April 27, 2005

Serenity...finally

Serenity

Stop what you’re doing and check out the trailer for Serenity right now! That was a little forceful, but I’ve waited long enough to catch a look at this movie. And the trailer does not disappoint.

The history first—Serenity is the movie version of Joss Whedon’s TV show, Firefly. Now I’ve not even seen Firefly, some network blockheads pulled it off air before even the first season finished, and there is no chance of it being shown in India.

I just know that Firefly is the SciFi show that everyone is raving about. If you like SciFi, there is really not much to see on TV—all the shows are pathetic. But the buzz is Firefly was good. But that’s beside the point. If Joss Whedon wrote soap operas, I’d still watch them. The man is gold, I tell ya.

His two previous TV shows—Buffy & Angel are two of the best shows I’ve seen. Ever. And I should know, I’ve seen everything that comes on TV around here. The man knows how to write characters—and make people care about characters.

Here’s my second–favourite Whedon quote (the favourite one is at the bottom of each page of my blog) —

“You take people, you put them on a journey, you give them peril, you find out who they really are. If there’s any kind of fiction better than that, I don’t know what it is.”

I rest my case.

April 26, 2005

Before Sunset

I know I should be studying, but OOAD is just too boring. Reading about UML diagrams gets old real soon. So instead I saw Before Sunset.

Before Sunset is the sequel to Before Sunrise. Now Before Sunrise is one of the very few romantic movies I like—and I didn’t think I’d like the sequel as well. I had full belief the it could not be as good as the original.

It isn’t as good as the original. I’m saying this only because you have to see the first to love the second one as well. And I really loved both these movies. Even being romantic, both movies are filled with cynicism. They are also pragmatic, if that makes any sense.

I’m not going to talk about the story at all. See both the movies, and try to give a slight gap between seeing them. I think this the best sequel I’ve seen—the best continuation of a story. LotR does not count, it’s one whole story. Same with others like Kill Bill, which is essentially just one movie. And Matrix Revolutions, though it was great, ruined the trilogy for me as it turned out to be totally different from what I expected. Yeah, Before Sunset is the best sequel I’ve seen, without a doubt.

Generators!

I’m simply blown away by this. Check out this piece of code (if you care to) —-

def factors(num):
  i = 2
  yield 1
  while i<((num/2)+1):
    if num%i == 0: 
      yield i
    i = i+1

if __name__ == "__main__":
  f = factors(12321)
  for i in f:
    print i,

Which gives you the output —

1 3 9 37 111 333 1369 4107

Generators are similar to functions, but they remember their state. And you can iterate over a generator’s output. I can already think of so many ways in which this is cool. The language is Python of course.

The Charming Python column on this is really neat. You can always Google this for more info then.

April 24, 2005

10,000

Ohh, the blog’s visitors have reached 5 digits! Promise not the mention the count again until it reaches 6 digits.

Ciao.

Today in Hardware…

OK, I woke up this morning and my PC won’t boot. Here’s my normal routine I wake up, and then go to sleep again. Repeat this a few times, then finally wake up. Start the PC, go brush my teeth and stuff. Sit on the PC for some time, make some coffee and then sit for some more time.

I know, I spend way too much time in front of the monitor. Anyways, today the PC didn’t start at all. The power supply was OK, the monitor showed it’s blinking light thingy. After some head-scratching, I realized that the power button of the cabinet was done for. Oh shit, I said.

I opened the cabinet, poked my head here and there trying to figure out how to deal with this. Then went and made some coffee. Came back, and looked around for a few more minutes. Finally figured out how to remove the cabinet’s front side—had never done that before. Coughed for a few minutes at all the dust, brought the vacuum cleaner and got rid of that.

I had a brilliant idea by this time — exchange the wires for the Power & Reset switches. I’ve never used the Reset switch at all. After poking around, finally saw where the wires for these two switches went in the motherboard. Promptly removed the wires, exchanged them and we’re through.

Before doing this, I spent a frantic 5 minutes searching for the motherboard manual, just in case there was some useful information in it. Could not find it at all.

So I’m sitting at my PC today wearing an incredibly smug look. You see, I’m not a hardware guy at all. From now on, I want to be known as the ‘master of the little switches’.

Léon

Léon poster

I don’t really know what to say about Léon. I really loved watching it; Luc Besson directed this to absolute perfection. The acting’s also great; Jean Reno, Natalie Portman and Gary Oldman are all wonderful.

Léon is a professional hitman, the best of the best. But his life takes a turn when his neighbours are killed, and he takes in their daughter, Mathilda. The 12 year old girl then wants to learn how to be a professional. There are corrupt cops, hitmen, drug lords, and other shady characters throughout the movie. No seemingly good guys around.

Only the slight sexual tension among the two felt a little weird, and it probably was meant to. The scenes where Léon teaches Mathilda his trade are absolute gold.

The music is great, I read somewhere the Luc Besson has the same guy do the soundtracks of all his movies. The script is also great, I’m trying to get my hands on a transcript of the movie or something. One of the best moments in the movie goes something like this —

Mathilda: Is life always this hard, or is it just when you’re a kid?
Léon: Always like this.

There is no sugar–coating in this movie. It’s going into my favourites list.

Anyone interested can check out the movie’s trailers.

April 23, 2005

Placements fun

April 17th:
New poll on college’s placement related Yahoo Group.

Should the limit of holding only 1 placement offer be relaxed?

Me:

Its a stupid rule.

April 18th:
Guy in charge of placements:

I feel that it is important that you know the bare facts before you jump to any conclusions or form any opinion on the placement policy. As far as the rules are concerned, there are only three major issues which they seek to cover.
1. Who should be eligible for placement?
2. Should students preparing for competitive examinations be permitted to take part in the placement process?
3. Should students already selected by any certain company be permitted to apply for placement in some other company as well?
… the third issue is a most controversial and generally requires a more cool-headed response than that it is a stupid matter.The college is generally considered to be obligated to provide placement to all those who apply for the same.
… As of now the college management is very firm on not allowing a single student to hold more than one job offer. If we are to seek to oppose this policy, then we better have strong reasons for doing so,

This was a really long mail.

I could go on an on posting transcripts, but that would be besides the point. In 5 days, 25 messages have been posted on this topic alone. My first flame war, heh. This is really a lot of fun. I think I should start commenting on Slashdot now.

April 21, 2005

Quandary phase… Yippie

I’m excited! BBC is gonna start the Quandary phase of the Hitchhiker’s Guide radio show from May 3. And as BBC is so cool and all, you’ll be able to listen to the episodes online. Quandary phase = the fourth series. The Quintessential Phase (fifth series) will start on 31 May.

All Hitchhiker’s Guide fans rejoice. I can tell you, the radio show is almost surely going to be a lot better than the new movie, not that anything’s gonna stop me from watching the movie as well. Only bad news is that there seem to be only 4 episodes in this series.

Ok, links. Here’s BBC Radio 4’s page on the new series. Here’s a link to the downloadable trailer for the Quandary phase. Link to the production diary.

People who are not familiar with the Hitchhiker’s Guide — all I can tell you is

DON’T PANIC

All in good time.

April 17, 2005

Ta-Da

I know I’m late, but you’ve just got to see what these people at 37signals keep coming up with. First of all, there is their blog—Signal vs. Noise which is great. And it looks really nice.

Their main product, Basecamp is also really cool. Its a web-application for project management, but you can use it for almost anything. I played around for a while, and am definitely going to use this for my final year project. It’s just too much fun to use.

Then there’s Ta-Da List, which has Basecamp’s to-do list functionality for free. It’s just the simplest web-application ever; but still damn useful. You just create to-do lists, and check off stuff you’ve done. Try it, you’ll never understand why it is so useful. I’m keeping the list private, as its embarrassing how much stuff I plan to do which never gets done at all. Hate the name though.

Now I’m hyped over Backpack, their upcoming app. No idea what it’s gonna be, so much for the better.

April 15, 2005

Half-blood prince cover

Check it out.

US Cover

Let the speculation on what this means begin. The Half-Blood Prince releases July 16. Should get it around the end of July around here. I calculate that it will cost around Rs. 700 to me. So expensive that I almost feel like not buying it.

Yeah, I’ve really got nothing to do. Except studying. Hence the filler post. Move along.

Update:
OK, there are other editions out as well. The above was for the US edition. Featured below are the covers for the UK children's edition and the UK adult edition. Also note, that all these editions are the same, just packaged differently. These new images via MuggleNet.

UK Adult edition coverUS Cheildren's edition cover

Another Update:
I feel like such a geek right about now.

April 14, 2005

Sify again

I’m going to write something positive for a change.

OK, since the last week of March, I suddenly started getting great speeds from Sify. Around 2.5–3 times what I was supposed to get. I was of course really happy, and thought it was just a fluke. My luck, as it were, and kept quiet about it. Then when I renewed my connection for April, I still got great speeds.

Now I’ve come to realize that Sify’s actually increased the bandwidth to most customers. People say that’s because in the recent budget, broadband prices were cut by around 70%; and Sify just upgraded people’s plans instead of making the plans cheaper.

Whatever the reason is, I’m happy with Sify at present. It’s not perfect; but better than most options at present. Other ISP’s have not upgraded their plans yet.

OK, I still can’t view/download Real Media files, which sucks. And their default dialler really sucks, but EasySify does the job really well. Thanks to Ankit Malik for this one.

April 11, 2005

Aptitude

MBT is organizing placements for some colleges, and I went for the preliminary aptitude test today. It was a day almost wasted, as of course I didn’t qualify. But it was a learning experience; the next test will probably (hopefully) be a success.

For the uninitiated, let me tell you how placements for engineering students are held around here. There are a ridiculously large number of people studying engineering in Mumbai, so companies can make the selection process as tough as they want.

First off, there is the cut–off percentage, to be eligible for placements. It varies from company to company, most demand that your aggregate over the 5 semesters you’ve given so far be over 60%. Which is tough. Anyone below the cut–off is not considered for placements at all. Anyone with current KT’s is also not considered.

Then there are the preliminary aptitude tests and such. The companies set the toughest possible papers. They generally give you multiple–choice questions to test your analytical, verbal, logical, et cetera skills. Most only clear the top 20-25% students appearing for the test to the next stage.

Then comes the good stuff, where you are actually tested on what you know. Technical tests, technical interviews, HR interviews, behavioural evaluation and what not. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll get an offer at the end—anything from Rs. 225,000 to Rs. 325,000 per annum (before the deductions) is the norm these days for ‘normal’ colleges. But then, if you’re from the IIT or something, you can probably get a lot more.

All this and what is the result—you’ll almost surely end up in some BPO organization, or some software services company. There are really few product development companies in India. You’d probably get a job that is not creative at all, where being creative and innovative is probably gonna get you fired. It’s ironic isn’t it, the American tech guys are screaming about being Bangalored, while over here people are dying over getting the job no American wants anyway.

April 10, 2005

The good things in life… Part 2

Think happy thoughts…

  1. No more assignments.
  2. Great net connection.
  3. Python.
  4. Movies.
  5. Encouragement
  6. Eclipse, which makes Java bearable.
  7. Ice–creams.

You might want to look over part one as well. Yeah, and to be continued.

April 07, 2005

Writing assignments

Any engineering student (at least any Mumbai University student) will tell you what is the worst waste of time imaginable — writing those damn assignments.

Here’s what we’re supposed to do: each subject a minimum number of practical/theory assignments prescribed in the syllabus. That is, you have to complete them.

But the problem comes in when you have to complete all of them in around 1–2 months time. Counting study leave, time for practical exams, preliminary exams, board exams, the various college ‘festivals’ and the break between semesters, there is only around one month of college time in a 6 month semester. And you’re expected to do most of the work in and around this time.

Which is fine. I solve all my programming assignments just fine. But there is the theory stuff that gets to me.

You’re supposed to copy down what’s given in the textbooks. I tried writing my own answers once, and that was a horrible experience. If what you write is different in any way, the professor generally don’t understand a word of it.

And I still don’t get why we are supposed to write. This semester, for DBMS, we had to fight the professor for a week to let us take printouts. She wanted us to copy down the SQL queries we solved in the practicals, and then copy down the results of those queries, and write the whole bloody thing in a tabular form.

You’re supposed to learn stuff in college if I heard it right. But I’m more than half–way through, and I can honestly say I’ve learned nothing at college. Absolutely nothing. I’ve written an awful lot though…

Well, for me the drudgery ends tomorrow (I really really hope). Term ends tomorrow, and most of the files are in order. This post is rubbish, am too frustrated right now to even think straight.

Anyways, am looking forward to anything but writing now.

April 06, 2005

Searching weirdness

Keeping ‘Twisted’ in your blog name is bound to induce a lot of weird traffic. But some of this stuff really is too weird — here are some ‘twisted’ things that people searched for and reached here:

  • Twisted Desktop
  • twisted quotes
  • may your road be twisted
  • scripts twisted
  • most twisted movie plots
  • Machiavelli quote twisted
  • really weird and twisted stuff
  • twisted soap
  • getting twisted

Then there is the other stuff that’s also weird.

  • can’t view hindi on firefox
  • how to format my pc?
  • fight club in mumbai
  • chess lotr triology
  • repetition lies
  • Idealist view on spamming

I’ve not been keeping tabs on this for long, only a week or two. I’ll definitely keep looking now, it’s too funny to miss.

April 04, 2005

Stupid. Really stupid.

OK, I don’t ever read again what I’ve read more than a week or so before. I’ve never read my really old archive pages. I don’t delete stuff, and one advantage of blogging is of course ‘the trip down memory lane’. I was bored today, and thought why not read some old stuff.

The problem is none of my really older posts have any comments left. I was like ‘Shit, did I mess up with the template again?’. But checking around, I know the template’s fine.

And here comes that part which really pisses me off — at myself really. I found out today that Haloscan deletes comments older than 4 months. OK, it does not delete them, but ‘archives’ them, and you can only restore them when you’re a paid member. Fuck.

That’s one reason to always read the fine print. When I started blogging, it was just for fun. I was playing around, experimenting with stuff. Now I really treasure some of the stuff I’ve written, hate some of it too. But I want permanence, damn it.

I’m really pissed right now. Oh well, time to enable Blogger comments. They’re not perfect, but at least I don’t get blindsided using them. Time for a clean break.

Check out the now empty-looking blog. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get my older comments back, but I’m atleast going to save my Haloscan comments for the last 4 months on my disk.

April 03, 2005

Movies, and then some more.

I’ve seen some really great movies in the last 2–3 weeks. Here goes —

Before Sunrise is the best love story I’ve seen, ever. The plot is simple, an American boy meets a French girl on a train in Europe and they spend a night together. But you have to see the movie to get how great it is. I really love the little touches here and there in to movie — the street poet, the cemetery, the Dylan Thomas recital… I could go on and on about each little scene in the movie, and still miss a few as I’ve only seen the movie once (yet).

I like that this movie is not one of those ‘love will conquer all’ movies, but the characters here try to stay rooted in reality.

Monty Python’s the Life of Brian is funny. Probably the only movie funnier still is The Holy Grail. Once you see one Monty Python movie, you’re addicted to the really wicked sense of humour; I’m going to have to see everything remotely related to Monty Python now. I don’t know, this one seems less silly than The Holy Grail, but I’ll have to watch it a few times to be sure.

OK, the obligatory quotes —

Judith: I do feel Reg, that any anti-imperialistic group like ours must reflect such a divergence of interest within its powerbase.
Reg: Agreed. Rogers?
Rogers: Yes, I think Judith’s point of view is very valid, Reg, provided the movement never forgets that it is the unalienable right of every man…
Stan: Or woman.
Rogers: …or woman to rid himself…
Stan: Or herself.
Rogers: …or herself…
Reg: Agreed.
Rogers: Thank you, brother.
Stan: Or sister.
Rogers: Or sister…where was I?
Reg: I think you’d finished.
Rogers: Oh. Right.

Brian: I’m not the Messiah, would you please listen, I am not the Messiah, do you understand? Honestly!
Woman in crowd: Only the true Messiah denies his divinity.
Brian: What? Well, what sort of chance does that give me? All right! I am the Messiah!
Crowd: He is! He is the Messiah!
Brian: Now, fuck off!
Crowd: [Silence]
Man in crowd: How shall we fuck off, oh Lord?
Brian: Oh, just go away! Leave me alone!

Brian: Look, you’ve got it all wrong! You don’t need to follow me! You don’t need to follow anybody! You’ve got to think for yourselves! You’re all individuals!
Crowd (in unison throughout the scene): Yes, we’re all individuals!
Brian: You’re all different!
Crowd: Yes, we are all different!
Homogenous Man: I’m not.
Crowd: [Multiple Silencing Sounds]
Brian: You all got to work it out for yourselves!
Crowd: Yes, we’ve got to work it out for ourselves!
Brian: Exactly!
Crowd: Tell us more!

Crucifixion Assistant I: The Judean People’s Front!
Fat Centurion: The Judean People’s Front!
Judean People’s Front Commander: Forward, all!
Crucifixion Assistant II: Look out! The Judean People’s Front!
Crucifixion Assistant III: The Judean People’s Front!
Crucifixion Assistant IV: The Judean People’s Front!
Judean People’s Front Commander: We are the Judean People’s Front, crack suicide squad. Suicide squad…attack!
*Judean People’s Front committing suicide*: Augh! Arrgh…
Judean People’s Front Commander: That showed them, huh? *dies*
Brian: You silly sods!

Then there is No Man’s Land, which is another good movie. No other movie I’ve seen recently has left me feeling as bitter as this one. Actually it pissed me off — which it should. Try and grab a copy if you can.

April 01, 2005

Hard Work?

OK — I define hard work somewhat differently than most people. Hard work for me is not a measure of how much effort you put in, it’s how much you think. Also, its about doing things that are hard, not tedious. But for the purpose of this post, lets assume hard work is what everyone thinks it is and continue.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for people working hard. I wouldn’t know, I’ve rarely, if ever, worked hard. But I think hard work by itself is not a virtue.

Lets face it, if you work hard and don’t get anything done, you’re just plain dumb.

I don’t understand why people value efforts more than results. Why people like anyone who slogs through life. People rooting for the underdog is understandable, but people getting pissed at the winner is not. It seems that no one values talent in today’s society. It’s as if you’re not supposed to do anything you’re good at — you should do something which is hard for you to do in order for it to mean something.

I admit this is a personal issue for me — I think I’m smart (I’m not being too pretentious, people keep telling me I’m smart). So far I’ve managed to pass through life without working too hard. I’ve always got to the ballpark of what I’ve aimed for (not the top, and not anywhere near the bottom of anything). And throughout my life everyone has told me that I’m too lazy.

I’m always compared to other people. Hard working people. And always it seems like I’ve committed some great sin if I beat someone who works harder than me without too much effort.

And people get offended when I don’t care. Seriously, a few people have been horrified at how little effort I put into studies. Most don’t believe me of course. Some get angry — they don’t like the fact that I have it so easy, and this I understand. But most just treat me differently.

And what bothers me a lot is that nobody wants to be smart. People seem satisfied with what they know so far.

GMail is one. Long live GMail

I had an inkling that there would be some updates to GMail today. And sure enough, I loaded up the page at college and I see this —

Infinity+1

OK, in all seriousness, here’s the news. GMail’s storage space is now up to 2Gb (which does not matter). And they seem to be promising to keep adding more space as the user’s keep filling up their inboxes, which does matter.

Their home page features some cool Javascript to show the update. Its all for show, if you look through the code, you’ll see that there’s a counter that will keep updating until it reaches 2Gb.

Other than that, the big news is that GMail finally lets you compose HTML formatted mails. I’ve quite gotten used to writing stuff in plain text — I even write this blog in text. But it’s always nice to have options.