September 06, 2006

So long, and thanks for all the …

I’m moving off blogspot now. Got myself one of those domain thingys. Check out simulacra.in for more.

Blogger’s been really good to me. I’ve had a lot of fun here, with surprisingly few annoyances. I’ve got a lot of plans for simulacra, so lets see how that goes.

This old page will remain here, I think. For now.

September 01, 2006

Feelin’ fine.

Something I just realized today—I’m good. Don’t know exactly when, but I’ve found out that my life does not exactly suck.

I’m doing pretty much what I want to do. It’s not too hard, not is it too easy. I get tons of free time. I’m even getting paid for it!

Almost everything has been going my way for the past few months. I mostly like the people I’m around.

Don’t worry though, I’m not turning into an optimistic prick anytime soon. But I do feel pretty damn fine right now. That count for somethin’.

August 30, 2006

Baudolino

I love Umberto Eco, but I don’t think I’ll be reading any other post-modernish books anytime soon.

Baudolino is truly a great book to read. Alas, I have no energy left to write a fitting few paragraphs here.

“Concern with pleasing humans causes the loss of all spiritual growth.”

“Yes, I know, it’s not the truth, but in a great history little truths can be altered so that the greater truth emerges.”

August 27, 2006

Greatness

I’m am not destined for greatness. Nor do I aim to achieve any form of greatness. I’ve never tried to be really good at anything I do … I always aim to be, quoting Gattaca here, ‘as good as any, better than most’.

Competition drives me to better myself, and only to a certain limit. If it gets too hot, I’ll promptly give up and not feel sorry for it. I’ve never had the drive to become the ‘best’ at anything.

I perform best when I know I can beat the game. I like challenges, but not ones that deserve all my attention. I can always find other interesting things to do, one aspect of my life should not occupy all my time.

Guess I’ll never turn out to be a workaholic. Then again, I won’t ever be the top guy at anything as well. I don’t give a damn.

Still, watching someone at their best leaves me feeling a mixture of awe and disdain.

August 25, 2006

Got a shock today...

I read a lot as it is. Nice bug.

August 19, 2006

The Lonely Shepherd

Amazing music by Gheorghe Zamfir. I recognised this song from the Kill Bill soundtrack.

Blogger beta.

I’m on Blogger beta right now. Was sick of the old template, and new features are always fun to test out. What’s funny is that I’ve pretty much re-created my old template again, and it took me just fifteen minutes to do it.

With this launch, Blogger can now at least hope to compete with Wordpress.com. I’m not blogging much lately, and hopefully I won’t stay here much longer. Expect some news in a month or so. Hopefully.

Java—Second impressions

Now that I’ve had someone who actually knows Java teaching it to me, it’s time to re-think. Java is both not as bad, and much worse, then what I thought it would be.

I think I can happily keep churning out Java code as long as I’m going to get paid for it. The worst thing about Java is that it’s boring. Not challenging at all. Practically too easy, if you’re a patient man. Nothing exciting ever happens in Java-land. No cool shortcuts. And it’s way to verbose for my taste.

I understand why Java is so damn popular: it’s designed for enterprise use. I don’t think there’s any way possible to make generic enterprise applications interesting.

Working for a company—not that I’ve started work mind you—is damn impersonal. Everyone keeps talking about the necessities of good communication skills, team work and the such; but the work itself is not something you’d get attached to. Which strikes me as strange: I work best when I personally care about the results, not just for money.

“It’s business, not personal” is the worst thing anybody can say to me. Java seems to literally scream that out.

Still, not as bad as I thought it’d be.

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August 16, 2006

Annoyances: False smiles

I hate it when people give me false smiles, when the pretend to be polite. Especially the management-type people. Don’t know why, but it always creeps me out.

Forcing oneself to behave pleasantly makes it even more unpleasant on the others. I would rather spend a day with a sullen old curmudgeon then a hour with some one who forces himself to be up-beat.

I don’t have anything against people who are genuinely up-beat. I love ’em. They’re energising to be with. But please, don’t force it.

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August 12, 2006

Apologies

I apologise for the lack of posts here. Not that having a like is something to apologise for, but I’d made a personal commitment to post more which I don’t seem to be able to honour. Plus the fact that I’ve had plans for so many good ‘essay-like’ posts that I have not been able to materialize.

I started my technical training recently. It’s a change from college, to say the least. I’m used to my time being my own, and doing things in the manner and speed I want, that having a strict schedule’s been quite a shock. My body’s not adjusted to the routine yet, and I feel tired when I’m not in-charge of my life.

I’ve had quite a few wonderful chats (both off-line and online) with friends in the last week. Good ideas have occurred to me this week. Plans have been laid down sub-consciously that I’m not even aware of. Life is changing faster than I can comprehend.

And I’ve already forgotten most of it. I’ve a terrible memory for specifics. I remember that I had a great conversation with so-and-so person about some vague topic, but for the life of me I can’t recall anything specific about it. At least with online chats, I can keep a history (not that I ever read my logs). Remembrance comes very hard to me. I may understand something, have made a decision about some matter, but will promptly forget it later until the time I need to recall that. When I really need some details, I can dig them up somehow—otherwise me trying to pick my own brain is hopeless.

I’ve even considered keeping a thought journal, but that seems too weird even for me. Blogging seem natural, but writing my thoughts down privately somehow seems to be dis-tasteful.

Of course, when I’m not getting bored with technical stuff I already know, being intrigued with technical stuff I hadn’t thought of, trying pathetically to socialize a little (I do take advice, though it is quite a rare occurrence), or having a terrible commute to ’n’ fro’ the training centre, I’m reading (what else?). Guess that does not leave much time for anything else.

Still, things are only bound to get better from now on.

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August 06, 2006

Cryptonomicon

This book rocks. I’m going to have ta buy the Baroque Cycle soon.

Cryptonomicon defies classification—just how I like my books. You can find elements of cyberpunk, historical fiction, SciFi, spy stories, war stories, love stories and the gods know what else here. I’m not gonna try and list ’em all.

The story runs simultaneously in two timelines, with multiple POVs in each period—endless fun. Foreshadowing, aftshadowing, whatever you wanna call it—each chapter blends very nicely with those around it.

I love the way Neal Stephenson’s explained technical stuff here. Any non-technocrat should be able to ‘get’ the grizzly details.

At times the serious-ness and paranoia shown by some of the characters lightens the mood, other times it’s quite disturbing. Particularly effective are the descriptions of the ‘lawsuit culture’ and the lengths the characters go in order to ‘enhance shareholder value’.

No use trying to describe the myriad plot lines, and any attempt to simplify and explain the basic plot will not do justice to the book.

Will leave you with some choice quotations:

Randy was forever telling people, without rancor, that they were full of shit. That was the only way to get anything done in hacking. No one took it personally.

Charlene’s crowd most definitely did take it personally. It wasn’t being told that they were wrong that offended them, though—it was the underlying assumption that a person could be right or wrong about anything.

One evening when Avi and his family had been over for dinner, Randy had said, “I’m the beard, Avi’s the suit,” as a way of explaining their business relationship, and from that point Charlene had been off and running. Charlene has recently finished a scholarly article, deconstructing beards.

Chester’s eyebrows go up. Amy glances out the window; her hair, skin, and clothes take on a pronounced reddish tinge from Doppler effect as she drops out of the conversation at relativistic velocity.

“You know what this is? It’s one of those men-are-from-mars, women-are-from-venus things.”
“I have not heard of this phrase but I understand immediately what you are saying.”
“It’s one of those American books where once you’re heard the title you don’t even need to read it,” Randy says.
“Then I won’t.”

August 04, 2006

Another try.

I’m not getting much better at writing a haiku, but what the hell.

Plans change. Or come un—
done. The winds of change do provide
delicious serendipity.

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July 30, 2006

Smart(er) spam

Gmail’s filtering rocks, but today I got a spam mail that got through to my Inbox. Spammers are getting smart. Just look at this:

Spam

First of all, they’re sending their messages via frikkin’ image attachments. I don’t think anyone’s gonna develop technology to filter image-based spam soon.

And secondly—this is just a hunch mind you—notice the message text. Innocuous looking, easy to get through the filters. I think there’s gotta be some hidden agenda here. Bayesian Classification is what most email filters are based on—and if you train your filter on such messages, there’re bound to be more false positives. This sucks.

Time to start looking for tougher email filters. Maybe go for a white-list approach.

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Work

Uh, new rule: no blogging about work. I’ll try not to. Really.

This is for no particular reason. I’ve always had clear partitions between different aspects of my life. It’s simpler to deal with disconnected things.

Ranting about college was fun—whining about work will not definitely not be.

It’s not like I have any shortage of topics to write about as it is.

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July 28, 2006

New in Google Talk: Voicemail and File transfers

Google has selectively updated Talk on some accounts. The new beta supports Voicemail and File transfers, with some other minor UI tweaks. If your version is not updated, download the beta manually.

Voicemail seems about to be integrated into Gmail too. Clicking on the Voicemail icon on talk sends you to a voicemail label on Gmail. The label does not (yet) show up by default, you have to visit it manually.

This’ll be really cool if you can check voice messages even when you don’t have the client running.

July 22, 2006

Flatlife

Jonas Geirnaert graduation project “FLATLIFE” (2004), selected for Short Films in Competition at the Cannes Film Festival 2004.

Don’t miss watching this.

July 21, 2006

IM Hell!

IM Hell

I can’t handle talking to two people simultaneously, let alone five! Multitasking is not for me.

July 17, 2006

Blogspot banned in India?

I’ve always felt that the Indian government is stupid, but I never realized how stupid they can really be.

It seems that some shadowy government body has decided to ban a few, or possible all blogs hosted at blogspot.com… Whether this is intentional or not, all blogspot blogs are not accessible from India.

Nikhil was the first one I knew who had this problem. Since then, many people have noticed the same. Some have talked to government officials. I personally didn’t have any problems accessing mine or any other blog, until this evening. It seems that Sify has joined in the fray, and has started the blockages too.

Frankly, I’m pissed. I’m betting on this being a temporary problem, caused mostly due to some miscommunication. We Indians have never been too big on open-ness, but I still can’t imagine something like this being permanent. I’m not too good at political rants, so allow me to give you all a (temporary) solution.

Tor is an anonymous-browsing network, which utilizes onion routing if I’m not wrong. Seemingly makes it impossible to block sites.

The setup is really simple, read the instructions. And viola:

Without Tor:

With Tor:

It’s a little slow, but I can’t complain of that.

Now someone please send me some ‘pre-fabricated’ mails I can fire off to Sify Customer Care and whatever Indian government agency is responsible for this. I’m no good at writing those myself.

July 14, 2006

Opinions

Edited version of a chat I had with Sunil. My messages only:

Most people frame opinions just to mirror what others are thinking; to fit in, that is.

Some decide what they want to believe, and then try and figure out some factual basis to support their opinions.

Almost no body ever frames an opinion after getting the relevant facts… at least not about anything important.

Only difference is, I know my opinions are pointless… So I never try to justify them.

Well, he said he didn’t believe me. So:

Too bad … that’s my cynical opinion.

Based on years of observation :P

This drivel was prompted by him forwarding to me a mail conversation he had with guy talking about all sorts of heavy stuff: religious intolerance and all that. After the recent blasts. Trying to talk sense into the religious zealot.

Of course I started off quoting one of the classics of the internets:

Never argue with idiots they drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience.

Then followed all of the above. It was a fun conversation for five minutes. Poor guy, he stood up for what he believed in, and I give him crap for it :)

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July 12, 2006

Chess

I’m currently lost. FICS does that to people.

I wake up. Play a couple of games. Surf for a while. Play some more. Eat. Sleep. And then play s’more.

From the site:

The Free Internet Chess Server, with over 150000 registered users, is one of the oldest and one of the largest internet chess servers. Whether serious with your chess or just looking for the occasional game, whether looking for another player or eager to challenge a strong computer, whether you like a blitz chess or you are fond of one of the many variants, here you can play chess over the internet for free.

My chess client of choice for now is BabasChess.

My ratings are:

Category   rating     RD      win    loss    draw   total
Blitz      1141    137.3       3       5       1       9
Standard   1330    107.6       5       7       1      13

RD = Ratings Deviation.

This is the most telling stat:

% of life online:  20.6  (since Sun Jul  9, 23:32 PDT 2006)

I’ve been online there for 10 hours, 17 minutes since registration. Note to self: need to got a life.

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the show

I’m addicted to the show with zefrank. The only podcast/online show I watch.

Today’s show was brilliant. Transcript via the wiki:

Hungry Hippo licks Aunt JEmima [psych] writes, “Are you ever gonna break into song again? Are you running out of ideas?” Hungry Hippo licks Aunt JEmima, that’s a good question. I run out of ideas every day! Each day I live in mortal fear that I’ve used up the last idea that’ll ever come to me. If you don’t wanna run out of ideas the best thing to do is not to execute them. You can tell yourself that you don’t have the time or resources to do ’em right. Then they stay around in your head like brain crack. No matter how bad things get, at least you have those good ideas that you’ll get to later.

Some people get addicted to that brain crack. And the longer they wait, the more they convince themselves of how perfectly that idea should be executed. And they imagine it on a beautiful platter with glitter and rose petals. And everyone’s clapping for them. But the, but the, but the, but the bummer is most ideas kinda suck when you do ‘em. And no matter how much you plan you still have to do something for the first time. And you’re almost guaranteed the first time you do something that it’ll blow. But somebody who does something bad three times still has three times the experience of that other person who’s still dreaming of all the applause. When I get an idea, even a bad one, I try to get it out into the world as fast as possible, ‘cause I certainly don’t want to be addicted to brain crack.

July 11, 2006

Blasts.

First there were the heavy rains. Then there was some minor rioting. And now a series of bomb blasts. Mumbai’s in for it right now.

Check out Vantage Point for mostly live updates on the situation. Or you can watch the news. CNN-IBN’s site seems to be down though.

Phone networks are jammed-tight. Nothing works. No cellphones, no landlines. There was some footage shown outside Khar station: all blast survivors, bloodied and wounded, with no help on the way it seems, trying to call their loved ones. And shaking their heads when they couldn’t.

There’s a theory going around that the government’s blocked all calls: ostensively to avoid spreading rumours. How, by inducing more panic? Sounds like what these idiots in power could actually do.

The net’s still on. That’s a mercy.

July 10, 2006

Ecstatic martyrs

There’s no type of person more vile than an ecstatic martyr.

The type of person I’m talking about:

  • Someone who has a huge martyr complex.
  • Someone who collects old wounds and resentments, imagines slights, and has a paranoid ‘they’re out to get me’ complex.
  • Someone who just won’t let go.
  • Someone who needs others to feel for them, pity them or hate them, anything at all.
  • Someone who gets all glassy-eyed and ecstatic when sharing all that’s been done to them.

Being ecstatic is not being happy. It’s a high, and it’s addictive. These people are like junkies for others’ pity.

I just can’t stand these morons.

July 06, 2006

World Cup Predictions

What I think will happen1.

  • Germany wins against Portugal on Saturday.
  • Italy wins the cup on Sunday.

France is a good team, but I’m pretty much certain that they can’t win against Italy. Some more predictions:

  • Zidane will be magnificent in the final, but to no avail. Italy’s defense (especially Cannavaro, and Nesta if he’s fit) will not allow him any space.
  • France will probably score first, and it’ll be because of Franck Ribéry. The man can fly I tell you.
  • Totti will be terrible, he’ll be substituted in the second-half.
  • Italy’ll come from behind and score in the second half. Expect someone unlikely to equalize, Gattuso maybe.
  • Extra time: expect a few good saves by Buffon, and then an Italian goal, maybe by Pirlo or Luca Toni.

Now if all this turns out to be right, I should switch careers and become a full-time prophet.

  1. No guarantees.

July 01, 2006

Some YouTube vids for ya.

I’m not embedding any videos here, you can as well click on the links and see ’em for yourselves.

First of all, have you checked any of Billy Collins’ poems? I’m not much of a verse man, but I do like the few of his poems that I’ve read. Without further ado, watch: Forgetfulness and The Dead. This is him reading those two poems with some wonderful animation thrown in for fun.

All Monty Python fans are in for a treat. YouTube has many Python sketches. My favourites: The Dead Parrot Sketch and The Four Yorkshiremen Sketch.

OK, I’ll be running through the rest quickly.

That should keep ya all busy for some time.

PS: To d’load those videos, go over to KeepVid. To play d’loded files, use VLC. When VLC does not work, use the FLV Player.

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June 27, 2006

Apt.

It’s raining, I’m bored and have no idea what to do next.

Can any image be more apt?

New Books this June

Had placed two major orders this month.

At Sify:

At Fabmall:

Fabmall was the winner in this round. It’s not as cheap as Sify, but has a better range of books. Service seems better. The books’ status was updated often, and accurately.

Plus I got 10% cashback from Fabmall as I paid via HDFC. So it works out to around the same price-wise.

OK, back to reading.

Tata Indicom saga…

I’ve been tired of Sify for a while, so when I got a call from a Tata Indicom representative advertising their ‘broadband’ connections, I decided to switch. Ongoing post, will keep updating as new info comes in.

June 20th:
The guy came over, we chatted for a while. I’m getting a one month 64kbps package for Rs. 700, including installation charges. Will try it for a month, if it’s not any good I can always switch back.

I hate paying by cheques (that’s the right spelling, right?). And why the hell did he ask for a copy of my phone/electricity bill as proof of residence? I can see I live here for himself. Plus the idiot could not believe I didn’t have a cell phone. Seriously.

Was promised the connection within 5 days. Right.

June 22nd:
My Sify package expired. Got a call asking for renewal. Told them I’m going to be out of town for a month, don’t need the net.

Will surf via proxy connections from friends. Not the best way to surf, but the only other alternative is MTNL dial-up, i.e. there’s no other alternative.

June 26th:
Am getting tired of using proxies, still no Tata Indicom connection. Got another call from Sify asking whether I want to renew my package, again told them off. Called the Tata Indicom guy (TIG from now on), he said that it’d be there by the ’morrow.

June 27th:
Nothing. Called TIG, said it’ll be done by today evening. Will see.

Evening 18:30:
I was willing to let the experiment continue for a few more days, but my folks here got pissed. After a couple of rounds screaming on the phone, we’ve decided that Tata is not worth the wait. Luckily, they didn’t deposit the cheque yet, so I’ve just blocked it’s payment. Will keep using Sify until something saner comes along (Airtel’s not available here, MTNL’s plans suck).

June 24, 2006

Sight

Huh. My eyesight has improved. Didn’’t know that it could. Updated my glasses, and presto: less headaches.

Was thinking of getting contact lenses, but have put that off for now. Lets see whether my vision keeps on spontaneously improving.

June 18, 2006

Annoyances part 2: Customer Support and Plain English

Customer support sucks. It’s the mythical universal constant: no matter which company you’re talking to, or how, customer support just plain sucks. It does not matter whether you’re using chat, email or the phone. I haven’t had a pleasant experience yet.

I hate PR-speak and false politeness. Here’s something managers don’t get: when I’m using customer support, I’m already a customer! You don’t need to advertise any more. Get it? The only result more whining will give you is that I’ll be too annoyed to use your shop again.

Here’s a recent transcript of a chat I’ve had with a Sify representative. Actually, this is one of my best experiences. Judge for yourselves how bad the really bad chats have been. BTW, CSR=Customer Support Rep.

CSR: Chat request accepted:
CSR: Good Evening
Me: Hi
CSR: How may i assist you?
Me: About my order: big damn number
CSR: Please be online
Me: I had sent an enquiry earlier too, enquiry numbner: slightly smaller number
… time passes …
Me: Hello?
… more time passes …
CSR: Please stay online
… even more time passes …
CSR: Thanks for being online
CSR: You have placed an order for “DARKNESS THAT COMES BEFORE”
Me: Ya
Me: When is that book going to be delivered?
CSR: Your order is in process and the same will be delivered to you at the earliest
… wtf? …
Me: Can you give me an estimate of how long it will take?
Me: Some definate date… will it take a week, a month?
… a lot of time passes …
CSR: It will be deliver to the recipient by next week
Me: OK Thanks for the info.

Notice the stock phrases used. All right, you probably won’t notice. I’ve chatted with Sify enough times to know that every rep. uses the same phrases. Each and every damn time. Seems they hire people who can’t type, or don’t trust enough to type well. There’re probably some scripts running to handle common replies.

Notice the nonsensical sentences. “Your order is in process and the same will be delivered to you at the earliest” WTF! I knew that. “It will be deliver to the recipient by next week”: I can’t even begin to describe just how wrong that sentence is. I give up.

This was one of my best chats ever. The others made me want to physically hurt someone. Please, just reply to me in plain English. Don’t use the third-person point-of-view. Even bots talk better than this.

Of course, I can always be happy that I didn’t have to face this.

June 16, 2006

Annoyances part 1: Stickers

This post shall, I think, be a series on some little annoyances that really piss me off. ’Tis the little things in life, as they say, that get you in the end.

One thing that bugs me a lot—and I’m sure that I’ll be looking like a real book nerd now, but I don’t care—is book sellers putting little stickers on books I buy. You know, to show the price or put a barcode or just for proclaiming the company name. Idiots.

Putting up a sticker with your own barcode and ISBN over where the book already has it’s barcode, and the same ISBN printed, is just stupid. And when there’s a whole set of stickers on the back of a book showing which distributor bought it, which seller sold it and every stop the book’s been to in between, I get mad enough to almost put off buying a book I want.

I hate those things. I tried to remove a few once: it left such a sticky mess on the back of a great book that it felt weird holding the book to read. Dust and all sorts of unsavoury stuff set up home on the residue.

A good book is a work of art, and most people just don’t get this. And putting a sticker on the front cover is an even greater sin.

I was browsing through the Oxford book store yesterday—just browsing, had not money to buy anything—and I came across a gorgeous copy of Arthur and George. Just look at it:

Great cover, excellent quality paper and binding. Cool typography. But of course they could not sell that. They had a huge sticker proclaiming some discount applied up front, around ¼ the size of the book. Hideous.

I may be a pedant, and this rant is without a doubt pointless, but I just can’t stand such things.

Bluebird

Woke up today, and decided to watch some television for a change. Well, I got lucky and got a chance to see one of the most beautiful movies ever made.

Bluebird is the first Dutch movie I’ve seen, and if it’s in any way representative of Dutch cinema, then we’re all missing out. Just watch it.

This is the reason I love Zee Studio. It keeps showing such nice little movies, while the other channels compete to show the Next Big Thing.

June 14, 2006

Quotes

Here’s my new email sig:

“There are two motives for reading a book: one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it.”—Bertrand Russell

I’ve yet to read any of his books, but I seem to keep quoting him at every oppurtunity. About time I should rectify that…

Of course, my old sig was:

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”—Groucho Marx

Damn, that quote still makes me laugh.

Oh, and I came upon this Vonnegut gem via chromatius

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.”—Kurt Vonnegut

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June 12, 2006

American Gods

Imagine that all the gods that people have ever believed in are real. Gods live, die and do whatever the hell it is that gods do. Now imagine what happens to gods of immigrant people, who bring their own beliefs and gods along with them to their new homes. What happens to gods when people stop believing in them? How do they cope with change? What happens when new and old gods make war on each other?

American Gods asks all these questions and more. We follow an ex-con named Shadow through all this bizarre-ness. The book is a psychedelic road-trip, a grim horror/love story and a history lesson all in one.

Neil Gaiman seems like a specialist of this mixed-genrè. Will have to read more of his books.

June 09, 2006

Miscellanea

Installed the latest CVS version of Emacs via EmacsW32. It rocks… Cleartype is working properly as well. Just need to get spell-check working now.

Ordered a few more books, from Fabmall this time. I’m burning through all the Indian online-shopping sites… Will see how this one fares.

Work may not start on 15th June after all. It’s all very confusing. We’ll just have to wait and see.

The World Cup’s starting. Am even thinking of watching a few games… Football is better than most other sports: at least I can conjure-up a slight interest.

Am thinking of getting contact lenses. Have got bored wearing specs for so long, and I think lenses provide a better field-of-vision.

co.mments is quite useful. Do give it a try.

I’ve only just discovered the joys of Firefox Bookmark keywords. No more mouse!

Slashdot re-designs. I quite like the look: ’tis a mixture of the old and the new.

Next up in the reading list: The Demolished Man, Shantaram and The Historian.

The Indian stock market is going haywire. I don’t follow stocks: financial stuff just does not hold my attention. Even so, I can see that things are going amiss. Here’s a sparkline for the last month’s activity:

12,514 BSE Sensex Sparkline 9,810

OK, I confess, I just added the stock part to insert the fancy graphic. Was bored you see…

June 08, 2006

A Song of Ice and Fire

Wow. Just wow. I’m stunned, turned into a blabbering idiot when it comes to describing these books. I’m just gonna say that George R. R. Martin’s series is as good as Tolkien’s.

Read the first three books. A Game of Thrones introduces us to these wonderful characters. A Clash of Kings goes farther, shows conflict, with five contenders battling it out for a single throne. Often with words instead of swords. A Storm of Swords goes even farther, I wouldn’t have believed it. You see betrayal and death, previously villainous characters turn sympathetic. Out heroes are scattered and clueless.

OK, I shouldn’t have tried to describe the first three books in a paragraph. Can’t be done.

A Feast for Crows is the next book: ’twas published last year. But the paperback’s only going to be out near September-end. Damn, I can’t wait. Must resist Googling for spoilers.

A Dance with Dragons is the fifth book, should be out February 2007.

June 03, 2006

A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones cover

Damn! I’m not going to be around here for long, gotta run and start reading book two…

A Game of Thrones is a book for SFF lovers. If your only complaint about LotR was that it was too short, drop whatever you’re doing and pick up this masterpiece. Fly, you fools! Winter is coming.

June 01, 2006

Finiš

It’s done. Over. Finiš.

The curtain closes. One door’s closed, the other’s about to open.

This just in: the final chapter’s read, the season’s ended. The next-in-the-series is about to be released.

The bell’s rung. Checkered flags have been waved.

This is the pause before the plunge. The storm’s calm prelude. The hurricane’s eye. Or was it the tiger’s?

The fat lady’s sung. The milk’s been spill’d.

The eddies are in the space time continuum.

There are snakes on the motherfuckin’ plane.

May 31, 2006

Rains!

This is the first time I remember it raining this heavily in May. I love the rains—this is the best weather for reading. And thinking.

I love that one day it’s unbearable hot, and it rains the next day and the temperature becomes just perfect.

I love overcast days. Don’t know why people find them depressing. Clear skies are nice, but without some darkness now and then they’d soon turn pointless.

The only time I don’t like when it rains is when I’m going out somewhere. I don’t mind it raining when I’m coming back home—it’s refreshing. But when you’re gonna be out for a whole day, being wet equals being miserable. But I don’t mind it that much really… It’s a minor inconvenience that I’d gladly bear.

Heck, I even like the way my net connection is gonna be screwed for the next few months—more time for reading.

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May 30, 2006

15th June!

I was given to know that I’d be starting work on 27th July. Imagine my surprise when I got the news today evening that I’d be almost surely joining work on June 15th…

That’s only two weeks away! Finally some excitement. I’m all a-buzz with plans on how I’m going to spend what may as well be my last two weeks of freedom, for a while at least. I’ve got plans! It’s been so long since I was excited enough to make plans, I’d forgotten how much fun they are.

I’m going to be reading. Watching movies. Meeting friends. Hanging out with my sis. Did I mention reading?

On other news, Indiatimes does not have the first two books of A Song of Fire and Ice series. I got the third. I can’t read it till I get the first two anyway. I’m pissed, had to order them off Sify today. Who knows how long they’ll take to deliver now. If they do.

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Column Width Bookmarklet

I hate it when some article I’m reading fills the whole screen. It’s just too hard on my eyes to read a huge web page that uses my entire 1024 pixel wide screen.

So I wrote a bookmarklet for doing this:

Before:

After:

Just drag the ColumnWidth bookmarket to your links toolbar. Click on it when you’re reading something big. Works best with clean, mostly textual pages. No guarantees. Only tested on Firefox: may or may not work on other browsers.

It just adds a 225px right & left margin to the page. Works for me, others could customize it for their taste.

Update: Credit where credit is due… I forgot to mention that this bookmarklet is a modified version of the del.icio.us Prettifier script. And I used the Bookmarklet Builder as well.

The End of Eternity

That’s how long engineering’s felt like lately. I only had to bear three years, can’t imagine what those who’ve lasted through the entire four years feel like.

The last exam’s on the 1st of June. Then it’s all over. I’m supposed to feel all excited about my future and all that. I just can’t. The feeling’s shared by all my friends. Here’s an example chat with Sunil just this morning:

Sunil: last exam. Has it hit you yet?
Me: Engineering has left me so jaded that it’s going to be the most bland end-of-exams celebration ever.
Sunil: I am as enthusiastic as I would be at a funeral.

I start work on 27th July. Now that should be interesting for a change. Just don’t know what I’m going to be doing till then… Reading I guess.

May 29, 2006

Bon Echo

Firefox 2.0 is proceeding rather nicely. I’ve switched to using the Alpha builds exclusively… Bon Echo Alpha 3 was released this week and I must say that it’s rather nice. Really stable for an alpha version.

There are several improvements over Firefox 1.5. Some tabbed browsing tweaks, inline spell check, a search engine plugin manager (finally!). SessionSaver, or something akin to it, is integrated into the default build, so whenever your browser crashes, you can just continue surfing the same sites. Read about the new features and bug fixes in detail over at the Burning Edge.

All my extensions worked fine after I bumped up their version numbers.

Overall, I’m feeling rather good about this alpha. People who don’t want to play around with (potentially) unstable software are better off waiting at least until the 2.0 release candidate builds are out…

May 25, 2006

Towel Day

Today’s towel day… Don’t leave home without one :)

“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has a few things to say on the subject of towels. A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value—you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you—daft as a brush, but very, very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough. More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag [non-hitch hiker] discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might accidentally have ‘lost’. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.”

May 23, 2006

The Handmaid’s Tale

There’s a grand tradition of dystopian novels: Nineteen Eighty-Four, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World et al.

1984, for me, is, and always will be, the defining novel for the genre. But Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale is a close second.

It’s quite close to 1984 if you think about it. It’s got many of the same elements: a screwed-up society, mass brainwashing (religion in this case), perverse sexuality, and most importantly, they both freaked me out.

Both books set up systems in which the victims themselves willingly bring about their own downfall. That’s scary as hell. Still, The Handmaid’s Tale at least ends in an optimistic note. 1984 won’t even give you that.

The Handmaid’s Tale is considered to be a feminist novel. I don’t disagree, but I think it’s more than that.

I picked it secondhand, in the middle of my ongoing exams. Read it in one day, the next subject be damned.

The other book I bought on the same day was Baudolino. Umberto Eco. Can’t really not buy one of his books once I see it.

Oh, and placed an order online for the first three books of the Song of Ice and Fire series. At Indiatimes. Lets see how this site performs…

May 20, 2006

Plans

I don’t get people who keep worrying about their future and need to plan their life in detail. And I certainly don’t get people who don’t ever know what they’re gonna do next.

I have always been a smug person. I think I’ve gotten most of what I wanted from life so far—probably more than I deserve. And I know it.

My life so far has been a sequence of so-called ‘moments of clarity’. I’ve a terrible memory, but there are some moments in life that I remember perfectly. Using a computer for the first time. The time I started reading books again.

Of course there are failures too. Like me trying to play the guitar. I’m hopeles at it: though I’m still trying and keep hoping that I’ll just learn it by osmosis.

I usually have a clear picture of what sort of person I’m gonna turn into. I don’t plan for it, but these sorts of things are like self-fulfilling prophecies: you just can’t help but make ’em true.

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May 17, 2006

Exam time again.

Tomorrow’s the first exam. Man, I’m tired of engineering. Can’t wait for the final hurdle to clear.

Tomorrow’s Project Management: a good subject in theory. But count in the Indian education system to ruin anything remotely interesting.

Studies are not going well. I’m not too worried though: I know that somehow I’m gonna get through the next few days. Can’t for the life of me tell you how. About the only planning I’ve dont for my final engineering exams is entering the time-table on Google Calendar. Go figure.

I know, I should stop whining. And I will. As soon as it all ends. Then I promise I’ll wax nostalgic about my good ol’ college days…

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May 16, 2006

Search terms roundup

  • L&T Infotech is shit: Hmm… if you say so
  • why i hate the movie clockwork orange: I’ve not seen, can’t comment
  • "really boring document": What, my blog?
  • animated military fights: Don’t care for ’em.
  • kindly bear with us in the interim: I shall.
  • anti-war and tralfamadorians: A Vonnegut fan I see.
  • how to crack "hr interviews": If only it were as simple as googling…
  • "i don’t like java" break try return: Neither do I.
  • "integrity without compromise" paradox: No it’s not.
  • did any famous writers have psychogenic fugue: I’m sure some had.
  • effects of caffeine on pathological liars: I’ll just have to find out.

Sify again.

Allright, I’ve had enough. Sify Broadband was giving me such great service for a few months that I almost forgot all the nightmares I’ve had getting connectivity.

Well, that’s changed. Again. Sify’s again put up a 150Mb download limit per day on my package, with one day cut off for every 25Mb over. I just renewed my connection yesterday, and started downloading some stuff that was in my queue for a while. And I see today that I’ve got just a week’s validity left, instead of a month.

I’m sick and tired of all this problems with Sify. I’m looking for a (more expensive) unlimited package, if they do provide it, or even better, for another provider.

My local cable guy does provide Pacenet connections, will have to check it’s schemes out.

I’d use Triband right away, if MTNL didn’t have such ridiculous download limits. What’s the use of a 256k line when you can only download 400Mb in a whole month? I mean, Night usage is not fine by me: I don’t leave my PC on every night.

Broadband in India sucks. No provider has given me a satisfactory service so far. How hard is it to just provide a 64/128/256k line at a reasonable rate and not monitor each and every Mb I download?

May 13, 2006

Emacs

I’ve finally started using the One True Editor. For good.

I had installed Emacs a while back, and had planned to learn using it for a long time. Things got in the way. The first road-block was that the version of Emacs I used wasn’t compatible with Xp’s Clear Type. Consolas, the best programming font ever looks terrible without sub-pixel smoothing.

I finally figured out that GNU Emacs 21.1 did use Clear Type, but it got removed from the latest 21.3 version due to some incompatibilities. I just downloaded the old version.

Now to the joys of Emacs customizations. Here’re some snippets from my .emacs file:

;; Disable file backups 
(setq make-backup-files nil)

;; Disable menu bar 
(menu-bar-mode -1)

;; Disable srcoll bar 
(toggle-scroll-bar -1)

;; Set the colour theme 
(require 'color-theme)
(color-theme-charcoal-black)

;; Start Emacs maximized 
(w32-send-sys-command 61488)

And some code for my blog post needs:

;; functions for blog posts 
(defun markdown-on-region (start end)
  "Convert Markdown syntax to HTML" 
  (interactive "r")
  (shell-command-on-region start end 
                           "python -u path/to/pymarkdown.py" t t))

I can just call this by M-x markdown-on-region… haven’t gotten around to specifying key bindings yet. Similarly, I’ve written functions for SmartyPants formatting, et cetera.

Ciao for now.

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May 12, 2006

Humour/Satire

“People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.”–Will Rogers

Humour is the best defence mechanism there is. When there’s nothing else you can do (or want to do) about things, why not laugh at them?

Whenever I think of politics, it depresses me to no end. The futility of believing, and the frustration of failures. I’ve never voted, and never will. I choose instead to mock. Satire makes life fun.

I don’t follow Indian politics at all. I know more about what goes on in the States than what’s going on over here. I have Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher to thank for that…

May 09, 2006

Updates

Again, there’s been a lack of recent posts. I’ve been reading. A lot. Two trilogies, and a few more.

A couple of months ago, I hit a dry spot reading-wise. No book seemed interesting. I could barely read past a dozen pages on most books I started. I’m so psyched on becoming an obsessive reader again that I haven’t had time to do anything else.

Life is lazy. I’ve more free time than is good for any sane person. I need to step out more.

OK, I’m back to reading. Am taking a break from reading by doing a nice round of re-reading. The Hitchhiker’s Guide never gets old, no matter how many times you read it.

May 04, 2006

Snakes on a Plane.

Best movie title ever! It’s snakes.. on a plane. Pure zen.

Links: IMDb, original post

April 29, 2006

Music Vids.

In my (humble) opinion, there are the two best music videos of all time.

Subterranean Homesick Blues:

Bitter Sweet Symphony:

Any others?

April 27, 2006

22

Huh. Nothing’s different.

April 20, 2006

India Driving

I tried to resist, I really did. But can’t help posting this video.

It’s true, y’all.

Download it if you want. Just rename the file to .flv and play using VLC.

Re-reading.

Lately, I’ve not read a lot of new stuff. These days I’m just so bored that I end up picking some book (which I like) off my shelves and start reading it. On a whim. Most of which I don’t finish.

To varying degrees, in the last week I’ve started re-reading:

  • Two Potter books
  • The Fountainhead
  • Vonnegut’s Hocus Pocus, Slaughter-house 5

Plus there I two ongoing books that I’m reading for the first time:

  • Thus Spake Zarathustra
  • Frost’s A Boy’s Will and North of Boston

The Potter books were just for fun. To set the mood. Whatever.

Finished half of the Fountainhead at one stretch yesterday. My first re-read for this book. A friend had it for over six months, and forgot to return it.

Just get the feeling that a lot of people like Ayn Rand’s books without actually understanding what she’s talking about. I, for one, won’t be really confident about giving my opinions on this book till I’ve read it a coupla times more, at least. That does not mean I won’t venture any opinions: just that I am liable to change them without warning.

What can I say about Mr. Vonnegut? Love him. Finished re-reading Hocus Pocus. Just love him.

Robert Frost writes beautiful poems. I’ve been carrying that book around for almost three months now—can’t rush reading poetry. It’s beautiful, but can only be enjoyed intermittently.

A lot of what Nietzsche writes I agree with. Sometimes I don’t. Again, I reserve my right to change my opinions, but it’d be safe to say that I like his books. Whatever. I sure as hell am not gonna stop quoting him.

Lately it’s become important that a book grab my attention. I was just doing some pointless math the other day, and figured that I don’t have time to read all the books I want. I mean, last year I barely read 80 books. Imagine I’d get the time to read even less once I start working. So if I’m not ‘into’ reading some book, then I’m not gonna read it. Haven’t got the time.

It’s amazing how many stories I can store in my head… Can’t remember any names if my life depended on it, but whenever I re-read some old book I liked, I remember perfectly what happened, and to whom. Sometimes I’ve stopped reading books, and picked up on the page I left off months later. Without noticing a change.

I have a terrible memory. I forget stuff all the time. I think I’m just wired to remember stories really well. All sorts of stories fascinate me—even the terribly written ones.

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April 18, 2006

Three concepts

(Another experiment in writing. I apologise)

The concepts: infinity, zero, self-reference

Ways you can think about them: infinite

Their fascination: infinite

Significance of the infinite in everyday life: zero

The horror that is zero: infinite

Self-reference is: this

It goes on till: infinity

Wisdom gleamed for all my thinking: zero

Regrets: zero

Value of this post’s content: zero

Amount of fun this was to write: infinite

(Well, not quite.)

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April 16, 2006

Style

Stylistic considerations are important, and not only for aesthetic reasons. Style helps you build up your identity—for better or worse.

Sometimes I try to employ a brusque writing style. Without seeming rude. Short sentences rock. They’re full of energy.

I like putting pauses in the middle of a sentence, even the short ones. My sentences keep contradicting themselves.

I can be wordy, but don’t like to consult a dictionary too often. I tend to guess a word’s meaning: often I’m wrong but I like it that way. Long, flowing paragraph-length sentences are fun to read when written well; which I sometimes strive to do, but oft times with disastrous results.

I like semi-colons; but respect the fact that they’re not really all that necessary. They’re obsolete, and quite easy to over-use; I like ’em anyway.

But nothing beats my love for the humble apostrophe. Ain’t it wonderful? Hate it when it’s incorrectly employed.

Grammar’s important. So’s correct typography. But I try not to be pedantic. Haven’t got a clue about most rules of grammar really, I just go for what feels right.

Short paragraphs are easier to read. Text should not be too wide on the screen. Use a column-based layout if you can. Once you’ve written a few hundred pages, you can be allowed to write paragraphs longer than six lines.

Use of slang and/or inside terms if cool. Inventing words is cooler. Inventing styles that take a life of their own is the epitome of cool.

I love self-referential writing. Here I am, writing for you, dear reader! What can be more fun than this? Usually I’m better at hiding references, but the directness here was to make a point.

Style is valuable only when you create your own, and so long as we keep re-inventing ourselves. Does your style arise from who you are, or is it that you slowly change into something your style will be comfortable with? Some questions give you headaches: they’re the best kind.

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On Wisdom

Wisdom is hard, knowledge is easy. You can always look up stuff you don’t know. Nine times out of ten you can easily figure out what the correct course of action is.

Wisdom is actually sticking to that course. Sticking to what you figure out is the truth. Not deluding yourself, not following the herd. Having the balls to stand by your decisions.

Wisdom is hard.

April 10, 2006

Beautiful words.

Some words are just too beautiful. They’re perfect. And I love them. You better do too.

æon: Don’t let anyone fool ya, the word’s æon and not eon. Anyone who disagrees can go to hell.

simulacra, simulacrum: Can’t you almost taste these words? Beautiful in too many ways to begin describing.

wyvern: Welsh, myth, dragon, snake. Any word where ‘w’ & ‘y’ come together is fine by me!

factotum: Fac totum. Fact o tum. Facto tum. Factotum.

audacity: L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace.

conundrum: The first time I heard this word, thought it was spelled with a ‘k’ and spent hours trying to trace it’s spelling online in order to get it’s exact meaning.

mélange: Aren’t we all.

There are lots more: synchronicity, nevermore, epiphany, serenity, cello, solstice, curt, baroque, levity, luscious, oxymoron, subversive, redux et cetera.

And my most used word in recent times is: seriously

Seriously, just love the word. Can be used anywhere.

Ohh, and lets not forget ‘Cellar door’. It’s nice. Seriously.

April 07, 2006

Haiku

Writing is too hard.
I’ve given up hope for now.
Haikus are funny.

A haiku a day
Write I will. A writer
Maybe I become.

One syllable here.
Another syllable there.
I’ve got no rhythm.

The first fresh coffee!
Oh how I long each morning.
To wake up to thee.

Too much thought
Is given to trivial pursuits.
Time’s a wastin’.

Run. Run. Run away.
For your life’s passin’ by.
You better be fast.

Enough ramblings. I
Will be back later. You, how
could I ever leave?

April 01, 2006

Fresh pickings

I just love raw mangoes. Freshly picked, not too ripe.

We have a few mango trees around my building, planted by some neighbours. So every summer I can always count on getting some of them. This year’s a lot better…

I live on the second floor. Right in front of my window’s a tree that’s started to bear fruit. I just have to lean out a little, pick one and eat. Good times.

Here’s the best way to eat your mango raw: slice it up, mix some salt and chilli powder and use it as dip. You need the mangoes fresh—the sourness increases after it’s picked. Or so it seems to me.

I’m not a big fan of ripe mangoes, and don’t get why people go all crazy over ’em. Hey, to each his own.

The ‘Hannibal’ series

Recently finished reading all three books. My advice: read Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs, skip Hannibal.

Was planning to post a review for each, but my wrist’s paining a little. Must stop playing stupid computer games…

March 29, 2006

Free.

No more writing of them engineering assignments for me!

March 25, 2006

Hectic times ahead

Only a few days of my last semester of college are left. Then it’s college exams, submitting the damn journals, demo-ing the damn project and the board oral exams. Which all will take till the end of April. Then it’s almost a month’s break before the board exams. After which I’m home free.

You’d think I’d start being nostalgic about this time, right? To be honest, I neither have the time or the inclination to be anything but frustrated at college. In hindsight, engineering is just not worth it. I should have gone for a pure-science degree: haven’t learned anything new about computers here.

Here’s a piece of advice: don’t expect to learn what you want at college. If like me you want to become a programmer, learn to program yourself. Study math/physics/economics/literature et cetera—any field you have the slightest interest in and which is really useful in life. Seriously.

March 22, 2006

Hammered.

Best line I’ve heard recently:

“Why do I keep hitting myself with a hammer? Because it feels so good when I stop.”

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March 17, 2006

Reading *On the Road*

I’ve been reading the book on-and-off for a month, and am barely half-way though it. Love it, but it’s a most exhausting book. The energy!

Reading it is like getting repeatedly hit on the head with a hammer. Sentences are paragraphs, paragraphs that are pages long. I’ve not seen anything like this.

It’s a lotta fun to read, but I can’t do my usual page-a-minute trick. Think I’ll be able to finish it by April-end.

March 15, 2006

More

Six-minute movie. Brilliant. Must-see. Haunting. Psychedelic. Human. Wow. Depressing. Dystopian. On happiness and innocence. On loss. With great music too.

OK, enough raving. Go see it already.

In defence of sloth.

From WordNet:
sloth, slothfulness — a disinclination to work or exert yourself
sloth, laziness, acedia — apathy and inactivity in the practice of virtue (personified as one of the deadly sins)

I like the first definition: defines my behaviour perfectly. Hate the second.

Virtue is one of those sticky things that defies definition except as an abstraction. Again from WordNet:
virtue, virtuousness, moral excellence — the quality of doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong

I don’t believe that showing a ‘disinclination to work’ is wrong—just the opposite in point of fact. But I guess I’ll never be able to convince people otherwise. It all cones down to who decides what is right and what is wrong in your eyes. I make the decision myself: based on convenience or on my beliefs. Many let others choose for them.

I get a lot of crap from a lot of people due to my continual putting off of work. Due to often deliberately under-achieving (I’ll explain later, if I get around to it). None of it matters as I don’t give a damn.

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March 12, 2006

Misc stuff combined.

After twenty days of idleness, I would have thought going back to college would be fun. Three days on, I couldn’t imagine anything worse.

I’ve come to realize that programming is only fun when I’m actually into doing it. For my own sake. Finishing a project that I have no interest in is gonna be real hard.

Rains in the summer! My kind of weather. First off all, we had some nifty cloud formations over Mumbai due to the advent of a cold front. The next day was rain and thunder. Didn’t go to college, just sat back and relaxed. I love the rains—especially when I don’t have to go out in ’em.

Evolution as a game: this just might revolutionize gaming. Not that I’d know, I hardly ever play. But I just can’t stop fiddling around with a silly little game called Flow. And then there’s Spore. This just might be the first game I buy with my own money. The demo rocks.

One Good Move is my new favourite blog. There be clips. Lots of ’em. It’s my daily laugh-factor.

More later.

March 10, 2006

In case anyone was wondering…

Ya, I’m still here.

February 25, 2006

Read my mind.

I just love auto-complete. Software is much more fun when it sort-of reads your mind.

I don’t want software to just keep a history of my past usage. I want it to actually suggest something based on it. And do it un-obtrusively.

I don’t want to browse through a huge list of items, or enter a search term exactly before getting to see the result. Incremental search is nothing new—VIM had it since 2001. Emacs even before that.

And for goodness sake, tell me I’ve made a mistake in entering data as soon as I’ve made it. Before I submit it. Do-overs suck.

Computers are fast—they should work for us people. Not turn us into glorified data-entry operators.

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February 21, 2006

61.88%

By all rights, I shouldn’t have even cleared this semester. If I’ve learned anything, it’s not to question things when they’re going your way.

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February 20, 2006

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

I love Robert Frost!

February 19, 2006

Manticore

It’s good—not as funny as the Simoqin though. More ‘conventional’ if I may say so. Loved some parts of it. And there are fewer rough spots in this one—more polish.

February 18, 2006

Guitar

Went with Geo & bought an acoustic guitar today. Now I need to learn the damn thing. Any pointers?

February 16, 2006

Some (quick) book reviews

Lord of the Flies is amazing. And downright disturbing. Don’t think the book would have been as effective if the characters were grown-ups…

The Scarlet Pimpernel is fun. As heroic tales go, this is pretty much standard fare. Was just thinking that if this were a new book, I’d have thought that it lacked depth. Amazing what you’ll forgive as long as the book you’re reading is old…

And if anyone’s listening, stay away from any Chetan Bhagat book you see. My sis’ bought both Five point someone and One Night @ The Call Centre. I read them, and by the end I was really pissed off. The books start off well, but it all becomes an unforgivable mess near the end. ’Nuff said.

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February 13, 2006

Fools & Listeners

I just can’t stand it when people pretend to be knowledgeable things they haven’t a clue about. I’m the worst offender, but at least I understand the difference between when I actually know something and when I’m bluffing. Most people do not, and still think whatever they say is sacrosanct.

It’s a reflex—one I can’t control. I try to do anything possible to drown out the voice of some clueless individual speaking, else I get really angry. Not at the fool who’s speaking, but at the idiots who actually listen.

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February 09, 2006

Break

Ah, a 20-day break from college. Good things haven’t stopped happening…

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February 06, 2006

Quote of the day…

He constantly excoriated himself for not living up to his own ideals—for not working hard enough, loving well enough, or having motives that were pure enough.
– Stephen O’Connor, Orphan Trains

via

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February 04, 2006

Feynman

You know what happens, when you hear about someone for once, you start noticing them everywhere? Like when you first hear a new word, you keep noticing it being used a lot. And then you wonder how you missed discovering it earlier?

That’s what happened to me about Richard Feynman. I had of course heard of him, but never had taken the trouble to actively seek out any info about him. And once I picked out a copy of Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! at Strand, it seems that everyday I come across a link to some speech he’d delivered, or something or the other he’d done. Or links to lectures he’s given

The book’s great—I think this is the first time I’ve really enjoyed reading non-fiction. And the lectures are really good too—well worth the around 1Gb total download. I’ve watched two out of four so far, and I can tell ya that for the first time the quantum theory makes sense to me. So do complex numbers.

That’s all…

January 30, 2006

Tediousness

College really sucks right now. Just when it seems that it can’t get any worse, they come up with a new kind of torture.

It’s made me feel so dull that I sleep a couple of hours extra each day. I can’t seem to think properly lately: just been too bored with life. No good posts recently. No excitement.

And I’ve not even started writing any of those damn assignments so far. Those are sure gonna screw me in the end.

Plus the fact that I really don’t like the project I’m supposed to do, which makes it impossible to finish even though it’s rather elementary. A word of advice to engineering students: don’t ever approach a company to get a project for your final year. Once you’ve been selected and your project details are submitted to the University, you can’t change it. In all probability, you’ll get a crappy project that’s been handed down from department to department that no one’s interested in doing, and you won’t be able to re-consider. Just do it yourself, if you know what’s good for ya.

Once I realized how pointless engineering really is, I’ve had a period of depression every semester. This time around, it seems even worse than usual.