March 28, 2005

Best lyrics format ever!

You should try this. Write the lyrics of one of your favourite songs as if it’s a list — preferably as if you’re preparing slides for a presentation.

Finally something good to come out of Livejournal…

Any ways, here are the lyrics to No Rain by Blind Melon

  • All I can say is
    • that my life is pretty plain
    • I like watchin’
      • the puddles gather rain
  • And all I can do is
    • just pour some tea for two
    • and speak my point of view
  • But
    • it’s not sane
    • It’s not sane
  • I just want
    • some one to say to me
      • I’ll always be there when you wake
  • You know I’d like to
    • keep my cheeks dry today
    • So stay with me
      • and I’ll have it made
  • And I don’t understand why
    • I sleep all day
    • And I start to complain
      • that there’s no rain
  • And all I can do is
    • read a book to stay awake
    • And it rips my life away
      • but it’s a great escape
        • escape…
        • escape…
        • escape…
  • All I can say is
    • that my life is pretty plain
  • You don’t like
    • my point of view
    • You think I’m insane
      • It’s not sane
      • It’s not sane

Time

I want to live at least till I’m a thousand years old. Come on Science, do something already. I swear, I’m feeling like hitting the next person who says that there is nothing to do, that they are bored (but I won’t). It will probably take me ten years just to do all the things that I want to do right now; not counting the things that I have to do as well.

So far I’ve managed to avoid turning into one of those high-tension freaks who keep achieving stuff without ever enjoying any of it. I have a lot of patience (at least when it comes to things I can’t control), and know I will never be able to do all the stuff I want. By the time I finish something, I’ll want to do something else — that’s just my nature. So I can hold off on what I want to do for the moment, and try to remember when I have the time.

There is an old meme floating around on blogs, a list of 200 things. You’re supposed to mark the stuff you’ve done, and also mark what you intend to do. I was going to finish that, when I realised that I’ve done almost nothing on that list, and most of the stuff was what I wanted to do. So I’m holding off till later.

Come to think of it, this patience thing of mine is probably something I developed recently — the only thing I seem to have learned from my engineering degree so far. I sure as hell haven’t learnt anything about computers that I don’t already know. Try this — sit a whole one hour lecture without doing anything at all. You can’t listen to what’s being said (at least if you are in my college). Actually, I’ve not done that so far, but will try it the next time I have a chance. Usually complete my assignments (or reading work) during lectures. Not enough time you see…

You say that this is opposite to what I started this post with — and it probably is. But well, college is something that I have to do.

Sometimes just to have fun, I try to act ‘Zen-like’ cool, and answer people with weird one-liners. Can’t keep the act going for more than a few minutes though — always end up laughing.

March 27, 2005

Equilibrium

Saw a nice film yesterday, Equilibrium. It was fun, but here’s what you need to know about the movie:

Nineteen Eighty-four + Gattaca + The Matrix + a few others I can’t place = Equilibrium
And it looks like what Ayn Rand’s version of the future would look like.

Its not fair to expect every movie to by completely original, and as the movie is good fun, I won’t complain. Actually after reading the current IMDb review of it, I don’t think I’ll need to add anything else. Too bad IMDb does not give permanent links to movie reviews…

March 24, 2005

Potpourri

Got too much on my mind now. Time to take a core-dump of my brain —

I think I don’t have a cell phone myself because almost everyone else has one. If people hated cell phones, I’d probably want one too.

It’s OK for things to be meaningless most of the time, but not OK for them to be pointless all the time (this one’s been around my head for some time).

Mountains feel positive (I know, it sounds stupid.)

My eyes hurt!!!

I hope anyone who reads this till complete post does not end up killing me.

I’ll keep whining about my assignments — on principle alone.

Pearl Jam rocks.

I’m going to buy a new hard disk come May. And an USB enclosure for the old one.

My PC’s getting disorganized… Must. keep. it. neat.

I’ve got 3 days to learn Java Servlets, JSP, Tomcat, et cetera. And have to finish a working model of my Internet Theory project by these 3 days. Java sucks. And draw the Use Case/UML diagrams for my other project — after I’ve completed it. Theoretical design also sucks.

Disappointment in oneself is the hardest thing to deal with.

I love my printer.

Birds are beautiful. Bats too.

People are generally always crazy to a certain extent. I should have studied anthropology.

Do I love math or do I hate math?

I’m gonna learn the violin.

I keep making excuses…

The Aviator

OK, I can’t believe that Martin Scorsese didn’t get the Oscar for this one. Can’t believe that Leonardo DiCaprio also lost. I’ll just have to watch the winners and see whether they compare to The Aviator.

Quite frankly, The Aviator is one of the best films I’ve ever seen. I didn’t know anything about Howard Hughes till I watched it, and now it feels like I actually know the person. Leonardo plays the role perfectly, its hauntingly disturbing to see him repeat ‘The way of the future’ over and over.

The acting’s flawless throughout the movie. The directing rocks. I feel for Martin Scorsese, and know why so many people were rooting for him at the Oscars this year. This is just a brilliant movie.

And it’s also too damn beautiful too look at times. The scene when Howard Hughes is shooting the airborne battle sequence comes to mind. Actually, any secene near an aircraft is brilliant.

With all the eye candy going around, what you will remember from the movie a few years later is the story of a man battling his inner demons — and losing.

Then there is the score by Howard Shore, nowhere near LotR, but great nonetheless. I can’t get that tune out of my head right now.

Anyone who’s not seen this needs to go out and catch the first show available.

OK — in a weird co-incidence, today’s episode of The Simpsons pays homage to Howard Hughes as well.

Fisher got out.

First, I’d recommend people to read up on Bobby Fischer. Bobby Fisher is a former world chess champion — and for many the best chess player ever. Fischer is one of those rare individuals who have a lot of natural talent, and with it a discipline to hone their talent to the very extreme. Anybody who’s like this is someone I respect.

He’s an eccentric — someone who goes against what is expected of him. Again more reason for me to respect him.

But then there is the other stuff…

After winning what was billed as the “Match of the Century” in 1972, he promptly disappeared. He lived for 20 years god knows where and how, but in 1992 he came out and challenged Spassky (his last opponent) to another game. This match took place in one of the Yugoslavian republics (don’t know how the location got chosen). OK, there were severe UN sanctions against that republic, and Fisher, an American, was warned not to go there. For playing the game, he was served a warrant of arrest, after which he promptly went AWOL.

The guy’s done a lot of crazy shit since, and so on. He was arrested last year in Japan and held due to the 1992 warrant against him. He’s now been granted Icelandic citizenship; is probably heading there as I write this.

Just Google for him and you’ll get a lot of interesting reading. I can’t quite make up my mind on how I feel about him. Will just keep following the news for now.

PS: I first heard of him while watching a great movie called Innocent Moves. Do check it out if you can.

March 22, 2005

Crap. This is so me…

Read some selected paragraphs just from the first chapter of Dostoyevsky’s Notes From The Underground

Also, I have no desire to be cured of my ill-humour. I suppose you cannot understand this? No, I thought not; but I can understand it, although it would puzzle me to tell you exactly whom I am vexed with. I only know that I do not choose to offend the doctors by telling them that I am unable to accept their treatment. Also, I know — better than any else who can — that I alone am my worst enemy, and that I am my own worst enemy far more than I am any one else’s. However, if I am not to be cured, so much the worse for me and my evil passions. If my liver is out of order, so much the worse for my liver.

Do you wish to know wherein the sting of my evil temper has always lain? It has always lain (and therein also has always lain its peculiar offensiveness) in the fact that, even in moments of my bitterest spleen, I have been forced to acknowledge with shame that not only am I not at all bad-tempered, but also I have never received any real cause of offense — that I have been roaring to frighten away sparrows, and amusing myself with doing so. Foam though I might at the mouth, I needed but to be given a doll to play with, or a cup of sweet tea to drink, and at once I sank to quiescence. Yes, I have always grown calm for the moment — even though, later, I have gnashed my teeth at myself, and suffered from months of insomnia. Such has invariably been my way.

By the way, what is it that most respectable men talk about most readily? Answer — about themselves. So I too will talk about myself.

March 19, 2005

Caffeine Caffeine

I love coffee too much to ever quit drinking. I love the smell, I love the taste, I love everything about it.

But as always, there is a price for everything. And loving coffee makes me addicted to caffeine. A big-sized mug of ‘filter’ coffee would probably give me anything from 75mg to 250mg of caffeine. With instant coffee, there is no knowing what happens. It is very likely that instant coffee makers artificially boost their caffeine content to get more drinkers, as I always get much more kick out instant coffee. OK, this is just a theory based on personal experience, not to be taken too seriously.

Caffeine, scientifically known as C8H10N4O2, is a stimulant. It affects your brain, your nervous system, your heart rate, your respiration, et cetera. Not dangerous in small quantities, but anything more than 10 grams of pure caffeine could lead to an overdose.

Here’s the kicker — as you can probably tell, caffeine is addictive. Consuming any significant amount of caffeine makes you feel good, heck it even increases your reaction times. You feel ‘fresh’. But if you drink it for any long duration, your body gets dependent. I can’t really feel good at mornings before I getting my coffee.

I really started drinking coffee 3-4 years back. A couple of years back I resolved not to drink any more than a single large mug every morning. Now I usually need small ‘shots’ of coffee during college. So maybe it’s just my college that’s screwing me…

And there are a lot of beneficial effects of Caffeine as well. Once you start reading, you’d never be able to tell right from wrong, there’s just too much conflicting material out there.

I just like getting the facts. Doesn’t mean I’m going to stop drinking coffee anytime soon, everything can be made out to be addictive if you think about it long enough. And I’m not even drinking a lot of coffee, two mugs per day is the maximum.

Starting points: Caffeine on Wikipedia, Coffee on Wikipediam Caffeine node on Everything2. Or just Google for Caffeine.

March 15, 2005

Just play…

Will: I’m trying to explain it to you. So you play the piano. When you look at the keys, you see music, you see Mozart.

Skylar: I see “Hot Cross Buns,” but okay.

Will: Well all right, Beethoven. He looked at a piano and saw music. The fuckin’ guy was deaf when he composed the Ode to Joy. They had to turn him around to take a bow because he couldn’t hear the crowd going crazy behind him. Stone deaf. He saw all of that music in his head.

Skylar: So, do you play the piano?

Will: Not a lick. I look at a piano and I see black and white keys, three pedals and a box of wood. Beethoven, Mozart, they looked at it and it just made sense to them. They saw a piano and they could play. I couldn’t paint you a picture, I probably can’t hit the ball out of Fenway Park and I can’t play the piano—

Skylar: —But you can do my O-chem lab in under an hour, you can–

Will: —When it came to stuff like that I could always just play.

Guess.

March 11, 2005

Subconscious life

Ever played chess? You know, the great strategic game of chess, the one which all the brainy people play? Of course you have. And so you also know how chess is supposed to be played — you look at the board, figure out what moves you can make, try to choose the most beneficial one while all the time trying to out-think your opponent. It’s a beautiful way to live.

But the problem is I can’t do that. When I play chess, I expect to ‘know’ the right move. I want to look at the board and literally ‘see’ what’s right — and not spend any time thinking about it at all. Hence the fact that I suck at chess.

You see, while I’m all for rational thought, I rather prefer ‘subconscious’ thought more. People usually refer to what I’m going for here as ‘being in the zone’. Most people I’ve seen who are good at something seem to get lost in what they’re good at.

Take me for example — I like to think that I’m an adequate enough programmer. Whenever I’m really into solving some little programming problem, I tend to space out. My friends can attest to the fact that I almost can’t be distracted while I’m thinking about something — when in fact I never even realize what I’m thinking about. I just type whatever comes naturally, so it’s really difficult for me to debug code later on.

And if I do get distracted, I get really cranky. I snap at whoever broke the peace — once I even yelled at a teacher for disturbing me while I was coding.

But to be honest, I’m not very good at any of this stuff. I’d love to reach a point where I can do things without thinking about them, so I try to train myself. It’s the little things that matter — doodling in a pointless manner during almost each lecture and hoping for a pattern to emerge; playing CS on my comp without giving it any thought at all, just reacting to what happens; listening to music while reading something important, paying attention to only the sounds and hoping to remember what I’m reading when the time comes; et cetera. There’s probably a conscious limit placed on our minds to keep us from absorbing too much information, but I don’t think there is any such limit in the subconscious mind.

Of course I do most of these things because I enjoy them, but I also appreciate the way they affect my mind. Oh, and I forgot to mention — staring at chess boards, just looking at them and hoping to see a solution.

Jaded

I’ve been a little too jaded the last 15 days. It’s getting to my nerves now, and it’s time to snap out of it. You won’t believe how I can feel as bored as I am right now and still do nothing. College’s started for one, and with it the pointless assignments. I think I can live with things being as pointless as they are, but can’t bear them to be any more meaningless.

I’ve not even started work on my projects — the term ends on first week of April. As usual, I’m trying to push my luck as far as I possible can…

And here’s the clincher — I, the person who probably loves books more than anything else, started reading Dracula more than a week ago. I find the book fascinating, and still can’t get myself to read. Not even reached a third way though yet.

Definitely time to snap out of it. Making some coffee, will wake till late coding.

March 08, 2005

Bookmark

Bookmark

Finally got around to scanning the bookmark I have. I think that this deserves to be called a work of art, and still can’t believe I got it for 20 bucks.

March 06, 2005

Garden State with Friday Night Lights

In a long series of movie reviews, next up is Garden State. It is one of those rare indie movies that take off. I’m amazed that I hadn’t even heard of this one before getting it from a friend; and am really thankful to him for it.

Again, to be blunt, you can call this a love story. I don’t despise love stories, there are quite a few worth watching, and this is one of the good ones. Written, directed and starred in by Zach Braff, who even selected the soundtrack to boot. I really like movies that are one guy’s pet project, they feel a lot more personal. He even maintains a blog on this movie.

OK, on with the plot. Andrew Largeman lives in the big city as a struggling actor who just had one big role. He has been on Lithium most of his life; his father (played by Ian Holm) is also his psychiatrist. He’s not been home to Garden State in 9 years, ever since he left for boarding school. Then his mother dies, and he had to go back.

From the start you see the extent to which he finds himself isolated; numb from the world. A few scenes, like the swimming-pool scene a little later on, really emphasize this. Oh, did I mention that he meets a girl — Sam (played excellently by Natalie Portman). Sam’s epileptic, a pathological liar, empathic and weird from the first scene (‘Kick him in the balls’). Needless to say, Andrew falls for Sam and so on.

But it’s the little weird scenes of the movie that pay off, and will be remembered. I really liked the ‘guardian of the infinite abyss’ sequence. A few moments of drug-induced haze near the beginning are also great. Hell, I could probably watch the movie again and again repeatedly. The leisurely pace at which the story unfolds is great.

In conclusion, a movie to watch. Try and get it if you’re a movie buff.

Now, lets start with Friday Night Lights. You get to see the ever versatile Billy Bob Thronton playing a (American) football coach in this one. It’s your typical sports movie, but not quite. There’s just something here that’s not quite predictable. Like other sports movies (Rudy, Remember the Titans…), the story’s aimed at showing the limits of the ‘human spirit’, whatever that is. And the complexities of winning/losing.

And we have teenage boys thinking that the most important moments in their lives will pass by at the age of 18. I’d be sad if anyone I knew ever felt like this; and I’m not much of a (team) sports guy anyway. And I don’t understand the importance given to sports in American culture as it is. Still, most people who see this movie will end up feeling really touched.

It was great fun, just not my favourite kind of fun. The fact that it does not have your usual ‘underdogs win all’ ending makes it worth watching.

Oh, and I’ll have to go to college from tomorrow. Will have to finish almost a whole semester’s work in the coming month. Ughh…

March 05, 2005

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

From Alexander Pope’s Eloisa to Abelard:

“How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d…”

I love all the Charlie Kaufman I’ve seems so far, so naturally I love Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as well. All his movies are eccentric & off-beat, and the plot-lines seem to deal with issues of identity. Take Adaptation for instance, where the level of ‘recursion’ is staggering if you catch my drift.

But enough about Kaufman, lets talk about the movie. The basic plot is of two lovers; each deciding to erase memories of the other from their mind. Actually pretty mainstream by Kaufman standards, Eternal Sunshine is basically a love story at heart. The concept is pretty intriguing, and will take some time for me to ‘grok in fullness’.

The scenes where Joel (Jim Carrey) goes from memory to memory trying to salvage whatever remains of Clementine (Kate Winslet) are particularly powerful/thought-provoking, dream-like & surreal. And I really liked the end, which I’m not going to give away in the slightest.

Please, when you see this movie, don’t start thinking logically and say this can never happen. Just go along with the ride and you’ll love it.

As I always say, Jim Carrey is under-rated (just like Robin Williams). The guy can seriously act. See this movie if you have any doubts on this. Actually, all the people in this movie act brilliantly. Kate Winslet really does deserve that Oscar nomination, and Clementine is probably going to remain the most memorable character from this movie. Elijah Wood is great post-LotR, even Kirsten Dunst acts well. Actually, the sub-plots among all the other characters are fascinating as well.

I’d give this movie, ugh., a 4.6/5 rating.

Some s/w stuff now

It’s been a long time since my last software-related post. So here goes, gotta keep my geek credentials.

7-Zip is the best open-source compression utility I could find. And it’s own compression format (.7z) results in smaller files than zip or rar files.

VLC is the video player. Whatever your needs, VLC will deliver. It’s played any file format I’ve thrown at it till date. You can stream stuff on your network, or play streaming media. It is also the most configurable player I’ve seen. There is no need to use anything else ever. It plays audio as well (of course), but I’ve had Winamp configured/hacked too perfectly for me to switch.

IsoBuster is a must on any system. It can read ‘slightly’ corrupt CD’s; the one’s that Windows hangs up on. And it’s good for extracting CD images as well.

HTTrack copies complete web-sites. You can mirror stuff using this. Can’t begin to describe how useful it’s been. Trust me, you’ll find a site you need to save sooner or later.

There are so many other tools that I can’t begin to list them all here. Bless those open source writers.

Update: Just noticed that GMail now supports a ‘basic HTML’ view. It’s compatible with old browsers too now.

March 04, 2005

Sify

My new ISP sucks. Sure, its a lot cheaper than the old one, and somewhat faster. But the really frustrating thing is that it is firewalled — it blocks most incoming ports. And it seems to totally block UDP (as far as I can tell).

I’ll tell you what this means — torrents do not download, can’t connect to eMule. Actually I hacked around and changed the client port in eMule, so that works fine now. Probably they’ve just blocked the default torrent ports, will play around with that later. One of the most annoying things is even streaming Real Media files won’t play — they use the RTSP protocol based on UDP. No more In Our Time episode downloads then.

When will ISP’s realize that when they advertise ‘24x7’ connectivity, we really expect it? The server seems to go down for a few minutes every 10-12 hours, and has already logged me off once.

And their dialler is atrocious to use — talk about UI sloppiness. All in all, I’ll still keep using this — being half the cost of my other option. But can’t say that I feel ‘loyal’ to the brand.

March 02, 2005

Cynicism

I’m often labelled as a cynic, and quite rightly so. I tend to think of myself has being a ‘self-induced cynic’, it that makes any sense.

You see, when I’m not cynical about something, I’m almost surely fanatical. Which is worse, so I try to not get too worked up. Nobody likes a fanatic. Moments when I feel too much optimism don’t last.

I know a couple of people who are oppressively optimistic about the world; have given up on ever understanding them at all.

Another thing; there is one skill that I’m trying to cultivate — speak only when you are going to be heard. This is really hard, requires a lot of self-discipline, and is where I've failed miserably so far. Anyways, nothing is worse than being ignored, especially when all you want to do is help.

OK, here’s the quote that best describes what I’m writing about:

Calvin: When I grow up, I’m not going to read the newspaper and I’m not going to follow complex issues and I’m not going to vote. That way I can complain when the government doesn’t represent me. Then, when everything goes down the tubes, I can say the system doesn’t work and justify my further lack of participation.
Hobbes: An ingeniously self-fulfilling plan.
Calvin: It’s a lot more fun to blame things than to fix them.

(PS: This post has been sitting around for ages. Never quite wrote it properly.)