July 23, 2005

Now serving dead trees.

My house was resembling a warehouse for old newspapers but we finally got rid of them today. There was nearly 50Kg worth of paper laying around.

Consider what we get every day:

Most days, the Times’ bundle itself crosses over 120 pages. And it seems that every other day we get a complimentary free copy of Hindustan Times… I imagine when DNA launches, we’ll get that for free too initially. Mumbai is going newspaper crazy I say.

I don’t read newspapers at all; the max I do is try & solve the crossword puzzles. I’m hopeless at that of course. But my folks don’t listen to me when I say that you don’t need so much paper.

Bloglines keeps me on top of things very nicely.

July 22, 2005

For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls cover

What can I say about a classic that hasn’t been said before?

The first thing that struck me about the book was the language used — Spanish translated into English in a from that’s quite awkward at first, but then quickly feels natural. Reading those passages was pure joy after the initial jolt; it seems that Hemingway used an archaic form English to represent the “antiquity and formality” of the Spanish language (from the Wikipedia article). If its true, then Spanish is the language I’m gonna learn next.

The story is nothing too special, but the way it is told is really nice. Robert Jordan (or Roberto as he’s called for most of the book) is an American helping in the Spanish Civil War. He’s been sent in to enemy territory to blow up a bridge for an attack with the help of local guerrillas. Pablo, the leader of these guerrillas is hesitant to help. There’s a lot of tension between these two, power dynamics & what not. Plus you have Roberto meeting María and they fall in love with each other. There’s tragedy, there’s loss — no war novel can be complete without that.

The book chronicles 4 days of Roberto’s life; but with periods of flashbacks and such of course.

The way the characters are described is great; you empathetically feel for them. This is the first Hemingway I’ve read, and I feel like reading more. But this sort of book is not for everyday reading…

On not being sure.

Today another company came for campus placements to my college — another company I blew off. The list so far is:

  • MBT — I flunked the aptitude test.
  • L&T Infotech — I saw their presentation & skipped the test.
  • Hexaware — I didn’t even go to college for the test.
  • Bristlecone — which was today. I saw the presentation and skipped the test…again.

This almost makes it seem like I don’t want a job, or like I’m in denial or something. I skipped these companies for several reasons; the main ones being that they didn’t offer too much money, and that they didn’t feel right.

This is sort of weird, but I’ve always known where I’m going in life. Until now. After my school, I knew I wanted to do a Diploma. The first time I heard of Shah & Anchor, I just knew I’d go there. The first time I heard of SIES, I just knew I’d do my engineering there.

I also always knew I wanted to work with computers — that I knew from the first time I laid my hands on one. But I don’t exactly know what I want to do.

For sure I’m not going to be doing any post-graduation, management is not for me & more technical education will be a joke. If I were to think about my future, a task I don’t do lightly, I’d want to be in a small company; the perfect size if four people. Probably a company a bunch of like-minded people have formed, where we do some product development work. Nothing related to enterprise software development. Hell, I’ve even picked up a cool name for the company if I float it myself. But the idea is to get some experience, but more importantly some money, before doing something like this.

I’ve just not felt that any of there companies that have come to my college are just right for me, so I can’t really try to join them. So I’m holding out for something better for the time being…

One advantage of my reticence is that it will ‘thin out the herd’ so to speak. When (& if) more companies come later on, there will be fewer people competing for jobs. But the obvious disadvantage is that I don’t get any experience with the whole ‘process’; and the way they recruit fresher is just ridiculous.

There is always an aptitude test, which I’m not really worried about. But from then on it gets tough — group discussion & interviews. And I’m not a social person, I can’t really perform well in that stuff.

I had gone today thinking I’ll clear the aptitude test, and get some experience with the groups discussion & so on. Couldn’t do it though, it just felt weird trying to apply for a job I don’t want; especially given that so many of the others really wanted it…

Ohh, next up is Persistent Systems, and reading about it gives me a slight tingle. I think this will be a good one to try for, only thing remains is getting cleared.

July 21, 2005

Just typing…

OK, right now the weather’s awesome. Its raining like hell, the wind’s perfect and there’s lightning around. Plus my net is still on, which is weird for this weather. I’m enjoying it. Hell, if it wasn’t night, I’d go down.

This sort of weather makes me feel fresh and strangely awake — I’m far from being sleepy right now. Plus it gives me all sorts of ideas, which probably won’t feel that good tomorrow morning…

Ohh, here’s a trinket I read again today which for some reason stuck:

That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange æons even death may die.

Its by Lovecraft, who I’ve not read at all. Seems like I should.

Damn, I’d give anything to have this sort of weather everyday…

Regret

I can’t really feel a lot of emotions, and regret is one of them. I don’t think I’ve ever regretted something; or at least I don’t remember regretting anything. I can say that I’m incapable of regretting any decision I make — I can’t really do much about the decisions that are made for me.

I’m introspective, but I know the past is past. I can’t do anything about it. And I know I’ll do the same thing over and over again given a choice — how can I do something else and still remain myself? If the choices you make make you, then you can’t really afford to have any regrets. Or you’ll end up contemplating suicide every other minute…

I have no time for regret; and I despise navel-gazing, ‘if only I did that’ types.

I’m someone who (somewhat) knows what I am all about, and I’ve spent countless hours thinking about all kinds of shit that goes on. And I know that I’ll never regret anything I do…ever. I may be sorry I did something, but won’t regret it.

Tags:

July 17, 2005

White Room.

(This could be the first in a series of posts on ‘songs that define their genré’; but probably not. I’m not much of a music man.)

White Room for me defines 60’s music. I couldn’t classify music if my life depended on it, but I get a feeling that putting this under the category of psychedelic rock is just about right. The song is FRIKKIN’ PERFECT I tell ya! Slightly sad as all good stuff is, with lyrics that I won’t ever be able to explain:

In the white room with black curtains near the station.
Black-roof country, no gold pavements, tired starlings.
Silver horses run down moonbeams in your dark eyes.
Dawn-light smiles on you leaving, my contentment.

And that’s just the first verse… The music is great; Clapton’s guitar solos (can I call them that?) keep building & building, and some brilliant stuff is the result. Plus the song manages to sound sad, ominous and triumphant all at once…

And if you have any sort of imagination, the lyrics will definitely make you see stuff. The stunning visuals this song evokes make me wish I could film what I imagine.

That didn’t go really well though, people are better off just hearing it themselves. There’s an interesting, albeit too technical, article about this song over at reasontorock.com; musically literate people are advised to head that way.

Half-blood Prince

Half-Blood Prince Adult edition cover

I’m in two minds about this book; I really liked it and its really frustrating. Don’t worry, I’ll not give the plot away just yet.

The book starts of well, and never stops. This is the fastest-paced Potter book you’ll read, not that I grudge this point. Everything is well and good, I loved this book as usual. I’ve said it before, each successive book just keeps getting better. And as doubtless people will keep pointing out, this is a much more polished book the HP5.

Now for the bad part. The thing is that the end was expected, if not predictable. Little hints are thrown in throughout the book, to guard readers from the shock really. Plus there was the in-the-end-all-you-have-is-yourself factor, a must for all hero books. I could go on, but I confess that all this does not matter.

I would have loved the book beyond all doubts if I just had the Seventh book in my hands right now as well. HP6 is, to use more clichés, the deep breath before the plunge. Reading this makes you badly want to know what happens next, but knowing JK Rowling we’ll be lucky to get it by 2008.

Which I guess is just about right for a series like this. Writing the next book is gonna be tough, and I expect we’ll get a 1,000 page epic. Hopefully.

July 15, 2005

For when I’m rich as hell.

Amazon: 1 2 3 4 5

The last one is for when I’m really rich.

Update: Adding another one.

July 12, 2005

Back as usual…

College started yesterday, but I’m bunking till next week.

The subjects just keep getting worse, here are this semester’s picks:

  • Computer Simulation & Modelling; statistics combined with modelling & testing of software (I think).
  • Mobile Computing; a joke of a subject. But something I can almost bear.
  • Image Processing; not as fun as it sounds. It involves math.
  • Management Information Systems; as terrible as it seems.
  • Programming with Components; which is full of outdated stuff it seems.

Can’t really complain about Programming with Components, it was an elective & I chose it over Advanced DBMS; it at least seems to be a somewhat practical subject.

Oh, and results for the last semester are out — 67%.

July 10, 2005

L’étranger

The Stranger

When I picked up Albert Camus’ The Stranger, I had no idea that it was a classic. It’s a really short novel, or a long short-story; depending on your POV. It was a fun read, and being short didn’t matter. Any book I like is by definition short.

The dude’s (Meursault) weird all right, but I liked him. I won’t write any of that ‘analysis’ shit — I googled the book and all I could find were study notes. To anyone who’s interested reading about what this book symbolizes or something, I say sod off.

There’s only one thing I want to say about this book — its not plausible. People like Meursault don’t end up as he did. When ‘faced with the absurd’, they learn to act along. I certainly did…

Heroes Die

This has been some time coming, but I could not get myself to write an ‘objective’ review on Heroes Die — I like the book too damn much. Visceral is the word that comes to mind when trying the describe it, among others.

Heroes Die is an interesting blend of SciFi & Fantasy; set in the future with an alternate reality thrown in. It’s also a political/social critique. It’s a love story, and it’s an old fashioned hero story as well.

The society of the future is a rigid, caste-based one; with your caste depending on what you do. Hari is an actor here on Earth, belonging to the ‘professional’ caste. But on Overworld he’s Caine, the most feared assassin. He ‘acts’, that is goes for adventures on Overworld from time to time which millions of people on Earth watch live.

Overworld is Earth in an alternate dimension, the rules of physics there are different. There’s magic, with all your usual fantasy creatures thrown in for good measure. Here’s the twist — on Earth Hari is trapped in a totalitarian culture, but on Overworld Caine is free. Until he has to come back that is…

Matt Stover does not pull any punches in this one. Can’t recommend reading this enough; you’re sure to love this if you’re into the likes of Chuck Palahniuk. Plus, Stover’s blog is also worth checking out.

The next book I buy is going to be this one.

July 08, 2005

Lately…

  • I’m reading up on C++ (again). Thinking in C++ is the only way to go.
  • I’m playing around with the Linux install.
  • I’m annoying other people, on principle.
  • I’m listening to music again. Not new stuff, but stuff I already like. Baby steps, you know.
  • I’m thinking about switching & using VIM. This stuff’s important.
  • I’m getting bored again and almost looking forward to college.
Tags:

Installing Fedora

I finally got Linux on my box. It was actually quite easy to install:

  • Create a new (unallocated) partition
  • Get Fedora Core 4 CD’s
  • Start setup
  • Select “Automatic partitioning” and then “Use unallocated space” for installing Linux
  • Keep going on…

Bingo, you’re done. The only problem here was I forgot to backup anything before installing, and spent the whole time worrying whether my Windows installation is going to be hammered. Shit always happens when you forget stuff, but I got no problems.

Fedora Core 4 rocks. Gnome looks real cool, is sure beats looking at Windows any day. The hardware detection was great, it installed everything connected to my machine correctly. And I chose the ‘complete’ install — the drive’s full of software I’ve not even heard of. Took a lot of time to install, around two hours. But that’s acceptable considering I got more than 6Gb worth of apps installed.

Linux is a programmer’s wet dream.

A few gripes as usual — Fedora Core 4 does not ship with XMMS or xine, the most popular Linux players. I had to install them myself. Then there is the thing where no video codecs are installed, hell it won’t even play MP3s by default; Red Hat takes being wary of patents related lawsuits to an extreme. Had to install all the software myself.

Another thing was that it didn’t mount my other partitions by default, had to do so myself. Which was a nice learning experience BTW.

I love using yum to install stuff — but I’ll have to get a better speed connection to really enjoy it. My 40kbps does not cut it.

This is the first time I got my net connection working on Linux — and it was really simple. Exatt just has a PPPoE connection that you need to setup, the other ISP’s probably require their custom dialers.

A few sites were a real help for the post-installation stuff:

July 05, 2005

Waterfalls are fun

I went for a little trek on Sunday; didn’t post anything as I was dead tired on coming back and slept through most of yesterday. I can tell you this is the most fun I’ve had in as long as I can remember. I love mountains, and I love the rains — life is fun.

I woke up early, and left for the station. We were going to Neral, which is the railway station closest to Matheran. Matheran’s a really famous hill station, but we weren’t going there.

Just walk for a couple of kilometres from Neral and you reach them; the mountains. The last time we were here, it was September and the rains had nearly stopped. We followed a stream and started climbing upwards. This time around, its been raining heavily and all the streams are swollen up. At a glance, you could see tens of waterfalls on the mountainside.

We asked around, and found a path to one of these falls. Getting there is so much fun — you need to keep fording the streams that come in your way. You need to balance yourself on slimy moss-grown boulders if you’re following the stream. Or you can take the faster route; going through the neighbouring mountainside which is as much fun.

We reached the first waterfall around 10:00 hours, I think. It was lovely, I can’t really describe it with words. And I didn’t bring my trusty SLR, so no pics. We sat around there for half an hour, and then went on our way again. We had heard of another waterfall somewhere on the back side of the hill we were on which was more fun, so we tried to find it.

The second one was breathtaking — a narrow stream of water falling down from a nice height with extraordinary force. It carved out a sort of pool in the rocks where it fell, and we could lounge around in that pool. Which we did, for two hours. It’s difficult to explain, but the flow of water was so strong there that you felt like you were floating. You just had to balance your hands on a rock and push off with your feet; it done at the proper place, you’d float on your hands for minutes at a time. Lying there is better than sitting in some jazuzzi, anytime.

One thing to note about water — you get exhausted pretty quickly if you’re not used to swimming or something. Anyway, we started on our way back around afternoon, and going downhill is much faster than going uphill. Came home around 17:00, and was sore throughout the body. It was good fun…

July 02, 2005

Project

Am doing my final year project at NPCIL, which is a ‘sister’ company of BARC (those are terrible designed sites BTW). I for one don’t want to have anything to do with government companies, but these are the good ones. The companies that actually do some work (and very serious work at that).

The project is somewhat interesting—I could not think of anything to do that hasn’t been done before or that’s not out of my league, so I let the company decide. They told us to write an application that monitors one of their networks; which is something related to data streamed from the reactors which I didn’t understand. Its nothing critical (which they mentioned a couple of times themselves), they just don’t have a tool which does this in a convenient manner. Its something challenging as well as simple at the same time, and I have no idea at present how to go about it.

The plus points are numerous—I have to work on Linux which is always great. They want the application to be written in C++; but I did try to convince them on using Python but no use. Nevertheless, I’ve never really programmed for Linux/Unix systems, so this’ll be a nice learning experience. They also want the GUI to be built using Qt, another toolkit which I wanted to learn about anyway.

The group is supposed to practice a little, read books & what not for a couple of months, after which there’ll be four months of coding. Fun.

And this gives me an excuse install Fedora Core 4 on my system…