September 29, 2004

The Emblem

You may or may not notice it. I've just added a icon for the blog. It's way up in your address bar, and if you use Firefox, on your tab also. It's the Hacker's emblem, it was either this or the cool Yin-Yang icon over at this blog.

hacker emblem

If you don't recognize the image, don't worry. It's from an obscure little thing called the Game of Life, which isn't actually a game at all. I was as surprised as anyone when I actually recognized the emblem to be from it.

I don't even think that anyone who looks at this blog will recognize this, but it's still cool.

September 27, 2004

Finally.

Engineering is about writing. Nobody cares whether you actually learned anything, as long as your file is complete. And as this is the only thing expected of us, they overload us with it. The whole pointless crap gets to me sometimes, but I'm pretty much used to dealing with it.

Finally did some writing work today. Sat down for a long time & completed most of my assignments. Tomorrow, off to college to submit 'em, with Wednesday as a backup day for any remaining work. Then on it's the prelims next Monday to Saturday. And then finally I'll start studying for this Semester, during a month-long leave before the University exams somewhere from mid-November onwards.

I've ranted a lot about not having enough time, but actually my life right now if pretty free. All I do everyday is basically sit around. I can do anything I want, as soon as I finish some writing the "expected" assignments. And that is precisely what gets me; doing something that I have to do, but am not interested in, is the worst for me. Hell, I can't even do stuff I like while I'm procrastination the boring stuff.

But that's almost past now. Finally.

September 26, 2004

Encyclopedia Mythica

When looking up some mythological information in Wikipedia comes up short, I turn to Encyclopedia Mythica. It's an online encyclopedia for all things related to mythology, folklore, and religion. Kinda weak on Indian stuff, but great for European stuff. And the site is really well designed.

Found it while looking for some info about the Odyssey.

ROTK EE specs

Look at this and drool.

September 25, 2004

The Count of Monte Cristo

Saw the movie some last Friday [the 17th] and been wanting to write a review ever since. Don't have much time, so here's just a short pseudo-review.

I really want to read this book soon. It's been on my list for far too long. But I got a chance to see the movie first. It's really good, with a great cast [Jim Caviezel, Richard Harris, and a lot of other good actors that I don't recognize]. I really like the story, which I hear is different from the book. This books seems to be the inspiration for The Shawshank Redemption. A lot more unorganized thoughts moving around in my head right now, so all I can say is I better get a copy of the book soon.

September 22, 2004

GMail spooler

I've sent most of my remaining invites to the Gmail Spooler. Kept a couple, just in case someone I know needs them.

September 21, 2004

Linky stuff

First of all, check out some more weird Google stuff.

Wikipedia has a million articles now.

Bushwhacking, by the Almighty this time.

All right, here's the official FAQ on God. Sets things right.

Firefox 1.0 Preview Release [Firefox 0.10]

For those of you who use Firefox, there's reason to be a little excited. The final version 1.0 release date is drawing near. Those who can't wait [like me], should check out the Preview Release. There are several improvements. First of all, Find as you Type has been revamped, and now has a nifty toolbar. There's built in RSS support [Live Bookmarks]. Oh, and the software updates actually work this time around.

All right, there's no guarantee for stability in this version, but it works pretty well for me. The only problem for me was you need to reinstall your extensions. But still, it's all in all a pretty neat update.

September 19, 2004

The filler post

Uh... No posts till after Tuesday. Been to damn busy working on a presentation. And as I work, wonderful post ideas keep appearing in my head. Ideas for long posts. Posts that I can't write now. Ideas that I probably won't be able to write about later on... Too bad.

September 14, 2004

Springfield map

Just check this huge map of Sprinfield out if you are a fan of The Simpsons. Neat!

The latest

I've been busy the last few days. Finished my Java project. And I've been reading a lot, read Slaughterhouse-5 again. And I've been playing KoL for an hour or two for the last week. And listening to music a lot.

With all this, I've ignored my writing. Both here on the blog, and the assignments. This is a condition I know; before every exam I feel completely jaded about college work. I still have another project + presentation to complete. Haven't even started that yet.

I usually snap out of this phase after a week or so; I get up one morning and just start finishing the remaining work. Hope that comes soon, because I've got a shitload of work to complete.

September 11, 2004

Atlas Shrugged

Ayn Rand: "I trust that no one will tell me that men such as I write about don't exist. That this book has been written - and published - is my proof that they do."

Atlas Shrugged is a book about heroes. But it is different in the sense that the heroes present in this book are not the people you think of first, when thinking of heroes. It is a huge book, as big as LOTR. I think that the book was written for the sole purpose of explaining Objectivism, Ayn Rand's life philosophy. And you can't read this book without getting an understanding of what Objectivism is.

Disclaimer: This is going to be full of spoilers. [Keep reading]

Atlas Shrugged deals mainly with the mind; rational thought and it's importance in life. The "men of the mind" are the heroes on this book. They make the world go round. And we get to see what happens when they finally let go. In the beginning, it portrays them struggling, trying to live in a world that seems out to get them. Then you see them give up one by one, and disappear...

All right, the above paragraph sucked. Let's try a different approach. I love this book. And I knew I loved it after reading the following [about Dagny Taggart, one of the main characters in the book]:

"She could not descend to an existence where her brain would explode under the pressure of forcing itself not to outdistance incompetence. She could not function to the rule of: Pipe down - keep down - slow down - don't do your best, it's not wanted!"

I always get the feeling in engineering that my best in not wanted. Every assignment that I work on gets me less credit than the ones I copy. So, reading this was enough for me to like the book, even if it had nothing else.

I really like the characters of the book. The good guys, not the bad guys. They are self-confident, independent, smart and selfish. I agree with Rand, there's nothing wrong with being selfish. Every man should live for his own sake. I also believe that individual effort matters, that it can make a difference. Not enough to stick my neck out though.

The book is divided into three sections, Non-Contradiction, Either-Or and A Is A [I guess as tribute to Aristotle]. Throughout the first section, we keep hearing the question, "Who is John Galt?". Now this John Galt whom you get to know later on is an incredible character. He is the one who decides to stop the motor of the world, and does so. Read the book, and you'll understand.

There are only two things I don't like about this book. It's a showcase for Objectivism, so the characters are in Black & White. There is no middle ground according to Rand, you are either one of the producers, or one of the looters. There can be no compromises. Which is all good for a book, or for a philosophy for that matter. But real people like us can't live that way. We can try though.

And the other problem I have is the speeches. There is one particular instance where John Galt gives a 3 hour long speech, where Rand basically repeats all the points we have realised already through the book. It's overkill.

Apart from that, this is a great book. I can't explain much of it well, so instead read another quote:

"If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater the effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders - what would you tell him to do?"
"I...don't know. What... could he do? What would you tell him?"
"To shrug."

September 08, 2004

A nice brain teaser

I've read this or something like it before, but I suddenly remembered it today. Read carefully.

Everything following this sentence is true.
The above sentence is false.

These two sentence can leave you thinking for hours.

September 07, 2004

Some quotes

I can't come up with anything original right now, so read some quotes instead. Enjoyment guaranteed.

  • life, n.: A whim of several billion cells to be you for a while. [Unknown]
  • If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it's still a foolish thing. [Bertrand Russell]
  • There are things that are so serious that you can only joke about them [Heisenberg]
  • There are two kinds of fool. One says, "This is old, and therefore good." And one says, "This is new, and therefore better" [John Brunner]
  • Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. [Dale Carnegie]
  • Fourth Law of Thermodynamics: If the probability of success is not almost one, it is damn near zero. [David Ellis]
  • Well, isn't it comforting to know that being miserable is still better than being an idiot? [from Six Feet Under]

You can also read an earlier post with more good quotes.

I like to think that a good quote as a meme. From as little as I understand what a meme is, it seems to be an idea/thought/whatever that spreads through peoples minds like a virus. Hearing a meme makes you want to spread it further. And in today's world of blogs, memes spread really fast. I have often come across a link that I like, which I would never have reached myself. Of course, the study of memes is a whole science in itself, one that I found boring after a few minutes of trying to read. But still it's a fascinating concept. And I'm not making much sense, so I'll stop.

September 06, 2004

Productivity

I spent a lot of time yesterday coding my project. I actually got a lot of work done, the project is almost 70% finished. And I read a lot, finished half of the book. I had planned on writing a lot yesterday, had a few assignments to complete. Never got around to doing that though. Still, it was one of my most productive days for some time. Here's a screenshot:

I'm bunking college today. I just don't feel like going.

September 04, 2004

6 more invites

Google is just giving away these invites now. I've actually run out of people to invite. Which is kinda sad...

September 03, 2004

The Kingdom of Loathing

I've been a bit pre-occupied lately. First I have a project & an presentation to complete. The assignments are still not relenting. And on top of that, I've found the Kingdom of Loathing [KoL for short].

KoL is an online RPG, but it is an RPG with an difference. It's damn funny to play, some sarcastic remarks leave me laughing for hours. It's not based on graphics, it just has some nifty hand-drawn figures. Starting with the character classes [like Seal Clubber or Accordion Thief], everything about this game is witty in some way. I cannot describe it, but I recommend anyone who likes RPG's to give it a try.

It's a good thing that I only get to play a limited number of adventures every day, or I'd not get anything else done.

September 01, 2004

The Interpreter of Maladies

I finished reading Interpreter of Maladies today morning. It's an o.k. book, nothing I'd get excited over.

It's made up of 9 short stories, which are totally unrelated. The only common thing they have is that they each have some Indian characters, and the protagonist(s) of each story are going through some crisis. I really liked the first [A Temporary Matter] and last [The Third Continent] stories. The seven in the middle were not that good. Some stories did have a lot of promise, but it felt like the plot was left hanging at the end. But that's probably what Lahiri intended.

I've read few books by Indian authors. The last I read was The God of Small Things. I actually can't remember reading any other Indian books... But it seems that Indians writing in English write in a distinct style. And I'm not sure whether I like it.

In other news, I just got Atlas Shrugged from a friend. This is a large book, and should take a week for me to finish.

More invites

I got another 5 invites today. Now it seems that Google is virtually giving these invites away, and GMail should soon come out of beta. Or they have just upgraded their capacity, and will not give out more invites for some time.