian mirror because of a snag caused to the main site due to unprecedented traffic. The contribution of mirrors to the count was dubious anyway.

However, once the main site was up, I did download another copy, this time for Mani’s desktop. The poor chap’s battered machine is running on organs donated from Santosh’s desktop, which itself is currently languishing at a service center.

Downloaded FF3 in my office workstation too. However, I’m not sure if this count would show up against India or US. While some IP locators correctly place us in India, others point to the US.

Here are some important download stats:

Country Downloads
US 2,600,000+
Germany 688,000+
Iran 260,000+
Brazil 187,000+
China 173,000+
Russia 108,000+
India 79,000+
Pakistan 5,000+
Iraq 299
Afghanistan 149
North Korea 0

Can you imagine Iran with more downloads than China? It’s highly unlikely. There’s something amiss.

Why bother? The campaign was a resounding success and I’m very happy with the way FF3 works. Opening tabs is a lot quicker than in IE7, download resumptions are supported and scrolling through Google Reader news items is effortless, unlike in IE7 where the task is mysteriously CPU intensive.

I’m loving it!

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My Contribution

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Firefox 3!

Download Day - English

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Mozilla aims to set a Guinness Record today for the most number of downloads in 24 hours, for Firefox 3. The main site is expectedly down (such is the rush of Firefox enthusiasts!) and I had to turn to an Asian mirror, although I’m not sure if this would count towards the record.

image Latest: The web server is up touting FF 3, but clicking on the link gets FF 2 for you!

Ah, it has changed to FF 3 as I type this post!

imageNow it’s completely down! What’s more, even the Asian http server doesn’t seem to serve download requests anymore!

 

image

Main site is up and running. This copy of FF3 will have definitely contributed to the record. I can now sleep in peace!

All’s well that ends well!

Replacement

The travel-tattered office bag I had been carrying for the past 3 years was finally replaced today. Here’s what it has in common with my DELL Vostro, Nokia N72 and Apple iPod: they’re all in black!

People are dispensable, electricity isn’t

It annoys me when people habitually waste electricity. You can correct an erring child, but what about grown ups? Even shock therapy couldn’t possibly be punitive enough.

Juicy

I guzzled 800ml of mango and orange juice in 4 installments today.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Album Art

imageI didn’t need another excuse to be a devotee of MediaMonkey but got one anyway. Album art always mystified me and I set about clearing the smoke today as I hunted for ways to embed them into the mp3 files on my iPod. All roads lead to the highly recommended MM.

MM uses album art from Amazon while other id3 tags can be populated via freeDB or MusicBrainz. This is fascinating stuff!

Question

I don’t wear my spectacles too often.

Does that make me ambispectacular?!

;)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

ID3

I fail to understand why mp3 players are so disdainful of folders. I used Windows Explorer to drag-and-drop a few music folders to my iPod. Worked as expected. However, when I searched for the files on my iPod, they were nowhere to be found.

As it turns out, you can’t import music files this way. You either need iTunes or a software crafted for the task. Luckily, MediaMonkey does the job with effortless ease. Importing done, I could find my files.

Here’s the problem I now face. I have a rather extensive archive by now and many of the files have incomplete, missing or flawed ID3 tags. Since the player finds files based on these tags, it often becomes very difficult to zero in on your choice. Keith Jarrett is all numbers and blanks to my iPod! You can imagine how harrowing a time I had ‘unearthing’ him.

imageManually feeding the tags would take ages. Some research done, I  learnt two ways of automating the task: freeDB and MusicBrainz, the latter being preferred. I experimented with Picard, a dedicated MusicBrainz client, and was very impressed.

I hope folders are supported in the near future.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

1st hand review of the iPod nano 3rd G

Form Factor: Excellent

It’s tiny, it’s sleek, it’s light, it’s irresistible.

 

Interface: Excellent

Apple is renowned for the ingenuity of its interfaces. I can now vouch for it. I can’t imagine a navigation that’s more intuitive than the one I’ve just witnessed. It’s perfect.

 

Audio Quality: Disappointing

I’m truly disappointed. How could the world go ga-ga over a product that compromises this heavily on audio quality? Am I being too much of a condescending critic? I don’t think so. My portable Sony mp3 CD player sounds far superior. I can’t forgive Apple for such contempt of the discerning listener. Wait, one doesn’t even need to be discerning to feel let down.

 

I don’t regret buying the iPod nano. After all, the ease of navigating through 87 hour of audio in a tiny gadget is too much to be outweighed by average fidelity. Let’s just say I’m lowering the aural bar.

Bit Bizarre Mozart

I though of taking Mozart out in the open, on the dangerous and loud roads of Bangalore. This wasn’t just a meaningless amble though.

The sacrosanct agenda: I wanted to buy a case for my iPod from Big Bazaar.

So while the prodigy diligently conducted a clarinet concerto, I marched ahead towards my destination, the bastion of the urban middle-class consumer. The earphones lacked noise cancellation buds, but this didn’t distract our composer one bit. However, the ambient noise wasn’t feeble enough to be overlooked and I found it very difficult to concentrate. The noise was muffled, but so was the music.

I reached the Bazaar ahead of its 10AM opening bell and Mozart was done by then. An eclectic army of jazz and country musicians was commissioned to keep me engrossed until the door to the mall opened.

What the salesman said wasn’t really music to my ears.  There was no case available for my iPod. Mozart must have been thoroughly disappointed. I wonder if he rued conducting the concerto for me.

I trudged my way back home, music still crooning into my ears. I didn’t dare Mozart.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Comm. & Logs.

It’s amazing how easy things have now become. I wanted an iPod desperately and scoured the web for a candidate player. Since I always believed that bigger is better, I initially settled for the iPod Classic 160GB. I changed my mind when I realized just how staggering was the capacity, especially when compared with the difficulty I had in augmenting my music archive. The 3G iPod nano was smaller, cheaper and solid-state. Though 8GB was a bit too modest for my liking, I had no alternative. The choice was made.

Amazon was my hunting ground. I wanted my nano in black as other colors were too feminine for my liking. It was also the only one with a non-white click wheel. I had already sent an SOS to our alumni mailing list asking for a possible candidate returning from the US to assist me in the logistics. Gurdas, a benevolent Surd, responded in the affirmative. A friend of his had agreed to rise to the occasion and form the missing link, as the economics of living close to the poverty line made an international shipment from Amazon unviable.

I used my credit card to make the payment. Amazon shipped it to the destination address (US) within 24 hours (or was it 48?). After the India landing, the player was sent to me via courier, the cost of which I reimbursed via Net banking.

It may all seem simple now, but the amount of contribution made by technology is staggering. Such sophistry would have been unattainable until only a few years ago.

Hats off to technology!

It’s Mine!

Image:IPod nano 3g black.jpg

iPod nano 8GB Black

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tilt

einstein

Einstein reacts when asked to smile on the occasion of his 72nd birthday on March 14, 1951.

Einstein’s brain was removed within 7 hours of his death, 4 years later.

Whether the brain was removed and preserved with his permission is a matter of dispute.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

6-4=2

Four of the six guests left early this morning, this time for good.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Adobe AIR

image

Adobe AIR generated a lot of buzz when it was launched recently. I gave it a test ride today by running AOL Top 100 Videos and Finetune.

AIR seems to be a cute platform with many applications just waiting to be written by developers.

Will the industry adopt it? That remains to be seen.

Give me 20 years

And I may write an online novel. It'll probably never be read in its entirety by anyone!

TTK…again

Submitted the courier Didi had sent. Arun, I was told by Ashwini, had left TTK. Back to square one!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Net Block

The web was freely accessible from office until only a few months ago. That's when the dreaded access blocking policies started falling into place. Now it's nearly impossible to surf the web without hitting a page that's been blocked for being in violation of Policy XX. Even my own domain is off limits!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Role Reversal

I was glad when Dad bought our first TV. Life would never be the same again and soon I was so addicted to the idiot box that living without it became unfathomable. While the family gathered for dinner each night at the round dining table, I would sit alone on the couch in the drawing room to watching TV simultaneously.

Pune and Ranchi realized the unfathomable as I didn't have a TV to visually feast upon daily. Life was live and real again. Bangalore was doing good until the good old TV rejoined us.

Things are starkly different this time around. I hardly have access to the remote control, the channels being viewed almost 24/7 hardly cater to my tastes and it's the others who are ardent viewers - I actively shun it.

One thing remains alike though: my solitude during dinner. While the folks gather around the TV during dinner (it would be torturous on me), I stay alone in my room focused on Andromeda. Ironical, isn't it? Though eating and surfing don't go along well, I manage. Streaming videos from Click Online and DD Live News run smoothly without any hiccups and keep me engrossed.

Thanks, Andromeda!

Erratum

I was misinformed by the ill-informed Santosh about the exit of our 6 guests. They're only on a jaunt to Mysore and will return tonight or early tomorrow morning.

Back 2 3

The guests left early this morning and we are now back to 3.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Khuda Ke Liye

9521046_det It's 3:40 in the morning and I've just finished watching the Pakistani movie, Khuda Ke Liye.

To put it subtly, it was awesome. The attention to detail has been near-impeccable and though some portrayals have been off-the-mark, there is hardly room for complaints.

South Asians are finally beginning to catch up with the rest of the world.

Friday, June 06, 2008

My probable first desktop (if it comes to India)

eeepc

ASUS Eee Box

Base specs include the just launched 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU, speedy 802.11n Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet networking, four USB ports and a multi-card reader. You then choose your choice of operating system (Windows XP or Linux), DDR memory (512MB to 2GB) and hard disk (80GB to 250GB.

Courtesy PCWorld

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Journalism gone to the dogs

You can learn to read. You can learn to write. But no amount of reading or writing can stifle innate idiocy. This is what I realized when I read the Op-Ed page of Deccan Herald yesterday, a Tier-2 newspaper whose pages, I now presume, must be filled with garbage.

It's amazing how easy it is for established fools to get their delusions and prejudiced ideas propagated across India. They could have a deleterious effect on the national psyche...which is decadent anyway.

Coming home from work has become dreadful

Where 3 dwelled, 6 additional have put up since last week. There isn't enough space to move around and air to breathe.

National Geographic should visit us for our infinite power of intake!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Experiment with a snapshot

This snapshot should change as the homepage is altered.

Changes won't be reflected live though.

Just for fun.

I'm picking a new hobby (or habit?)

My vocabulary, contrary to what some might think, is very limited. Since I use the web so often and since there is a lot to read, I often come across words that are very familiar but meaningless to me. Being lazy, I hardly use references like WordWeb and Answers, and even when I do, I seldom carry the meaning beyond the context since my memory is perpetually defunct.

Enter the ubiquitous Microsoft Excel. I hope to shake off my lethargy and use references to ferret semantics and record them in Excel.

Maybe 20 years will be enough to make the difference conspicuous.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Achievement of the day

Changed my vanilla Yahoo! IM status indicator. I hope it's not too flashy for the otherwise austere page.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

How come I'm listed here?

I'm surprised at some of the hyperlinks to my site.

Here's an example.

Going Mouseless

The mouse is becoming increasingly contemptuous of my commands and often remains nonchalant to clicks and motions. The cord now needs to be intricately meandered beneath the laptop before it can be satisfied with the grand scheme of things and goaded into service. One slight disruption of this careful arrangement and it's back to square one.

One of these days my mouse will be dead.

Guess I must start getting used to the touchpad, a device I've always found very cumbersome. Memorizing keyboard shortcuts is yet another challenge since the touchpad needs to work in tandem with it to make up for its shortcomings. My memory is so pathetic, the only ones I know are Ctrl-A, Ctrl-C, Ctrl-X and Ctrl-V.

Life is tough.