September 29, 2005

More weird Google searches

The craziness continues:

  • joyce sirens psychogenic fugue
  • ank porn
  • twisted sleep iterate
  • ektaa kapoor blog
  • ankit love
  • mini project circuit of elevator
  • love at Hexaware
  • weird stats about weird things
  • where is the best place to live during global warming
  • brain would explode under pressure forcing not outdistance incompetence
  • tobey maguire asked to eat healthy

People actually reached here after searching for these terms on Google/Yahoo. Do check out an earlier post.

September 25, 2005

Good stuff!

Yesterday I had to go to some relative’s place for whatever reason. I usually get out of stuff like this by making some excuse, but yesterday was conveniently timed for me. I could go there, show my face around for a while, and then shop for some stuff I wanted.

First of all, books! I found New & Secondhand after much searching, went in and was blown away. The descriptions don’t do any justice to how cramped that place is with books. I almost felt claustrophobic there. Plus there are so many books that for a while I didn’t know where to begin.

Didn’t have much time though, so just picked up a couple of books:

I don’t know why, but the place had at least 5 different hard-bound editions of Great Expectations by Dickens. Each looked great, some even had the original illustrations. Guess that’s the most popular Dickens book or something.

Next time I go there, I plan on cleaning up the shop if you catch my drift…

The book shopping was only my compulsiveness, what I really went there to get was a decent pair of headphones. In the last 6 months, I’ve gone through 3 pairs of cheap headphones that sucked. It was time to get a good pair, and forget about headphones for a couple of years.

The end result: Philips SHP805

Philips SHP805; which fits like a dream on my head, sounds divine, and nearly finished up my account balance. But it’s gonna be worth it I’m sure.

September 22, 2005

Stupid PR-speak

I don’t like people using incomprehensible English as a shield designed to confuse anyone who tries to understand what is going on, like lawyers for instance. But I can accept that. What I can’t accept is false politeness, writing in a sugary-sweet manner while saying absolutely nothing at all.

Take for example Sify. They didn’t have Heroes Die in stock, so they cancelled my order. Infuriating yes, but what was more infuriating was the way they did it. Here’s the first email I got:

This refers to your order no. deleted which you had placed on us. As per your instruction to Sifymall we have cancelled the following items from this order. This mail is just to inform you of the same. […] We hope you enjoyed shopping at Sify and will come back for more!

Thanking you and assuring you of our best services at all times,
Customer Service @ Sify Shopping

WTF! I hadn’t cancelled anything. When I wrote to say that, I got:

Thank you for contacting Sify Customercare. We are writing to let you know that we have received your mail and it has been allocated tracking number deleted. Should you need to contact us again for followup on particular inquiry, referencing this number will help us to assist you better.

Rest assured that our Customercare team will reply to you within 24 hours.

Thanks again for writing in to Sify Customercare.

And then:

With reference to your mail, we wish to inform you that the order for the item ” Heroes Die” has been cancelled due to non availability of stock. The rest of the titles has been delivered to deleted on 23rd august,2005. Do mail us incase you need further clarifications.
Warm Regards. Customercare@sify
ISO 9001:2000 Certified
Thank you for shopping with Sify!

Note the pathetic grammar. I was getting really pissed at being ‘thanked’ all the time. The mail (gasp!) didn’t clear anything up, so I wrote again, and very politely if I could say so considering my situation:

It’s understandable that you could not deliver an item due to “non-availability” of stock. But I’ve already paid for the book “Heroes Die” via Netbanking. The total order was for five books worth Rs. deleted. I’ve received four books, which are worth Rs. deleted.

So if you cannot deliver the book (Heroes Die), I want a refund. Which comes to Rs. deleted.

Secondly, you could be more clear in your ‘customer-care’ emails. The first mail I got stated that I had cancelled the last item, which I certainly did not.

And lo behold! More annoying prose:

This is with reference to your mail, we wish to inform you that we have forwarded your request to the concerned team and will do the needful.The reference number for your request is deleted. Kindly mention your order number and reference number when you contact us again pertaining to this enquiry. We request you to kindly bear with us in the interim.

Thank you for giving us an oppurtunity to serve you!

Finally something readable after another day:

Thank you for shopping at Sifymall.

We regret to inform you that we will not be able to process order number : deleted as the title ” Heroes Die ” is out of stock. We would therefore be canceling the said title and reversing the charges to your account . You can check the same in your next billing statement. We apologize for the inconvenience caused.

Thank you for giving us an opportunity to serve you.

But there’s only so much politeness someone can bear. Any suggestions on how one can deal with these people without losing one’s sanity?

September 17, 2005

Miscellanea

OK, time to empty my brain a little. I’ve been uncharacteristically lazy recently: usually I’m just a little lazy but I get the job done in the end. Not so much now.

I’m wading through a swarm of assignments that I can’t get started. The project’s languishing. I haven’t even posted in a while. Worst of all, I’m reading less than usual. There’s a lot going on, while I try to appear interested.

OK, starting with philosophy. I’ve decided what my Life Philosophy is to be, which I deduced a posteriori. Note the use of capitals to show importance.

He goes: Do what you want; but when you don’t have a clue about your desires, look at what others around you are doing and do the exact opposite of that; unless that’s too hard, in which case do what everyone else is doing.

I happen to think that’s simple and elegant.

I’ve read 1.5 philosophically inclined books recently. First was Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which I really liked most parts of. But I could not stomach Thoreau’s Walden. Don’t know why, the book bored me to death … probably because I had such high expectations. I wasn’t able to continue reading past the half-way point.

OK, enough philosophical ramblings. I’ll scare people away.

Hey, did I mention that I have a mile of assignments backlogged? Never really outta my head, that.

Thing’s I’ve signed-up to receive updates for:

Foucault’s Pendulum is mind blowing! I’m ~70% done. It’s a book to be read slowly, trying to decipher each and every phrase. Best to keep a thesaurus handy, but as my only thesaurus-esqe tool is Wordnet, and as I read most of it at college, I’m trying to manage without it.

I was looking over Sify’s book catalogue, one of my ways of passing time, and I came across this a book for Rs. 0.86 only. Heh, if the price is not been updated by the time I next shop there, I’ll order it just for the kicks.

I can’t stop drooling over the iPod Nano. Check out a TV ad if you’re not convinced this is the hottest-thing-ever.

I’ve come to realize that I’m as completely self-centred as can be possible. And I just remembered something I told a friend yesterday while chatting:

i consider myself the ‘limit’ of sanity
anyone crazier than me is really crazy

Heh, don’t all of you?

Before I forget, I hate MSN Messenger. Fucking software makes me feel impotent: can’t get it to sign-on. Yesterday it did allow me to login, which was a miracle. I’ve tried everything: un-installing & re-installing, updating, checking firewall rules, stopping the firewall, chanting spells, dancing naked in the rain … everything.

OK, will someone tell me if there is a correct way to use ellipses & em-dashes? I’ve pretty much figured out that you don’t place any space on either side of an dash—like I’m doing now—see? But ellipses confuses the hell outta me. To follow the same rule…or to insert some gratuitous space … that is the question.

I realize that is is the most banal thing I’ve put up on this blog yet, but I can’t help being a geek at whatever strikes my fancy. Recently it’s been punctuation, for Bob knows what reason.

Bored now, so stopping this post. Ciao.

Update: Can’t figure out what this site is. Seems like a weird aggregator (?) of sorts, but could not find an about section on the site.

September 11, 2005

Shows that should be aired here

FireflyBattlestar GalacticaVeronica Mars

I watch a lot of TV. In fact there is not a single show that airs over here that I’ve not seen one episode of—but of course I only continue to watch the good ones.

Shows are different from movies, you get a more relaxed rate of enjoyment if that makes any sense. And the really good shows satisfy you in ways no movie ever could. Unfortunately for me, the fact is that in India most of the shows on TV are old. We’re often at least a couple of seasons behind, many times the show has been taken off the air in the States before we get to see it. I can’t understand why in today’s age, where people can download whatever they want to see as it airs, that the channels continue to delay launching their shows over here. Guys, the globe is supposed to be connected now, if you hear all the marketing speak.

Here are some shows I’d love to see on TV. Any channel executives who came here by mistake can take note.

Well, it’s no surprise that I start off with Firefly. Only 10 episodes aired there, and the DVD has only 14. And I don’t care how they air it over here, could be done as a promotion to the movie or something.

What’s not to like: Whedon, space westerns, great characters, humour, action, et cetera. More people should get to see this gem of a show.

Another show I’d love to see on TV is Battlestar Galactica. The concept itself if great to hear about: read this great article from the NY Times site. Anything more I add will just lower it; that article’s perfect.

These two shows go against the tradition of all those SciFi shows you’ve seen so far, to great effect.

Then there’s Veronica Mars. I gotta admit that the show sounds like it’ll be great to watch. A young girl working as a part-time detective for her dad, at times when shit is piling up all around. This show has some hope of being aired—they can sure market it well.

I usually keep my ear out for any stuff I know I’m gonna like, and I’ve heard a lot of good about this show. So I did what I usually do when I want to check out a show—read the (tran)script of the pilot episode online. Colour me impressed, the show rocks! Now I could be bad and download the episodes and watch it; but you try downloading 7Gb of data on s terrible 40kbps line and tell me how you like it. So I’m just hoping gets aired.

Last of course, I can bitch for all the shows that are currently on TV, not going anywhere. These channels just keep showing the same season again & again, much to my frustration. I have, for example, watched every episode of the first season of Six Feet Under at least three times on TV, but can’t get to watch the second season. There are off-beat shows like Carniv├ále: HBO only aired the first season and conveniently seems to have forgotten to continue it.

Too much to write on this front, but you get the point.

September 08, 2005

Intellectual Exhibitionism

Blogging, v.
(1) Intellectual exhibitionism doing the rounds.
(2) An open confessional.
(3) Anything else you want it to be.

We all do it. I’ll tell you mine if you tell me your’s first… It’s irresistible to show the world what you think; blogging is the easiest way I could find.

It’s a huge rush when people not only agree, but sometimes mirror what you think. It’s a different kind of rush when people don’t agree with you, but care enough to point out why.

For me, blogging has become my huge I-was-there monolith; something to show for these months I’ve scraped through life. Plus most of the times I haven’t got the slightest idea what I’m doing—or why—but putting it down in words helps.

A few of my posts never made it through the text-file stage. Some I scrapped at the last moment possible, just before hitting publish. A few great ones played through my head, perfect in themselves, but I never could re-create them by the time I got around typing them. Some posts sit around for weeks; with me adding stuff here, removing some there, till finally they get dazed and confused enough for me to kill them.

That makes it sound like I’m meticulous about my posting regimen. I’m not. I just choke at the hard parts… I have no idea how I’m faring so far; I don’t read my archives. Someday I will. Someday I’ll probably stop blogging as well, but that day’s far far away.

I do have a lot of stuff I want to write about; stuff that I can’t remember when it’s time to write. I still bemoan the fact that I’ve not written any fiction so far, and I seem to have a block the prevents me from doing so. I’m not thrilled with my writing style (the days I have one that is). And I feel that it has been a fun ride so far…no point in stopping just when the fun’s beginning.

What I should not do is blog any more on blogging, but hey my net connection has been down for the last two days and I’m feeling slightly down about it all. A pat on the back helps in cheering oneself up.

And some brownie points to anyone who finds the one movie reference I’ve made in this one.

Immersive realities.

If you can get along with people, you don’t need a lot. Being friendly at first glance with someone is a gift; half of your work in this world is done once people start liking you. The problem is that most people don’t really get along with others. I’m one of those.

People live their lives alone—even the popular guys. You only live your life through your point of view, and can only guess at what others are feeling. Sometimes you feel so different from those around you that you haven’t even got a clue about what’s going on.

I’m attached to fictional universes: any world which is a setting of a good work of fiction. You see, when you are in some fictional reality, you get to be other people. You can see from some other point of view, feel what someone else feels; the fact that it is a work of fiction doesn’t matter of course.

I believe that fiction is the best tool we have to aid us in understanding others. I can’t really trust anyone who does not like fiction—it’s like we’ll forever be on different frequencies or something.

More than that, immersive realities are a great tool for when you want to understand yourself. You see, at least for someone like me, understanding even my own actions is difficult. But I can gauge my reactions against some character’s life in some distant universe, and know myself a little better.

Hell, sometimes I even think of myself from a third-person point of view just for the kicks of it.

September 03, 2005

Common tech annoyances

This could have been a lot longer, but I cut the post off halfway through writing it. I kinda realized that I’d never stop otherwise. Here it goes:

Stealth Installs.
I hate automatic updates that are performed in the background. Nobody gets a say in what I’m using on my PC.

A few days ago Google updated Google Talk from version 1.0.0.64 to 1.0.0.66 silently. It downloaded the update as I tried to connect, and installed it behind my back. No confirmation, no change log. There’s not even a notice of the change on their site.

When things like this happen, I begin to get suspicious. Especially when they conflict with the said company’s corporate principles.

I repeat: do not ever install something without notifying the user.

DRM.
DRM is evil. Don’t need to say a lot on this subject, others have written at length. Enough said.

There is no such thing as ‘good’ DRM. Just an example of how crazy things are: I hear Windows Vista will not play hi-def videos for you unless you buy some special-DRM-happy-best-thing-in-the-world monitors.

Related to DRM is Trusted Computing [sic]. More evil.

Hiding links, stopping direct links, et cetera.
This is just too annoying. Content on the web is meant to be linked to.

Embedding links, using Javascript to hide link locations, et al will just annoy your site’s visitors. First of all stopping links will render people unable to bookmark your stuff; so no sharing for you.

I hate having to jump through hoops just in order to watch some damn movie’s trailer.

I’m paying for your software, stop with the ads already
It’s infuriating when software keeps promoting itself when you are using.

Hey Sify guys, if you’re listening: why the hell do you need to show the Sify homepage each time a user logs in, when the user is already using Sify?

There are too many offenders to list here. I guess this has something to do with marketing and such, and probably makes sense ‘economically’; but people, show some dignity, won’t you?

September 01, 2005

My Current Firefox™

I customize the hell out of Firefox. So much that I’m thinking of buying an USB memory stick just so that I can use my profile everywhere, i.e. for using Portable Firefox.

First of all there is the bookmarks toolbar hack, as far as I know I’m the only one who does this:

Firefox menu-bar layout

I’ve removed a few menus items, and placed the Bookmarks toolbar items on the menu-bar itself. No need to use a separate toolbar, this saves a lot of screen space.

People should use the Deer Park alpha version, or the get the Firefox 1.5 beta as soon as it ships. This branch is a lot more stable, the alpha feels better than the current released version.

Extensions I can’t live without are:

  • SmoothWheel makes reading huge web-pages fun, and easy on the eyes.

  • Super DragAndGo is another huge continence. You highlight words, and just drag & drop them somewhere on the screen to search on Google. Or drag & drop links to open in new tabs.

  • The usual which I have talked about before, a lot: Web Developer, All-in-One Gestures, Adbock, Live HTTP Headers and Greasemonkey of course.

If there is only one thing you’re going to install, install Greasemonkey, and then head over to greasemonkeyed.com and pick up scripts for your favourite sites. And don’t forget to check out Mark Pilgrim’s greasemonkey scripts.

I’ve tinkered around with the profile for so long that I can’t really remember all that I’ve done. I just take periodic backups just so that I don’t ever have to start from scratch. Actually I’ve cleaned it up quite a bit recently, removed a few extensions and scripts that I didn’t use.

If you have problems with Firefox being too slow or something, the fault almost surely lies in your profile. Here are some instructions to start with.