October 29, 2005

Sleep/Dreams

I’ve been reading up on stuff like sleep cycles—fascinating. Only goes to show the importance of proper sleeping habits, which I surely lack.

There are five stages of sleep. A complete cycle means going through all five uninterrupted. People seem to think that the quality of sleep you get depends on the number of complete cycles you get; waking up groggy is a direct result of waking up in the middle of a cycle. Makes sense, somewhat. The average length of a sleep cycle is around 90 minutes, but you can never be sure.

I’m trying a new way of waking up: setting the alarm at the latest possible time I can wake up. I’ll usually wake up just before that time, naturally. Waking up to a really loud sound is not great for your health—I can tell from experience.

One last thing. Is it weird to dream in the third person? Usually in my dreams, I’m the narrator. It’s like I’m telling a story or something—with an audience of one. My dreams are a continuous soliloquy; the problem is that I just can’t seem to remember ‘em.

October 24, 2005

In the Beginning was the Command Line

Bloody amazing is what it is. Just read:

The group giving away the free tanks only stays alive because it is staffed by volunteers, who are lined up at the edge of the street with bullhorns, trying to draw customers’ attention to this incredible situation. A typical conversation goes something like this:

Hacker with bullhorn: “Save your money! Accept one of our free tanks! It is invulnerable, and can drive across rocks and swamps at ninety miles an hour while getting a hundred miles to the gallon!”

Prospective station wagon buyer: “I know what you say is true…but…er…I don’t know how to maintain a tank!”

Bullhorn: “You don’t know how to maintain a station wagon either!”

Buyer: “But this dealership has mechanics on staff. If something goes wrong with my station wagon, I can take a day off work, bring it here, and pay them to work on it while I sit in the waiting room for hours, listening to elevator music.”

Bullhorn: “But if you accept one of our free tanks we will send volunteers to your house to fix it for free while you sleep!”

Buyer: “Stay away from my house, you freak!”

Bullhorn: “But…”

Buyer: “Can’t you see that everyone is buying station wagons?”

And:

It is obvious, to everyone outside of the United States, that our arch-buzzwords, multiculturalism and diversity, are false fronts that are being used (in many cases unwittingly) to conceal a global trend to eradicate cultural differences. The basic tenet of multiculturalism (or “honoring diversity” or whatever you want to call it) is that people need to stop judging each other-to stop asserting (and, eventually, to stop believing) that this is right and that is wrong, this true and that false, one thing ugly and another thing beautiful, that God exists and has this or that set of qualities.

The lesson most people are taking home from the Twentieth Century is that, in order for a large number of different cultures to coexist peacefully on the globe (or even in a neighborhood) it is necessary for people to suspend judgment in this way. Hence (I would argue) our suspicion of, and hostility towards, all authority figures in modern culture. As David Foster Wallace has explained in his essay “E Unibus Pluram,” this is the fundamental message of television; it is the message that people take home, anyway, after they have steeped in our media long enough. It’s not expressed in these highfalutin terms, of course. It comes through as the presumption that all authority figures—teachers, generals, cops, ministers, politicians—are hypocritical buffoons, and that hip jaded coolness is the only way to be.

October 17, 2005

General tech phobia

The craziness just keeps going on. Just read an article over at CNN that said the our President, the great Abdul Kalam, “expressed concern” about Google Earth. Seems that governments the world over are scared shitless that terrorists are gonna use Google Earth to blow up the world or something.

Nonsense from the article:

“developing countries, which are already in danger of terrorist attacks, have been singularly chosen” and “Kalam, a scientist who guided India’s missile program before becoming president, called for new laws to restrain dissemination of such material.”

This is from a guy that supports Open Source for Bob’s sake! I can’t really put down where this asinine behaviour of every bureaucratic organization stems from.

Wake up you morons. This is the information age. If terrorists want to blow up your parliament house, they will find out where to go. It’s not like the place is in a top-secret zone that no one knows about.

People can use offline maps. People can just ask where the parliament is located. People can just buy off even higher resolution images from some offshore company. People can get intel from other your not-so-friendly neighbours. If they want it, they’ll have it.

Some restrictions are useful of course. But let’s not go overboard and all perform in a Security theatre because you’re afraid of the bogeyman. (Note to self: actually read something that Schneider has written.)

When the hell is all the stupidity gonna stop? Just an estimate would be much appreciated.

Here’s a quote from the Slashdot discussion on this story—which really scares me for some reason.

“As an American I’m comforted by this reminder that most politicians are morons, and that George Bush is not that special.”

October 15, 2005

First.

The gauntlet had been thrown :P

This is my first work of fiction… hopefully it does not suck too much.


“The 63 year old communist wears green striped socks when visiting oil rigs off the coast of Darjeeling.” That is how it started. That was the first strange thing he said. What followed is the stuff of legend of course.

He was just a kid—the anti-prophet. No one knows why or when exactly he started saying un-truths. Pretty soon he didn’t say anything else. Friends and relatives were worried, and they sought help. Which didn’t help.

Don’t know who first noticed it, but soon the everyone at the hospital knew about him. Nothing he said ever was true—nothing. Then the pilgrimages began…

People from all over started asking him to say that they’d be miserable their whole lives or something like that. That never worked, but by then it didn’t matter. Scientists and such sad folk kept telling people that this just because something is false, everything else does not become true by default. Then the psychologists started expounding on the ideas of mass hypnosis, and how we’re all just lemmings after all. And then the philosophers started trying to devise a systematic way to generate such falsehoods, as philosophers are wont to do.

But no one listens to such serious minded talk now—it’s so proletarian. The kid’s old now, and still the people come.

I went to meet him yesterday—had to pass through more security than the current Bob-head of India has. Told him—don’t know why, he never listens to people—that I was going to write about him.

He said, “Fish fly through freezing pools of lava dancing to the beat of your eye-lashes.”

Don’t know what people are so crazy about…

October 13, 2005

A request to readers.

This is something new that I’m trying. People, please co-operate!

I want to better my writing—really. Lately I haven’t been posting as regularly as I used to. That’s just something that happens to me; I freeze when I should be gaining momentum. It’s not that I haven’t written stuff, I have loads of unfinished posts lying around. They’re not as good as they ought to be, I feel.

So to anyone reading this, I ask: tell me what to do. Give me topics to write on, anything arbitrary. I’m at my best when I’m bluffing my way through life, so don’t be shy of including any subject. I want to stop the whirlwind of ideas that is in my head, and instead really write something. But I’ll never do that unless someone helps… I’m passive that way.

Seriously, I’ll write anything. And if I can’t, I’ll pretend that it was never mentioned.

Ball’s in your court now… Charge!

October 12, 2005

Blog subscriptions

You may notice that I used to keep a list of blogs I visit in the sidebar. The list’s pathetically puny: I use my Bloglines account of read stuff. I just added a few blogs there, ’coz I didn’t want to have a mammoth list like many other blogs out there have.

But maintaining it has been no fun at all. When someone links me, do I link them as well? How do I decide which blogs to add there? I wanted to limit myself to 5-6 items there, so I just let the list stagnate as it was for a long time.

I’ve given up on that now. Instead, I keep a list of my ‘public’ Bloglines subscriptions for you to check out. You can even get ’em in OPML form if that’s your drug.

October 10, 2005

Editors & religion.

I’ve grown tired of using SciTE as my default text/code editor. Time for a change: learn to use either Vim or Emacs.

A decent editor is essential if you’re doing any writing work. And I mean an editor—not a formatter. Writing in something like MS Word or OpenOffice.org Writer is atrocious. A warning: please don’t ever mention Notepad to me. Ever. Any programmer who tries to use Notepad to code is either high or is not too bright.

I already know some of Vi, and am not too crazy about it. So am thinking I’ll go with Emacs for now. No comments for the Holy Editor Wars—I’m neutral for now.

Another thing that makes learning Emacs that much more enticing to me is Lisp. Emacs is totally customisable in its own dialect of Lisp, Emacs Lisp. Lisp is a truly beautiful language that I’m just wetting my toes on for now. Any chance to learn some more Lisp is not to be missed.

The dialect I’ll learn properly when I do get around to it will probably be Scheme. Whatever little I’ve seen makes me drool… There’s a free book online if anyone’s interested: Teach Yourself Scheme in Fixnum Days.

October 09, 2005

Some movie reviews

Seen some movies in the last few days I’d like to speak about.

Elephant is ’s take on violence in American high-schools. Pretty gritty to watch, not for the faint-hearted.

My first thought while watching the movie was: wtf are those teens so depressed about? I’d kill to be in a school like that. That place was a palace! I mean how depressed can you get over photography… You should send them over to some Indian school and see how they like it.

Of course, I got over that. You’re never satisfied with what you have. I never am.

Next up I checked out Napoleon Dynamite. Deservedly a cult classic—I thought it was hilarious. Please don’t take this movie too seriously though. Whatever you do, don’t miss the dance scene at the end. Trust me, that is gonna stick in your head for a long time.

Another thing I like is how your main characters here aren’t really ‘well-adjusted’. They aren’t like the other ‘normal’ kids; beats me what they are like. Damn, I’m beginning to analyze. Must stop doing that.

Other than that, I did see Matrix Revolutions again recently, courtesy HBO. I have a love-hate relationship with the triology. Loved the first movie, went crazy after checking out the second one. Spent six months wildly speculating what was gonna happen before watching the third—and came out shell shocked after watching it. For months I was in denial: I thought the movie sucked big time but couldn’t bring myself to admitting that.

Finally after watching it again now, I can say that that the movie’s not that bad actually. It just didn’t live up to my expectations—huge. I doubt anything would have.

Google Reader

Google Reader screenshot

It’s disappointing to say the least. Google Reader it seems tries to mimic Gmail’s interface, which won’t work in a feed reader anyway, and does so badly.

I’m a fan of Bloglinesriver-of-news format—you get all your new items one after other in a big-damn-page. I don’t like reading each item individually—when I do wanna do that, I just open the perma-link in a new tab and read it there. This is another reason I’m not sure I’ll like Feedlounge much…

Google Reader’s AJAXy interface is nice, but not to my taste. And it seems somehow incomplete.

Google’s recent releases had me confused for some time. Now I realize that there’s plan to them, and there is no plan. Looks like most of their new releases are private projects of Google employees that Google though were good enough to be public or something. Time will tell whether this strategy of doing everything is gonna work out.

October 07, 2005

Et tu, Amazoné?

I tell ya, Amazon.com is a fucking tease. I made a wishlist of stuff I can’t afford, just for kicks. Now every time I see an Amazon page, I get an ad with products in my wishlist on the side. I swear, it’s taunting me for my financial incapacity at present.

I should stay logged-off, I know. But logging-in when I need to is such a chore.

TFT

Bye bye Samtron 55V, hello LG L1515S. I’ve waited a long time for ya.

October 04, 2005

365 tomorrows

I’ve subscribed to the 365 tomorrows feed, which gives me a brand new short story everyday. Here are some of my favourites so far:

I’m really beginning to like this style of speculative fiction. I had planned to describe the stories here, but they’re really short. Just read ’em yourselves.

October 03, 2005

What I don’t understand.

I don’t understand which is worse—that I never get exactly what I want at first, or that I always end up getting what I wanted in the end. Karma’s a bitch.

I don’t understand why people persist in taking sides on issues—why go for Black & White when there are infinite shades of gray to pick from. Think big.

I don’t understand why individuality is so under-rated—and why people who lament the lack of initiative shown by others never seem to show any themselves. Me included.

I don’t understand why technology seems to create so many problems—when it is meant to solve them all. Shit happens.

I don’t understand is why every generation thinks that the world is going to hell—and whether it really is getting much worse than before this time around. Optimists don’t count.

I don’t understand money-matters—I can only think in terms of ‘things’ and a bank-balance is too abstract for me. Abstractions are lossy, and soon you end up with nothing at all.

I don’t understand women—nor do I know any man that does. Nor would I try too hard at this.

I don’t understand why life always seems so pointless—but almost never meaningless. This one has me confused in all sorts of ways.


This was just from five minutes worth of pondering. I could write a huge essay-type post on each, but have neither the time nor the inclination to do so.

October 02, 2005

Sin City

I finally saw Sin City yesterday at Geo’s. It was as good as I expected it to be, maybe even better.

As you probably know, the movie’s based on Frank Miller’s Sin City graphic novels—which I plan to get my hands on someday. Not for the light-hearted, and especially not for people who take things literally, this movie will take you through a ride you’ll never forget.

The movie tells three different tales, somewhat intertwined. Starting off with Marv/Goldie, the story I liked best:

Marv: This is blood for blood and by the gallon. These are the old days, the bad days, the all-or-nothing days. They’re back! There’s no choice left. And I’m ready for war.

Then on to Dwight/Gail:

Dwight: The Valkyrie at my side is shouting and laughing with the pure, hateful, bloodthirsty joy of the slaughter… and so am I.

And finally Hartigan/Nancy:

John Hartigan: And after I pull off that miracle, maybe I’ll go punch out God.

There’s more of course. This is cult stuff here—nothing I can explain in a page. Nearly every line delivered in this movie sticks with ya, every damn line is quotable. Every scene you see is perfect. Everything’s slick as hell. It really can’t get much better than this.

Apologies for lack of content in this post, I'm sleep-depraved.

OK, a note at the end which has nothing to do with the movie. I was sick of waiting for this movie to launch in India, which it never did. I’ve waited 3-4 months before each LotR flick aired in India, and I know how hard the temptation is to just watch a pirated version of some movie badly I wanna watch. The only problem I have with pirated copies is that nothing beats watching a new movie on the big screen. I don’t want to be spoiled for a great movie by watching a crappy quality rip on my PC. I can usually hold out till it releases, but it’s getting harder. You can’t really expect fans to be this patient.

October 01, 2005

Nerdy humour

You can be sure I’m bored when I begin putting up quotes here. Here goes:

  • Cannot find reality.sys. Universe halted.
  • Coffee.exe Missing—Insert Cup and Press Any Key
  • Computers make very fast, very accurate mistakes.
  • 2 + 2 = 5 for extremely large values of 2.
  • C:\WINDOWS C:\WINDOWS\GO C:\PC\CRAWL
  • C:\> Bad command or file name! Go stand in the corner.
  • Bad command. Bad, bad command! Sit! Stay! Staaay…
  • … File not found. Should I fake it? (Y/N)
  • Smash forehead on keyboard to continue…
  • Press any key… no, no, no, NOT THAT ONE!
  • Real programmers don’t document. If it was hard to write, it should be hard to understand.
  • Black holes are where God divided by zero.

I picked all of these up from a page ages ago, don’t remember from where through. Found them in a text file somewhere among my assorted documents today—gave me quite a laugh.