Sunday, December 26, 2010

The 100th post of 2010

The number of posts has been on the decline steadily over the past few years. Things have now come to such a pass that I’m really stretching myself for the 100th post of the year.

I have been eagerly following people’s comments on India’s recently failed GSLV launch on CNN, Slashdot and Yahoo! News. I’m appalled at all the bilious posts and took the liberty of lashing out at some of them. I’m a tad ashamed at my cheap-talk but I’ll excuse myself this time.

TeaPartyImposter:
great light show.
for the good really.
possibly the only thing standing in the way of world nuclear
annihilation, and not, these days, is the fact that these third
world nuclear powers can't build rockets much better than
i can get out of a hobby kit..

Me:
An American hobby kit that helps ppl build rockets is very much possible...only that this 'kit' must be nothing more than a video game for the XBox. And the way the American economy is tanking, it's only but natural that these retards will prefer the delusional world of video games to reality.
Dream on with your kit!

____

Alpha:
indians are funny , even their atomic bomb was made by a non-indian
I don'tknow how people live in india , they really need to do something about cutting down on the population
it's better for brown indians to enjoy their cowpat!

Me:
I wonder how the Americans would have built the A-bomb without the contribution of a non-American named Einstein.
And from where did you learn that the Indian atomic bomb was made by a non-Indian? What's the name of this 'non-Indian?' It's a pity that even in the age of the Internet, some of you ignorant American fools have no idea what's happening in the world. I hope my American plumber isn't as foolish as you!

____

Jessie Geronimo:
It looks like India needs to outsource their Aerospace to the U.S.

Me:
No. But we definitely need to outsource dumb jokes to the US.

____

Running John:
I guess curry gets unstable at high tempertures.

Me:
I'm sure your brain is unstable at all temperatures!

____

TigerSF:
Can't India wait until New Year's Eve for a spectacular fireworks? Should be in the Guinness Book of records as the most expensive fireworks!

Me:
Most expensive fireworks...coming from India? Are you Americans so impoverished now? I pity you! Maybe I should order more pizzas tonight so that you folks don't sink any further.

____

Yanks Fan:
My science class got more rockets in the air than india. and that was 35 years ago.

Me:
Cool! Did your science class teach you about the absence of air in space?
And if getting rockets only in air is the target, you should visit India during the festival of lights, Diwali. India sends more 'rockets' in air than obese Americans have collectively farted in 35 years.
And I am sure your science class developed cryogenic technology more than 35 years ago as well...and kept it stored in household refrigerators.

____

Halen:
These INDIANS are cheaters in getting new technologies by hook and crook. They cheat all kind of western technology with a brand on it that says that it is made in India. They are hypocrites and don't trust them

Me:
Indians never cheated in procuring technology. We learn it the hard way, from the ground up. We are not a rogue nation like Pakistan, Iran or North Korea.
And I don't know how many of you commentators are actually into science/technology. Your technical prowess must be limited to making pizzas! Good for you!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Not the ideal Christmas fireworks

 The GSLV-F06 bursts into a ball of fire as it ascends into the sky in Sriharikota on Saturday. Photo: V. Ganesan

The launch of the cryogenic Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, GSLV-F06, from Sriharikota failed today.

The backup plan!

Blogger really gave me a scare some months ago (is it more than a year now?) when all the comments previous to a date simply disappeared. Since then, I’ve used Amazon’s web services and Wordpress to backup my posts, just in case.

I was pleasantly surprised yesterday to rediscover the lost comments. I especially loved reading these (ported to Wordpress). It’s been 5 years since we were so electrified on blogosphere. Time flies like crazy!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Guru!







Greatest Space Shuttle Videos

See it in full screen. It’s awesome!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dad’s 6th Death Anniversary

Remembering
Dad
today,
the
saddest
day
of
my
life.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A view from my apartment window

2 playful dogs making the most of the recent snowing in Montreal

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My first 2 audio books from Audible

A Suitable Boy (Dramatised) | [Vikram Seth]

War and Peace | [Leo Tolstoy]

I am over the moon, especially since I got the dramatized version of A Suitable Boy. Though it’s greatly abridged and no match for the original text, I’m not complaining.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My first blog post via my Kindle

The browser is atrocious, but I can hardly complain¡

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The best comparison video ever

I had come across this video from NYTimes a few months ago and unearthed it again today. The Gray Lady has a terrific sense of humor.

Placed my order!

At A Glance image

Amazon Kindle 3 3G+WiFi

Monday, November 15, 2010

Impressive!

I came across this article on Yahoo! and was instantly reminded of Santosh…who recently joined Akshaya Patra. Way to go, champ!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Andromeda paralyzed…perhaps permanently

What India and UK couldn’t do in 3 years, Canada has done in 2 months!

Our ceiling began to leak early this morning. And where would all the dripping drop? Right on my laptop!! And where exactly on my laptop? On the keyboard and touchpad!!!

Andromeda has been acting really weird ever since and I’ve had to restart several times since. On removing the battery, I discovered water had seeped right into the precious organs of my laptop. Current status: The touchpad buttons are completely dead and scrolling doesn’t work anymore.

And the liquid that leaked wasn’t just water. This sounds the death knell. I guess I’ll now have to make do with an external mouse until the final moment arrives for my beloved laptop. I’m preparing the obituary already.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

3 Countries, 4 Cities, 4 Phone Numbers!

I now have phone numbers local to:

  • London, UK
  • Montreal, Canada
  • Washington, USA
  • New York, USA

I can actually chain them all together!

One of these numbers is via Google Voice. It’s amazing what VoIP can do to you…like living without a phone bill. Yes, it’s possible!

Monday, October 18, 2010

To err is Bell

Bell has taken the liberty of renaming me to Deepsadjan. I’m deeply sad. Should I ring the panic bell since I can’t register for Bill Pay with my mangled name?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lousy customer billing

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Bell Canada should learn a thing or two about correctly billing its customers. We had to call customer support to rectify an inflated invoice.

Xpresspost–International (CANADA POST)

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I paid $53 to send some documents via Canada Post from Montreal, Canada to London, UK. The tracking history speaks volumes about how ‘quick’ Xpresspost has been. It took 4 days for my post to even leave Canada! The final delivery is still awaited, though it’s now under Royal Mail.

And I cribbed about India Post. I should have known better.

Friday, October 15, 2010

My phone without a phone

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I refuse to be sucked into expensive contracts. Indeed while telecom policies in India, and to a lesser extent UK, make it easier for people like me who loathe the phone, to maintain a not-very-expensive relationship with the damned gadget, I am truly appalled at how difficult it is to subscribe to a minimal rental plan in North America.

Getting into a contract is like selling your soul to the Devil. Breaking the contract incurs a huge financial expenditure. Pay-as-you-go is not a viable option either as you generally have to pay monthly $25-$30 anyway. You pay for incoming calls as well and phones here are almost always SIM-locked.

The only option left for someone on a shoestring budget is to go for a VoIP service provider who also lets you buy a local number. Localphone, a trusty VoIP provider since my London days, has been my savior in Montreal. I pay $3.80 per month for unlimited incoming calls. Voicemail is free and call forwarding inexpensive. Outgoing calls are also insanely cheap. There is a serious handicap, though. I can access my virtual ‘phone’ only in an Internet zone. Well, I can live with that for now. When the future demands more, I’ll probably go for a wifi phone with a VoIP client like Fring.

One thing is certain: I’m not signing any contract.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Commonwealth Games 2010 Open in New Delhi

I hear the opening ceremony was fabulous!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Someone sent me this never-before-seen photograph!

me and didi

PRICELESS DISCOVERY

I am seated on the scooter, extreme Right. Didi is standing in front of me. The lady behind me recognized me from a snap on Facebook and promptly sent me this priceless photo! Can’t thank her enough!

I went to sleep last night with a smile on my lips and tears in my eyes.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Returning to IE

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Internet Explorer 9 Beta almost has a nostalgic feel to it, except that Microsoft has stripped the heavily laden look of its browser to such an extreme that it’s hardly recognizable. The Spartan interface is heavily inspired by Google Chrome. The emphasis on screen-estate is unmistakable, though Chrome still beats IE9 to it.

I’ll try IE9 before reaching a verdict.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

In a dilemma

At A Glance imageWhich is worse: being spoilt for choice or having no choice?

I have been in a dilemma for some time regarding buying an ebook reader, the Amazon Kindle, to be more precise. But then, the exponentially dropping price eggs me each time to wait just a little more. Technological improvements have been another wait-maker, the crucial divide being of a certain chromatic character. You see, I love color thought I have a fetish for black.

Years ago, when Dad was about to buy our very first TV set, he gave us the choice between a 21” B&W TV and a 14” Color TV. The womenfolk ganged up against me and settled for B&W. It made no sense to me at all and I would have been up in arms had I had access to them. The loss of screen width could be compensated for by sitting closer to the set, I reasoned. Want it bigger? Sit nearer! Want it bigger still? Keep nearing the screen until the tip of your nose touches the screen and electrostatic sparks fly. Simple! Well, 1 is less than 2 and Dad knew his counting. We bought the B&W set and life lost its color for me.

History is repeating itself, if only in a certain warped way. Ebook readers are all the rage, yet they are woefully colorless. But the winds of change are blowing with fury. This article points to a future of colorful reading, if only tentatively. It’s only but natural for the transition to occur sooner or later, but what’s natural for the layman is often a serious technological hurdle for the scientist, as folks at Amazon and EInk would concur.

But why do I have such a heightened interest in the Kindle? Well, books in the West are often so excruciatingly expensive that I often have the urge to send all the publishers to the gallows. The Internet, may its bandwidth increase, has come to the rescue of the hapless reader. You’ll often find inexpensive and sometimes even free content off the web, a great alternative to the old-world publishers. Not only does the Kindle make reading more portable, its 3G version even allows free Internet access in 100+ countries, though the experimental browser is very crude and…colorless for now. It’s tempting to read some of my course material on the Kindle, but then it’s tempting even more to hold on and wait just a little longer for color to appear. My trusty Andromeda should suffice until then.

And who can forget iPad or the rumored Android-powered tablet? Damn, I’m spoilt again! 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Soul-stirring

File:Udaan Movie Poster.jpgA very memorable movie shot in Jamshedpur, Udaan captivates the audience with its riveting portrayal of the struggles of a young lad against the stern aspirations of a father.

The plot is not without pitfalls, but its overall fabric is well-woven. The fact that it was set in my hometown perhaps lends this flick some extra mileage for me.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Where I am currently putting up


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London Nostalgia

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It’s 7:29 pm in Montreal as I listen to a Schubert symphony on BBC.

I miss London real bad. UK was picture-perfect, literally flawless.

Montreal is a stark-contrast. Traffic rules are rampantly broken, I saw more beggars here in a week than I saw in UK in a year, great expanses of land are unkempt, some of the buildings are shockingly shabby and people generally lack the etiquettes I imagined all Westerners possessed.

In spite of all these flaws, Montreal has a rather quaint old-world charm to it.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Saturday, September 04, 2010

"You are mad"

People have been telling this to me all along. When I look back in retrospect and take stock of the mess, it all begins to make sense. Maybe there is some truth to my madness!!

Friday, September 03, 2010

The book that never was

I remember the ebullience in Dad’s voice as I called up at 5:00pm one Sunday evening and suggested translating our family-history book. It was in Bengali and I wanted a larger audience using Engish on the Internet. I hadn’t really figured out the nitty-gritty, but that could be conveniently left for later. I suggested enlisted didi’s help as she was good in both the languages. Dad’s failing eyesight would have failed to put up with this vigor, I assumed.

So it was all set. I would come home for vacation and our Bengali—>English translation project would ensue.

It didn’t really happen that way. Years of nursing for someone had taken its toll on his already ailing heart. Well, cardiac ailments are generally hereditary and Dad couldn’t defy the tradition. By the time I was home, he was gone…but not before buying a notebook for our project.

The notebook was probably pressed into less glorifying use soon after. But the urge to complete the project burns within me. Maybe someday…before I follow a certain family tradition!

Where I’m currently putting up


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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Writing Full Steam

It seems I can still stir some emotions while writing...scant though it has been of late. Out of 150 comments till date to a news article on Yahoo! News, mine received the maximum Thumbs Up!

I'm raring to go. It'll happen real soon now!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My Kubuntu 10.04 Desktop!


Pirates of Silicon Valley

File:Movieposterposv.jpg

I generally hate history, but not when it comes to computers. I’ve been especially keen about operating systems and how they’ve shaped the high-tech industry.

For those with little or no knowledge about the antagonistic relationships shared between IBM, Microsoft and Apple, this movie is a must-watch. Though the IBM part of the picture has been considerably dwarfed to accentuate the other two, it in no way belittles the importance of Big Blue.

Well, I’ve never really liked the philosophy behind Apple, though it help us explore the possibility of seeing how tightly coupling hardware with software works. As it turns out, it works rather well. But I have a feeling that after a certain point, market dynamics no longer depend on technical brilliance, often it’s mass hysteria that sees you through the next chapter. This explains Apple’s cult following, its artistry in product innovation being fueled by the premium Apple charges on its products.

Here’s the irony to it all: I watched the movie on a Windows 7 machine connected to an iPod hosting it! To make things more interesting, I was downloading Kubuntu since GNOME gives me a bout of depression each time I load Linux!!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

World Travel Adaptor

World Travel Adaptor (More Than 150 Countries)

My World Travel Adaptor arrives.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

OS OS OS!

I fell in love with computers solely because of operating systems. To me, operating systems are the only reasons why computers ought to exist! DOS, in those early days, was exquisitely simple and simply exquisite. The OS was actually tiny enough to fit into a floppy disk…unimaginable by today’s standards,

imageYears later, when Andromeda was ushered into my life, operating systems had changed dimension altogether. So bloated was Windows Vista that I never dared to share hard-disk space with any other OS. Of course, the operating system had become a lot prettier, what with fancy things like a Desktop and a Control Panel. Still, my passion was on the wane.

All this lasted 3 years. That’s when I stumbled across something on the OCW from MIT and though of giving the native tongue of C a spin for a change. One thing let to another and I finally mustered the courage a seat the up-and-coming Ubuntu 10.04 on Andromeda. That’s when all hell broke loose, not because the OS was at fault but because I soon got addicted to resizing partition tables, installing GRUB and corrupting the disk in the process!! Ah, this was familiar territory, at least the chaos!!!

ScreenshotBelieve it or not, I have been on such a potent overdrive configuring and reconfiguring my system that I must have installed operating systems on Andromeda at least 10 times in as many days. Along the way, I even jettisoned Windows Vista for Windows 7.

What’s my take on Linux? It may be a good OS for servers, but it’s still got a long way to go (if at all it goes anywhere) before it can be taken seriously. Fine, Google and Amazon do run on Linux, but the Linux market still remains overwhelmingly minuscule compared to Windows. GNOME and KDE are atrocious desktop environments, device support is poor, applications are virtually non-existent, too many distros kill any chance of a semblance of uniformity and a lack of corporate push is the final nail on the Linux coffin. The IDC report confirms the poor sales figures for Linux servers.

Still, Linux is not entirely worthless. It’s of great academic interest, 91% of the fastest supercomputers run on it, embedded systems make good of it and its manifestations in the form of Android OS and Chrome OS bodes well for its future. To be honest, I actually feel sorry for it but see hope in Google backing its development in a big way.

I’m hoping to get to know the open-source OS a little better in the months and years to come.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Meeting Gurdas

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Never would it have occurred in my wildest dreams that a pal I had last met years ago during our ICSE would be meeting me in London one fine evening!

Gurdas and I were in the same class from KG to 10…though never in the same section. The only time we shared classrooms was during computer science classes in 9th and 10th. He was mysteriously endowed with all imaginable programs in his floppy disks while the less fortunate folks like me had to made do with the demos that Gurdas and a few others would oblige us with. We sighed in awe, thanking the geeks for whatever we were allowed to see. Programs were circulated…but only amongst the privileged few.

Years later. Gurdas became a regular reader and outspoken critic of my blog and even called me up a couple of times. Needless to say, reconnecting with a childhood friend felt very special. It was to his credit that I decided to buy the relatively inexpensive DELL Vostro 1000 rather than the more high-end DELL Inspiron. I sent him an MP3 CD upon request, one that he supposedly still plays in the US.

Happy Birthday, Gurdas!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Reconnecting after 20+ years!

I was flying…well, almost! I rediscovered Anirvan Chakravarty on FB a few days ago and managed a brief chat today. The lucky chap flies for Kingfisher and has even gone international.

We have a lot of catching up to do.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mitcham Junction, Surrey


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I hop in and out of this station every weekday. It’s a picturesque setting.

Friday, May 07, 2010

2 days & 12 photo albums!

Each containing 14 snaps , that’s what arrived at our doorstep. And it was all for free!

It’s a tragedy that the freebie was too good to last any longer. Only US residents continue being lucky for now.

Happy Birthday, Tchaikovsky!

File:Porträt des Komponisten Pjotr I. Tschaikowski (1840-1893).jpg

The name most often uttered in our home from the world of western classical music after Beethoven and Mozart was Tchaikovsky. His compositions were supposed to be ‘very beautiful’ but I really had no inkling how that translated musically. Our AM radio wasn’t much help, atmospheric interference wreaked havoc on the short waves wafting through great distances.

I got a feel of the maestro from music cassettes, and I must confess I wasn’t impressed initially. Russian orchestras sounded remarkably different from their European counterparts. They were huge, noisy and pompous. Although Tchaikovsky was influenced heavily by European music, a fact that helped to pull him away from local tradition, he still sounded not much to my liking.

All that changed gradually. Swan Lake and Nutcracker sounded fantastically melodic, his piano concerto was one of the best ever composed by anyone and his violin concerto has also been considered outstanding in many circles. Yet musicologists dismissed his music for lacking complexity and never took him seriously. The king of melody craved for acceptance and recognition from the intelligentsia till the very end…but he met nothing but disappointment. His failed marriage on account of his homosexuality didn’t help matters either.

If Tchaikovsky could discover the resurgence of interest in his music and the accompanying elevation of his reverence after death, he would be glad. He would have been especially touched by Tolstoy, an ardent fan who cried on his passing away. Alas, it all happened a wee bit too late.

Thankfully, we still have his music and perhaps that’s how he continues to live amongst us, glad to be finally accepted.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The template changes!

Finally…my blog gets a long overdue facelift!!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

I understand now

Dad revered Armstrong. Though my taste strongly parallels his, I never really took a liking for Armstrong. To me Louis represented all that was too rustic and archaic in Jazz…barring a few outstanding exceptions.

Today I can finally see why Armstrong was Armstrong. The Great Summit | The Master Takes is the coming together of two of the greatest stalwarts of Jazz…and do they jell! This is one album that changed my long-held but flawed opinion of Armstrong.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

London Transport

London Transport either works like a clock or doesn’t work at all! A single misstep and the whole network falls out of gear!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

232

image My blog page hits hit a new high (this is a guess) on Wednesday, thanks to a new group I created on Facebook.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A devastating inferno

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It’s such a sorry sight. 24 lives have been lost so far when a 150-year old building on Park Street went up in flames yesterday. Music World, one of my favorite music stores in Kolkata was housed here.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Time for a change of template?

I love this template, but it’s time to don a new look.

Never before…

has my blog homepage been littered with so much crap. I’m currently suffering from an acute poverty of imagination.

Workaround!

Yes, I must finally agree with what someone had said years ago – I know many workarounds when technology plays nasty tricks. Wish I could delve a little deeper in my blog!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Extract from THE TIMES OF INDIA

Taking action against the player's for their poor performance on the Australian tour…

That’s Indian journalism for you!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Make The World Go Away – Jim Reeves

If there is one song I can’t live without, if there is one song that brings me both a tear and a smile, if there is one song that cries my heart out, if there is one last song I could play before I die, this is it.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Vanished!!

All comments to posts prior to 10/10/06 have disappeared!!! What the hell is Blogger.com doing with my stuff? The comments really were more interesting than my posts! There was so much of nostalgia in them.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

India: 63 dead, dozens injured in temple stampede (AP)

It seems our redundant gods have taken it upon themselves to reign in on India’s burgeoning population by systematically organizing stampedes at religious places!

India: 63 dead, dozens injured in temple stampede (AP)

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Happy Birthday!

It’s been 15 wonderful years to this day!

Friday, February 26, 2010

How Blogger.com Began

The accompanying TechCrunch article.

This is sheer nostalgia! I remember coming cross mentions of 2 websites in an Indian IT magazine bought by Sebastian when he was staying with us for a few days in Pune.

Yodlee.com was decidedly useful and I found its credentials impeccable. Over the years, this service invented by a bunch of Indians in the US has steadily acquired customers (though mostly through 3rd parties like Mint.com) and become the indisputable leader in financial account aggregation.

Blogger.com, however, sounded very interesting but rather useless. I couldn’t understand what the ‘archive’ was supposed to do, why one wouldn’t prefer the ‘conventional’ way of publishing to the ‘blogging’ way and what blogging was supposed to achieve anyway. To put it flatly…I didn’t quite get it. But I liked its very geeky publishing tool, sort of made me feel ultra important as I waited impatiently each time I clicked on Publish to post something even as trivial as a 1-liner. I stuck with it anyway, mostly to post impertinent webly thoughts. As my blog matured, however, I realized its potential and deleted most of my crap posts (except for the 1st post which was re-dated while editing…thus losing the maiden post date) and started all over again.

The anecdotal first post is rather interesting. I was desperately hoping that my long-lost friends would chance upon me during a web search. Using the blog would probably be the easiest way to advert, I reasoned. Search Engines would pick it up and soon I would be visible to them all. Well, search engines sniffed my page all right but I don’t think any of my pals I’ve reconnected through the web discovered me this way! But remember, these were the days the phenomenon of social networking was yet to take off. Flawed though the belief was that my friends would desperately seek me over the web, it led me to the wonderful world of blogging. Serendipity, that’s what I like to call it.

I use both Yodlee and Blogger to this day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hachiko: A Dog’s Story

File:Hachi poster.jpg

Based on a true story, this movie moved me to tears. Love is timeless.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Together!

DSC00427 (FILEminimizer)

Hama Star 63 & Galileoscope finally come together!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Our free wine glass finally arrives!

Our first free wine glass finally arrived yesterday. The wait was so long, I had actually given up hope. We'll probably use it for aromatic candles.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

This just arrived

Hama Star 63

My very first tripod arrived today and I’m all agog! Ever since I flew from India last year, the skies have been a bit of a disappointment. Gone are the crystal-clear tropical skies and welcome to a perennial shroud that has rendered my astronomical refractor vestigial. Still, I was nursing a hope that the clouds could be somehow wished away and then my Galileoscope would help me peer into the larger satellites of Jupiter or the magnificent rings of Saturn.

The arrival of my tripod now makes me fully equipped for a night of bliss! My calendar shows me the phases of the moon and weather forecast. My RSS reader tells what to expect in the night sky, Stellarium twins the sky on my computer, my iPod stocks Miles Davis and Liszt to accompany me in my heavenly solitude and my wife stuffs the wardrobe with clothes to keep me toasted in the English chill. I must be living a charmed life!

The Hama Star 63 is really tall, it’s actually taller than me when fully extended – vital when you’re using a refractor at awkward angles. In fact, the height-advantage might even make the star diagonal dispensable in some cases. I generally wouldn’t prefer using the diagonal because of its lateral inversion property.

It took me all of 20 minutes to fully understand the functionality of this tripod and test it with my wife’s Sony. It looks sturdy, feels reasonably lightweight and the movement offers no unpleasant jerks. I’ve read some reviews saying it isn’t really a heavy-duty stand, a claim I couldn’t possibly repudiate this early. However, I’m reasonably sure I won’t ever need to mount an elephant atop the tripod either. A few telescopes, some cameras, maybe a pair of binoculars someday and that’s about it.

Apart from the refractor, our camera is expected to take joy rides perched atop the Hama Star 63 too. In fact, this may well become its main line of duty, what with the constantly overcast skies. No more asking strangers to click me & my wife together. No more lone pics when we’re arm in arm.

Now if only I could vacuum the clouds above!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Replying to a Question

The Question

My Reply:
An organization protests Mother Teresa being honored with a US postal stamp and you hit back with a belligerent punchline. 'Protesting' and 'attacking' are the same thing to you? Even a mere dissident voice is construed as an attack on faith? Might I ask what's your Tolerance Quotient? Well, I have seen enough religious tolerance all over the world and was wondering just how well the atheists measure up against your camp's exemplary track record. If Hitler's anti-Semitism and Islamic fundamentalism are anything to go by, atheists have at least the right to voice their opinion and peacefully protest without outraging the likes of you. Wouldn't you agree?

By the way, I'm a very proud atheist from India.

Friday, February 05, 2010

My Blogger template is so convoluted…

...it doesn’t even respond to the template editor properly! The constant tinkering over the past several years has piled up so much of spaghetti code that I shudder to think of a new template. Starting from scratch is probably not even an option anymore.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

A case for Mr.Semicolon

This might be useful in keeping the semicolon from going extinct. Give it a try!

Internet Subsistence

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I remember the fateful day we had Internet access from home for the 1st time. The fact registered rather late since I was shaken by a rather nasty experience.
Accessing the Net from home in UK has proven to be a major challenge, strangely enough. Our staple source for now is the 3G network but I’m not much of a fan of 3, our eponymously christened wireless provider. We have a cap of 5GB per month…which is fair enough. What’s not so fair is the completely unreliable metering that comes with it. I just can’t imagine how sloppy can these people get in calibrating Internet usage. Is it really that much of a challenge?
A remedy to this weird problem is Networx, a free bandwidth monitoring and usage reporting tool. I’ve been using it for a few months now and the statistical feedback it provides is a godsend.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

It’s heartening…

…that according to this page, my blog is more popular than any one else’s from Jamshedpur! I hope I can resume posting full-length articles soon.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Some Photos…

…I had taken during my visit to Jamshedpur last year are now visible to all via Google Earth. You can see the snaps I uploaded here. The upload includes a few not clicked by me.

Subroto joins TATA Motors. Lucky chap!

Abhishek informs. It’ll make my annual visits to Jamshedpur that much more meaningful. I congratulated Subroto via SMS.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I want the iPad!

I know I want something when I see it. I never wanted an Apple desktop or laptop, I never wanted the iPhone, I wanted the iPod (& I got one) though I hated iTunes…and now I want the iPad. Desperately!

A device like this is what I had been longing for. It’s rather surprising that no tech giant had thought of something like this for so long. Yeah, the tablet PC has been around for some time but it’s more of a glorified laptop with a swiveling screen. I wanted something just large enough to watch movies and read books, just small enough to lug around with ease and just powerful enough to let me surf the web. It shouldn’t have a constantly whirling fan that annoys me immensely, it shouldn’t have a physical keyboard jutting out and keeping me half-an-arm’s length away from the screen and impeding any intimate relationship I might have otherwise had with it and, unlike my laptop, it shouldn’t take ages to restart. The iPad fits the bill perfectly.

The only flaw it currently has is the lack of support for Flash. Hopefully, this will change and Adobe will come up with something that makes embedded Flash videos a seamless experience.

How is this product going to change the landscape for eReaders like Amazon’s Kindle and Plastic Logic’s QUE proReader? Let’s wait and watch! Things just got interesting!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Blossom Fell

This is a masterpiece by Diana Krall dedicated to the Nat King Cole Trio. I heard the song by Cole years ago as a kid and I must say the Krall rendition is better. This is not to take away anything from the original though.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Weather Forecast On My Calendar

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I love stuffing my calendar with automated updates!

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Death Wish

Communists are politically atheistic but it’s hard to find leftists who’ll carry their ‘defiant belief’ all the way till death…and beyond.

Dad and I never admired Jyoti Basu though we did probably have a soft corner for him as he was a distant relative. In death, Mr.Basu has possibly done more good than he ever did while alive. He had forbade his kith and kin from cremating his body, instead pledging to donate it to science. His corneas were extracted yesterday and his mortal remains will be handed over to the anatomy department of a hospital today.

Bravo, Mr.Basu! I salute you!

What’s my death wish? Well, mine is also a donation…but of a more selfish nature. Here it is!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

All Wired Up!

I’m turning my blog into the nerve-center of all my Internet tinkering. I’ve been dabbling with the idea for a long time now and though I fervently believe blogs should retain a Spartan interface, adding non-obtrusive widgets shouldn’t really hurt.

scrobble The new kid on the block is my Last.fm Scrobble widget. It’s a great way of automatically letting the world know of what I’m currently listening to…mostly on my iPod. It’s a state-of-the-art technology that’s been snooping on my musical selections for quite some time and is now mature enough to reflect my true taste.

Why’s the clarinet such a neglected instrument?

Apart from Benny Goodman and Mozart to some extent, few have accorded the clarinet the respect it deserves. I heard part of the Aaron Copland clarinet concerto on the New York Times a few weeks ago and went on a desperate drive to hunt down the whole track online, but it was all in vain. The instrument needs a savior desperately.

And I can never understand why people still play the cello. There should be a harassment tax imposed on any musician who plays this wretched instrument!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sita Sings the Blues

Rama, Hanuman, Sita, rain

And she sings it well! Sita Sings the Blues is an outstandingly humorous rework on one of the world’s most banal epics – Ramayana. The take is very unique and juxtaposes various stylistic representations to rebuild the tale of love, war, chastity and the call of duty. The elucidations are thought-provoking but casual, the kind you would have in an extempore discussion. The anachronistic croons further add to your viewing pleasure.

Nina Paley knows she’s got a good thing going. A petition to ban the movie strongly vouches for it.

It’s released under Creative Commons and you’re free to download and distribute it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Twitting without Twitter

I’ve a hunch Twitter has become the resounding success it is today not just because it’s an overly simplistic application in a world that has somehow misled itself into needlessly complicating everything, but also because of the rich assortment of clients that make sending and receiving Tweets second nature.

Amongst the dedicated Twitter clients, Seesmic for Windows is my personal favorite. Unlike Twhirl and other Adobe-AIR-based clients, it isn’t a memory and processor guzzler. Native OS clients are the most efficient, no issues on that.

But what happens if you don’t want to download another dedicated client for a trivial task? You use your current arsenal of software tools, of course! I use two fantastic tools that have made life oh so easy for me: Ping.fm and FeedDemon.

Ping.fm is a software service that allows you to send tweets via conventional email or instant messaging. All you need is a specialized mail id (which you get when you register with the service) to which any mail sent is automatically converted into a tweet. Otherwise, you can add Ping.fm as a virtual contact on your instant messenger (like Yahoo! Messenger or GTalk) and send tweets merely by sending messages. It’s that easy. Since my mail client sits on the system tray all day long waiting to grab any mail that comes my way, I generally prefer twitting via email to instant messaging.

Receiving tweets is done best via an RSS reader like FeedDemon. Twitter is clever enough to grant you a password-protected RSS feed of all the tweets sent by the folks you follow. Since the feed is password-protected, however, you can’t directly use a web-based RSS reader like Google Reader. There are other ways to circumvent this limitation, though this might endanger your account. You could also subscribe to password-free feeds of individual users, although this could mean more work.

The only problem with this approach is that you lose the ability to send direct messages or delete previous tweets. What the heck, if you occasionally need such privileges, you can always log into good old Twitter, can’t you?!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Malcolm Laycock

Malcolm LaycockI’m saddened to learn of the death of Malcolm Laycock on 8th November, 2009. Laycock had replied to me in a mail in 2007. It brought back a flood of good old memories of listening to BBC’s Jazz for the Asking with Dad.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Beer glass for the teetotaler

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My ‘specially crafted’ free beer glass finally arrived today!

UK under a cold spell

Great Britain, as seen on Jan. 7, 2010 by the Terra Satellite. Credit: NASA

Friday, January 01, 2010

London Fireworks on New Year's Day 2010

We planned on going…but it fell through at the last moment.

We’ve discovered the enemy, and it’s us!

2009 is a year I refuse to minutely retrospect, largely because it wasn’t too kind to me. I hit new highs and new lows, the latter being more frequent. The irony of it all is that I hit a dizzying high as well, when I tied the knot with the most amazing woman I’ve ever come across. She’s been nothing short of inspirational, my pillar of strength when I needed it the most. She’s also made me explore alcoves I never even imagined existed. I’ve traversed paths I never thought I would and I’ve seen things I never thought I could. The ride thus far has been rather bumpy at times, but the journey has been one heck of an adventure! The sweet-sour memories make it all the more worthwhile.

The economy continues to be in tatters and the advent of good times has been excruciatingly procrastinated. Optimism has been put to the test but mine has been unflagging even in the face of incredible adversity. 2010, pecuniary-wise, isn’t expected to be any worse than 2009. There’s hope in that!

I’m not entirely bilious towards 2009. The one vital lesson I’ve learnt full well is that the enemy lies more within than without, that imaginary battlegrounds are more pernicious than the real ones and that we often paint a picture of the world gloomier than it really is. The real world is far too pretty, far too overwhelming and far too ephemeral to be wasted away in petty figments of the imagination.

The world around beckons me in 2010…and I’ll embrace it tight! Here’s wishing everyone a VERY PROSPEROUS 2010!