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