Sunday, December 30, 2007

More linklove

Good friend Kaustubh claims to have started blogging at Melancholic Ecstasy. which IIRC is a song by Indian Ocean. Just to get you to know you, he's introduced me to some great stuff by Agni - and is the recipient of the "unused guitar award which was lying at home anyway" for continued dedication to the pursuit of mostly music but also to math and open source.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

No buzz - but nice movie.

Just finished watching the Bee Movie. I accept that the main attraction was that we finally get to see more than a Saturday Night sketch, after Jerry Seinfeld hung up his boots. True, we don't do much seeing - but still he co-wrote it and voices Barry B. Benson, the main protagonist bee of the movie.

But the point of this post is to direct you to this article by noted entomologist, Natalie Angier "In Hollywood Hives, the Males Rule". It features some killer lines like

"bee flinging, like bee stinging, is a lethal affair."

"A successful male is a dead male."


"The drone is deemed a drain, and if he won’t die for love, he must die for its lack."

Do read.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

High 5 for Mood I!

I'll be leaving to participate in Mood Indigo, IITB's annual cultural fest in a few hours. This will be my fifth Mood Indigo - and unlike the first years that I'm carrying in tow (a la Hagrid?), I no longer have the excitement that I once did. In fact, were it not for the quizzes I would not have gone.

Shocking as it may seem - my objectives for this year are to sleep at a reasonable hour (by around 1 am perhaps?) and NOT eat the junk chinese at the hostel 3 canteen and get my throat all messed up.

Apart from that, all my moaning about "5 years and no Jagjit Singh" has borne fruit. The great man will be there this year, and though many of you might not be fans - I'm really looking forward to this. Also Shankar Mahadevan and troupe are performing. I hope they give us the kind of stuff that I like, and not the populist stuff that is famous. Here's my wishlist

1. Rind Posh Maal (Mission Kashmir)
2. Lakshya (Lakshya)
3. Taare Zameen Par (TPZ)
4. Kal Ho Na Ho (KHNH)
5. Aao Na (Kyun! Ho Gaya Na)
6. Koi Kahe / Jaane Kyun Log Pyaar Karte Hai(DCH)

Apart from that, as this guy is no longer at IITB, I wont have internet access or peaceful lab-solace when I need it. I will try and chronicle stuff this year - so watch out for that once I get back.

PS: I'm accepting suggestions for what team name we should use this time round. The best ones I could come up till now unfortunately are all puns on Modi and Mood-i.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Poor Joke for the day

Q. Why did the quarry workers not have bank accounts?
A. They were all miners.

More PJs here and here.

Note to self

No matter how much friends try to convince you, do not watch an Anees Bazmee movie at 8:30 am on Saturday morning. Ever!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Desperately Seeking

This book.: Comment saying you can lend it to me - and much kindness will come in your general direction.

Monday, December 17, 2007

P Diddy in Bloomingdale's?

That is the simile this reporter prefers for one Monsieur Barwick. You HAVE to read this rotflmao article about Capello's "unveiling".

Here are a few gems :

"He says that, when he meets up with the squad in a month's time, he will be able to speak English," relayed his assistant.

It seemed an extraordinary claim. Images came to mind of Capello wandering round his mansion in Lugano, a Linguaphone cassette-player dangling round his neck and a set of flash-cards in his back pocket.


And what about the arrival of his backroom team of four fellow Italians, who between them will be costing the FA an extra £1.4m a year?

Was this not the footballing equivalent of buying an extremely expensive gadget for Christmas, only to unwrap it and find that it won't work without four additional batteries (not supplied)?


And it ends, fortunately in hope

Capello might be overpaid. He might be as short of English as his new side are of world-class goalkeepers.

But if he controls his players like he controlled the wilful British media, he'll be in with a chance.

Read the whole article now!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Two Tech Tips

What is your homepage?

For many years, I've used the blank, going nowhere setting on my browser as my homepage. This was convenient - and really useful when you have dialup. Many people, prefer the Google Firefox homepage default, and thus give something back to the browser. But once the session gets going, everyone uses the in-built search bar - so not much money for Firefox to make there. Many people use Google Personalised Homepage. I personally did this for some time - my favourite gadgets? Gmail, Pune Weather, Orkut Birthday Reminders and Jay Leno quote of the day. iGoogle as it is known now, is much prettier - with weather-dependent themes and much innovation. It's very good if you have a nice, fast connection, i.e. say if your gmail loads in a second.

For most people in India, on broadband we're somewhere in the middle. So if you're looking to keep the "search engine" homepage option, but are bored of either or, then I have something exciting for you. Use Searchmash. It's my new homepage, and I'm loving it! It loads faster than Google, and has auto-cursor-to-text-box. Very nice indeed! Check it out. And if you thought, we finally have something to end GOOG domination, think again! This site is a Google experimentation pad - without any Google branding. So, the quality of results is as good as ever. Only with much better usability and UI.


Irritated by that Inbox(1032) message in Gmail?

I'm wondering why I did not think of this earlier. Due to a particular negligent phase of my using Gmail, I'd piled up a huge chunk of unread mails. What this meant, was that even though I had been reading all my mails regularly, my Inbox still said that I had 950 messages unread. Not that it made any difference. I have plenty of space remaining, but deleting all this stuff, just to get rid of that irritating sign seemed a bit excessive.

This is what I did.

Hit "select all messages". It will then ask you if you want to select all messages on that page, or all messages in general. Se you want to select all messages in general. Then, on the drop-down menu beside the delete button, you will find an option called "Mark as Read". Click it, confirm that you really want to do what you are doing - and you're set!

Mails remain, and unread messages zero. Yay!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

They are like this too

I enjoy reading Straight Dope sometimes. Today's mailer brought back recollections of an old quizzing chestnut about a cigarette tax or something.(Churchill was involved in some way I think) Shame is, I can't remember it! If someone could please refresh my memory in the comments that would be great.

Anyway - what reminded me of that question was this : How Come We never see Class B cigarettes. Any article that has the words "Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms" deserves special attention!

Finally, She purrs!

Yesterday night, I slept with the quiet joy of a man who know that his computer is going about its job of getting bits and bytes from people around the world so that when he wakes up the next day, it has a small present for him. Getting up, is an equally joyous experience - I act as if I really did not know, that my computer is going to present me with such bounteous gifts - and to some extent my surprise and admiration is genuine.

Now, this morning however was a rough patch in our relationship. I got up, as usual - and rushed to her hoping for another day of joyful gift-revelation. Imagine my surprise then, when I find a grumpy black face starting at me saying, "the computer has to shut off due to overheating" - or somesuch. This is the last straw I decide.

I knew it was going to come to this. She has been slowly increasing the intensity of what was a quiet whir, to a almost resounding growl. I somehow managed to sleep - and have been putting up with this obstreperous behaviour for almost a few months now. So - I decide, enough is enough!

I get up, and armed with my screwdriver and two pieces of rags I approach her. I yank open the side cover - and set about trying to figure out a way to get the heat sink off. After a little while, the heat sink is off - and I'm hacking away at her innards getting all that layer of dirt, slime and grease off it. Finally she's clean and good to go. Pleased at having done a good morning's work - I then put her back.

This is where the problem arrived. If you've ever tried putting back a heat sink without taking out the motherboard, it can be a bitch! Finally I manage somehow, but to no avail. Obviously it's not been done properly, and the system promptly shuts off in ohh.. about 3 seconds.

So finally, I take the last resort. Take her to the big daddy. I yank out all the wires - shove her in the car and bang her on the mechanic's desk. He's smiles at me as if saying - "you don't really know how to handle her, do ya?". He takes her apart, piece by piece and puts her back - lovingly. She obviously must've relented - because in about half-an hour she was all ready to go.

I was still mad. But when I put her back at my place, and plugged her in - she purred! Softly and silently as she did about a year back. And as I sit here typing this, and listening to her - there is no greater joy than a really silent computer!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Free as in free software

You guys must've heard about that famous quote by Richard Stallman

“Free software” is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of “free” as in “free speech”, not as in “free beer”.

So, someone thought, lets make this whole situation even more confusing by having beer that is free, free as in "free speech", not as in "free beer". Anyway, here is their website. You should start by reading their faq, to get a heads-up on things.

But the whole point of this post was to link to the interview these guys had with Stallman himself. I like it because it catches him totally off-guard, on a subject he;s seemingly ill at ease with, but eventually moving to the basic fundamental questions of "ideology". Here is the link, scroll down a bit, before you can see it.

Particularly interesting lines are,

"Open Source is a term used to co-opt our work; to separate our work from the ideals that motivated it. See, we developed software that users are free to run and share and change as they wish for the sake of freedom, because those freedoms, we believe, are essential. Then there were millions of people who appreciated the software and appreciated the chance to share and change it and found that it was very good software too. But they didn’t want to present this as an ethical issue, so they started using a different term,‘open source’, as a way to describe the same software without ever bringing it up as an ethical issue;"

"I’d rather not use the term ‘open source.’ I’m not a supporter of the ‘open source’ movement"

"Think of ‘open source’ and ‘free software’ as the name of two different political parties -"

Btw, here is the "source code".

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Notes from today

I was decidedly against watching Aaja Nach Le. But after reading Baradwaj Rangan say "Aaja Nachle is full of small, lovely moments about this world, about these people ..." I've become more malleable to the idea. More important is the fact that Taran Adarsh hates it saying (rotflmao here) "Sadly, AAJA NACHLE is below the mediocre mark and doesn’t meet the humungous(sic) expectations that you associate with the Yashraj - Madhuri combo." This one kind-of convinces me.


This one is tied to the above bit - saw "Dil to Pagal Hai" today (or most of it anyway). Was slacking off at home, with my feet hung up, quite literally due something about which you will read in the next bit. Anyway, I'm definitely a child of the mid-90s movie genre. This period starts with Baazigar, blooms with Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge - stays on with Dil to Pagal Hai and culminates (sort-of) with Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Now you must note that all these are the quintessential movies that will one day typify Shah Rukh Khan's acting career in a phase where he became extremely popular - somewhat like Amitabh's "Angry Young Man" phase, with movies like Deewar and Trishul. Sure, they'll do other stuff - but this forever will remain their "coming of age" so as to speak.

Anyway, "Yashraj-Madhuri" combo reminds me of Dil To Pagal Hai - a movie which I remember liking quite a bit. Thankfully, I've found tell-tale signs that there has been some transformation in my tastes (for good/bad, time will tell). I hated it - the "Dance of Envy" that I once idolized as "something bhari" was nothing more than a contorted attempt at mutual provocation, Shah Rukh Khan is positively obnoxious and the dialogue notoriously kitsch. Immensely eeww!


What I did today morning was take part in this. Happy to report that it was a major anti-climax, finished it within 30 mins, and actually walked back from Nehru Stadium to Deccan, to build up an appetite to ensure that we could execute our carefully built breakfast plans to their potential. In a way, that too was a major highlight of the morning - the Chiken Cutlet and the Baked Beans at Prem's Restaurant in Koregaon Park. Not bad at all!