Thursday, December 23, 2010

Netbook screen too small? and other views...

@rakkimk's request for my suggestions about netbooks led me into having a discussion about netbooks with him on twitter. Thanks, @rakkimk :)

twitter arrow-3D-green-right blogger_logo

Posting the tweet conversation here for the benefit of all. FAQ format.

1. Looking at a great netbook? How much did your Samsung one cost?

Ans. Mine costed Rs. 15,300 bought at SP road in Bangalore.

2. Is the 10" screen not too small? Is it not stressful to the eyes?

Ans. Well, 1. screen is matte finish which prevents reflection and which I like. I hate gloss. 2. Great size for portability 3. Once you start using it, it just fades away and let's you do your thing, unless what you do involves multi-page spreadsheets. or presentations or watching HD movies.As for normal SD vids,it's not bad.The clarity is great & in fullscreen mode-quite /good

3. This one is 15K and iPad is 22K ($499). Did you think about iPad at all?

Ans. Yes I did. iPad and MacBook Air. First of all, my budget wasn't permitting. Secondly, iPad sucks in terms of not having ethernet, flash support, hackability, USB support etc.. MacBook Air was just plain costly.

baked_blogger

Besides, my purpose was to use it as a download machine that stays ON 24x7, netbook itself is an overkill. Should've got a NAS box.

After all this, support is my major priority. Samsung support - I can find in any major town in India. Apple - Not so.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Signs of an obsession

What are the signs of an obsession with a Job?

I recently discovered I'm becoming Obsessed with mine. Here's how...

Sign no. 1: Working my ass off and not feeling too tired at the end of the day.

Sign No. 2: Working late nights and not minding it

Sign No. 3: Going home only to eat and sleep, but not even doing that. Coding instead, even when at home. Contemplating staying at office on most days.

Sign No. 4: Reading up more about code and design than any other type of article.

Some might say that this is going crazy, but I beg to differ because, after all, what do we work for? It is to enjoy ourselves with the money we earn, right? If I am enjoying myself facing the challenges the job throws at me and craving for the rush of achievement at the end of solving that challenge makes me feel good, then that's good, isn't it?

Think about it.

Having said that, I'm not saying one should make their hobby as their job. That'd be the dumbest thing to do as I found out. In fact, that's the exact thing you should avoid doing. If one takes their hobby as their job then they'd start doing what they love for money and not for the love of it and soon it turns out that one starts to hate their HOBBY!

So, keep personal & professional lives separate but love whatever you do in both.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

First week of adventures with the new Netbook


Finally managed to garner enough funds to get myself the new Netbook. Yeah. Spare the advice about whether I know what I have gotten into as the answer is YES, I DO! and here's proof: http://www.etiole.com/?p=4907

My first day with my new prized possession began with I trying to get a practical OS installed on it. Yes, in order to save money, I bought the FreeDOS version. And, with that OS, come on! you can do nothing in today's world.

Before I began the installation, I being I, went into the BIOS and meddled with all the settings, explored it and finally found the option to set BIOS password. God! Why did I do that? Seems, the Samsung N148 netbook has its keyboard layout configured differently in the BIOS (before the drivers get loaded). After I set the password, though I was typing the right password, it was saying that it was wrong and wasn't even booting into the OS.

Then I read the manual and found out that the BIOS password can be reset by calling Samsung's customer care but it will be charged. Cursing my luck, I started scouring the Internet to find a way to short the jumpers to reset the BIOS as I knew that this was all they were going to do anyways and I didn't want to pay for it.

Found a lot of articles and pictures which said the pins were found underneath the RAM , like this one e.g.: http://www.sammynetbook.com/forum/threads/9287-cmos-password-NC10 There you go! In a purely geeky fashion I opened the RAM compartment, plugged out the RAM and shockingly didn't find the pins there. All this on Day 1 of buying the Netbook. Thank God I am not in my teens, or else I would have gotten a nice dose of my parents.

Finally, did some more searching and found another netbook that had the pins in a different place than the typical ones. Tried looking at the same place on mine. Took some time to figure out that it was hidden underneath a pice of insulation tape that I had to remove. Overjoyed in finding the pins, wasted no time in shorting them. Did that, put back the covers and tried booting. Guess what. The BIOS hasn't been reset.

Tried many a time in vain. It wasn't getting reset. Then, to find out whether I was typing the wrong password, tried searching for a way to decode the password. Found out that the Hex code that is displayed along with the error message for BIOS being locked actually is a cryptic way of letting you figure out the password. Type the hex code and get the password using this tool for Samsung laptops: http://sites.google.com/site/dogber1/blog/pwgen-samsung.py (Python script)
or the Windows binary:
http://sites.google.com/site/dogber1/blog/pwgen-samsung.zip

For other laptops refer this Blog: http://dogber1.blogspot.com/2009/05/table-of-reverse-engineered-bios.html

Using this tool revealed that I was indeed typing the right password.

This was when I realized that the keyboard layout may be wrong as I remembered that earlier in the FreeDOS's command prompt too, I had some messed up commands being typed because of wrong key map.

I connected my desktop's USB keyboard (which I luckily had besides the wireless one), and typed in the password. Voila! It accepted. Immediately I removed the password.

Phew! That was one hell of a ride, I thought I should blog about it. So, here it is.

After this ordeal. I was too tired to go ahead with anything else, the clock had struck 1 AM and I had to work the next day so went to bed without bothering too much about the OS which was what I had initially set to do. Whatte Day, eh?

Day 2:

Naturally, I wanted to install Windows 7 on it but didn't have a large enough pen/thumb drive. You need a minimum of 4GB. Yes, that should remind you that it lacks an optical drive, if that had skipped your mind.

Prior to getting the netbook, I was experimenting with Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat and was quite amazed at the evolution of linux from a few years ago. Everything on my desktop had worked out of the box. And it was only 693.2MB. Since I had heard a lot about Ubuntu's unity interface in the netbook edition, decided to give that a try. Since the pen drive had to be bootable, tried using the tool that came with the ISO but that failed to boot. Then found out of this neat tool: UNetBootIn.

This tool offers to download any one of the various linux distros and directly create the bootable Pen drive or can do so from an ISO image that you already possess. I chose this option and allowed it to do its job. Absolutely no intervention required other than selecting the source ISO image and the destination pen drive. This took about 15 minutes.

Just noticed this Ubuntu's site : http://www.ubuntu.com/desktop/get-ubuntu/download
They're recommending another tool called Universal USB Installer.

After this, I plugged in my pen drive to my netbook, booted from it and installed Ubuntu. I was amazed at the unity interface of ubuntu. Quite nifty, but having gotten used to the regular Gnome, I wanted to switch back to it. I thought I had to reinstall the desktop edition. Surprisingly, all I had to do was switch the option on the login screen to desktop edition. Thank God!

The latest version of ubuntu offers to install restricted drivers and extras meaning copyrighted video codecs and drivers for your graphics chipset. This is neat considering that in earlier version, you had to manually search for those and install them.

Took the netbook with me to my Uncle's place where I was visiting for the Diwali holidays and my cousin seemed to have a 4GB pen drive with him. Borrowed it, created the Windows 7 boot from pen drive and installed that too.

So far, so good. Having fun. Let's see how it goes.

Please leave your thoughts...

Friday, October 22, 2010

How to enjoy a movie by hook or CROOK!

There’s always the dilemma when watching a movie in the cinemas. First, there’s the want of people to go with and at the same time, the silence at the right moments in the movie. You can never get both. If you take people with you, there’s always going to be a dialogue or two that you missed because your friend sitting next to you uttered something that you, now, don’t even remember. What do you do in these situations? Well, here’s an advice to enjoy the movie, and also have loads of fun with your company.

Crook Movie PostersFirst, choose a movie that you know is going to be boring. Yes. BORING! Your enjoyment level is inversely proportional to the quality of the plot. The worse the plot, the more you’ll enjoy it. Next, choose friends who like crowds and make a lot of noise. The more shameless ones, the better.

And lastly, if you aren’t paying for the tickets, Super! You’ve got your concoction for a great day out at the cinema.

At this point, you might think that I have gone insane, but give me a chance to reason myself out.

First of all, let me lay out my credentials for giving movie watching advice, especially this kind. This advice/suggestion is based on my experience last week watching the movie “Crook” in a multiplex.

Perhaps many of you have already figured where I’m coming from.

Yes, I watched “Crook”. A movie, from what I’ve heard begs to obtain the same kind of review that “Dabangg” did. What? you ask? The review read something like this: “Dabangg is so ridiculous, so stupid, so pathetic that it is actually good!”. Yes, that’s what it read.

I haven’t watched Dabangg. Who in the right mind would after reading such a review? So, I can’t comment on that but this line would apply very well to “Crook”. Good that it was a company sponsored ticket.

Here’s where I would’ve said “I want 2 1/2 hours of my life back”  but surprisingly, (yes it is surprising to myself) on the contrary, I really enjoyed the time. How you ask?

Here’s how:

First, my company of colleagues all understood the language of the movie, Hindi in this case -  A key ingredient for having a good time. How is that a matter, you ask? Well, you’d be surprised how often people go to the movies without even knowing the language and then complain that the movie was bad.

Second, the movie, to its credit had very good music. Being the crazy fanatics that we are, we enjoyed the music like the Low Class Locals without bothering even a little bit that it was a multiplex. After all, what’s the point of sitting silently in an Air conditioned cinema after paying such a high ticket price and not enjoy the movie thoroughly, however crappy it may be.

However clichéd it may be, I’m still going to say – last but definitely not the least, the movie’s plot itself which is what I want to talk about the most but I don’t want to kill the fun for those who haven’t experienced it.

So, a few scenes only:

The plot is about a guy who is a crook in Bombay (Emraan Hashmi) being sent to down under – Australia after his identity being forged by his God father (Gulshan Grover) who is a Police officer. Yes! can you imagine it? Gulshan Grover plays a good man in this movie which absolutely doesn’t suit him. After Hashmi lands in OZ, meets a fat guy from Gurdaspur who’s there to study in a college on scholarship. For some reason, Hashmi always refers to the fat guy’s town as Hoshiyarpur and the fat guy corrects him every single time. This goes on throughout the movie and once Hashmi actually says it correctly but the fat guy, out of force of habit, trying to correct him, says “Hoshiyarpur”. OK, that was one of the funny scenes so sorry for spoiling the fun.

The plot starts with Hashmi falling for an Indian  girl who had come to pick up the fat guy from Hoshiyarpur but actually picks up Emraan Hashmi instead as he impersonates the fat guy.

Hashmi gets a job as a taxi driver from a Punjabi gang who provide refuge to illegal Indian immigrants and finds them jobs. The funniest bit is that after every sentence that anyone in the gang utters, they all one-by-one say “Fact Hai!”.

Many such small nuances make the movie watchable without which the already crappy movie would’ve just been pathetic.

The plot thickens with the flash-back of the heroine’s brother killing his other sister while trying to abort her pregnancy at a very late stage after finding out that the father of the baby was an Australian.

At the same time there’s the outbreak of Indians getting beaten up by Australians for being of a different colour. I thought this bit was over-exaggerated. They show the fat guy getting beaten up in hospital and the doctor explaining his condition to Emraan Hashmi and the heroine.

For some reason, the whole movie though claiming to be set in OZ, always has American accent spoken by the white people. The worst part was when the Doctor informs about the condition of the heroine’s brother who was attacked by Australians. The Accent is a strong Texan. Throughout the movie, I didn’t notice a single white man/woman speaking the frickking Australian accent.

The climax, which was the culmination of all the emotional drama of the entire movie and supposed to be the most serious turned out to be the funniest scene in the movie.

The Brother of the heroine is disillusioned that his sister was killed not by him trying to abort the baby but by the Australian who got her pregnant. There are such blatant logic FAILS in the movie which makes it watchable because that’s what made it funny.

The brother then kidnaps the Australian man’s sister and tries to kill her the same way his sister had dies – On the table, in order to take revenge. This is the climax scene in which the fat guy is made to dig a grave for her while the brother prepares for the murder. As expected, the hero arrives on time and explains the truth and tries to reason with the brother but he doesn’t understand. The fat guy, in the meanwhile listening to Emraan’s speech gets enlightened and revolts against the brother who keeps ordering him to continue to dig. The fat guy finally loses it and kills the brother with the shovel that he was using to dig.

The kidnapped Australian girl is rescued and the story ends there.

Note:  Pay attention to the small dialogues in which lies a little bit of entertainment in the form of it being so pathetic that it is actually funny.

Wow! I am amazed, I could write so much about such a crappy movie. In one line, a lot of good talent Emraan Hashmi, Neha Sharma (perhaps it’s just me but she looks strikingly similar to Angelina Jolie), the Punjabi gang, the fat guy, the brother – all wasted colossally in this movie.

If you are getting a free ticket and some noisy comment-passing, extrovert friends, go watch this movie. Otherwise, don’t even bother.

So, now you know how to enjoy a day-out at the movies by hook or “Crook”.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Buried Alive

Buried Alive is a book based on a true story narrating the ordeals of a man after being kidnapped while working in Post-war Iraq. The story revolves around an American, Roy Hallums (the Author himself) who works for a Saudi Arabian company, deputed in Post-war Iraq. It is an emotionally painful, detailed narrative by the author.

The nicety of the book lies in the fact that although it details out all the nuances of a kidnapping, the author does it with relative ease and seems to make it sound like it's no big deal. Never for a minute does it get monotonous or boring. It teaches us how to handle adversity and how staying calm always helps.

Everyone, especially children should read this book to find out the ground reality in countries torn by war, like Iraq. It quite accurately describes the situation there. How, even after the fall of the dictatorship, there's a lot to be done, the rebuilding effort required is quite enormous. It would teach us how to face adversity staying calm and composed.

It pokes our conscience about how we forget about such kidnapping incidents as they get too common, about how we don't bother after a while, how we become numb to such events as long as they don't affect us directly in anyway.

The climax is quite dramatic with the US army storming into the building where the hostages are held to rescue them, will, I'm sure,  give you goose bumps.

The book is just 249 pages long and makes for a quick but entertaining read.

Bottom-line: A  great book to read over a lazy weekend with some snack, for entertainment and some provoking some thought towards the goings-on of the world.

Book sample - courtesy:  http://www.booksneeze.com

Sunday, July 18, 2010

My typing speed

I came across this site that throws random words for you to type. Typing comprehend-able sentences is one thing but typing these random words, I realized, is much more difficult.

Check out my score:

47 words

Typing Test

Monday, July 5, 2010

Traffic heaven

Thanks to Bharath Bandh, Bangalore is in traffic heaven. Abso-freakin-loutely no traffic. 80KMPH at tin factory. Nuff said.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wery Vell!

Im doing wery vell vit dis blog or am I?  This is the kind of spelling that Generation-Y is getting used to. Despite being warned of the consequences of wrong spelling, they are falling prey to using shortened SMS lingo. The worst part is that since it is sub-conscious, they don't even know they're making a mistake.



Image source:  http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/86071414/Workbook-Stock

One more problem is that we Indians don't know the difference between the sounds of "V" and "W". We use them interchangeably. Even while using abbreviations in the SMS lingo, spelling "with" as "vit" is completely wrong, according to me. Although I consider any abbreviation of an already small word to be wrong, I can forgive if it was written as "wit" for the lack of space but "vit" is truly wrong! To understand why, you need to understand how the two letters are pronounced. If you paid attention in your school, you will remember this: "Bite your V's and kiss your W's". This, basically, means that while pronouncing "V" you tend to bite your lower lip with your upper, front teeth and you tend to bring your lips together, as though kissing, while pronouncing a "W". To see a demo visit this site: http://www.uiowa.edu/~acadtech/phonetics/english/frameset.html

Although we Indians understand the right meaning even if the two letters are not pronounced correctly, for a native speaker this can be quite confusing. So, please try to be cautious to use the appropriate sound and letter as required.

Agreed that in a medium like twitter and SMS, the restriction of the number of characters makes us innovate to fit what we want to say under the limit, but is it okay to do the same in other places, especially in formal communication? I don't think so.

This isn't the end of it. Even grammar is going to the dogs. Usage of capital letters in the middle of a sentence, usage of all capitals, abbreviations of words that had no standard expansion, utterly wrong usage of punctuation marks, the list goes on. This is utter non-sense! Ask youngsters and they consider this kind of murder of the language to be "cool!”.

Although spell-checkers are a useful tool, they're not an intelligent one. They can identify wrongly spelt words, but they do not know to identify the context correctly, all the time (though with new improvements in technology, this is trying to be attempted).

See this example: http://writingenglish.wordpress.com/2006/09/18/ten-common-writing-mistakes-your-spell-checker-won’t-find/

This leads to the use of rightly spelt wrong words in a sentence. A typo could be forgiven but usage of a wrong word implies that you either do not have a basic sense of the meaning of words or didn't care to spend an extra few minutes to revise your document before hitting the send button which can prove disastrous to you especially if you are a job-seeker.

Whole novels are being written with such language and they go on to become bestsellers! This is outrageous. Youngsters committing mistakes is one thing but THIS is intolerable! How can someone call themselves a writer when they don't even know basic grammar? That's outrageous, don't you think?

A request to the people who use abbreviations/SMS lingo etc - please do so with caution. You might say it is OK with friends but it is not. When you actually have to use the correct language, you sub-consciously use your habitual version without realising it. Try to use proper language to the maximum extent possible. I'm not saying it is taboo to use SMS lingo but try not to. Use it sparingly, only when you have to save characters in the text box. Not only that, there is some etiquette to be followed in different contexts. Please follow them to the extent possible. That is my humble request.

Let me know what you think. Do you think SMS lingo usage is justified? Do you think grammar is of no importance? Etiquette plays no role in today's scenario? Comment on it below.

Request: If you find any errors in my blog, please point it out. I’ll make the correction. Some errors creep in despite our best efforts but I assure you they wouldn’t be blatant.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Midnight reading

Due to my aunt coming over and staying at our place last night I had to go through some inconveniences. What you ask? Well, you know. The usual. She arrived almost at the stroke of midnight and no, that doesn't make her Cinderella. Rather, quite the opposite.

I was woken up by all the commotion of someone arriving from out-of-town. The regular greetings, how are you’s, what's happenings, created quite a whim in my household. Well, I can forgive all that. Mind you that I hadn’t gotten up from bed. I pretended to be fast asleep but neither my mom nor the guests paid any heed to that and continued their conversations right into the night after the very late dinner. I was so irritated that I didn't get any sleep.

I braced myself for appearing to be rude and gathered enough courage to tell them to shut up. They did but not for long. My aunt called up someone  on the phone and happily started talking, and really loud at that, as if it was during the day and no one was around.



Image source:

Quite unnerved by all this, I decided to study the book which I was supposed to have anyway, which I had procrastinated doing. Perhaps the bright light that the tube emitted made my aunt shut up for good. The air was cold from the fan and it was quiet now. I was wide awake by now. Whatever little sleep I had in my eyes had disappeared. I continued to read.

It is then that I discovered quite an amazing thing. I had completed four chapters and looked up at the clock to find out that only an hour had passed. It was 1:30A.M. The previous four had taken me almost three days to complete. “Wow!” I said to myself.

Perhaps that's how the proverbial phrase “Burning the midnight oil” came about.

I had done this once earlier at 3:00A.M. but not at 1A.M. like this time. So, it has convinced me that reading after midnight is quite effective provided you are wide awake and anyone wanting a serious read should try it. Probably one could sleep during the day to stay awake during the night.

Have you done this or wanting to? Share you experiences.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

College - Massachusetts or Madras?

I stumbled upon this site http://CS50.tv while searching for lectures on Computer science. The lecture videos on this site on the course “Introduction to Computer Science” were so impressive that I decided to probe a little more about the admission process and getting into Harvard and a few other American Universities. It is then that the stark contrast between our Indian system and the American system of Higher education jolted me. Here are some insights that I had derived…

mit-seal_400x400 MIT



First and the most distinct difference between US and Indian Colleges is the importance given to extra-curricular and co-curricular activities. Most Universities, if not all, in the US have a credit based course system. So, you get credits for every useful contribution you make to the university and towards your personal development. In the freshman year, which is the first year of college, you get to taste all the varied branches of study of your choice and have to choose the subjects you want to major in only before the beginning of the second year (Sophomore). This gives the students a very good exposure and inside view of all the courses offered by the University before making the choice. Compare this to the Indian system where a 12th pass adolescent, with all the hormonal surges, makes the choice of course based, mainly, on peer pressure and half-baked knowledge of the courses from their seniors. About 90% of the students don't even know what they want to do in life at that point.

Once they choose their course, they're stuck with it for the next three, four or five years. Some of them go into depression, not able to cope up with the work load that the course demands or having chosen a course that is diametrically opposite to their interests. Even after passing out from the course, successfully at that, 80% are considered unemployable. Why? You know why!

Now, going back to the US counterparts. Credits are awarded for any which way you prove your mettle. If you are a good sportsman, you are awarded sports credits for every training that you attend, for every match you play and for every game you win. If the student is interested in a project that benefits the society at large or the society within campus, he’s given credits. All this adds up. (S)he’s not penalised for not attending class, not performing extremely well in exams. Exams aren’t the be all and end all of it.

This doesn’t mean that people don’t need to study. The students at US universities work much harder than their Indian counterparts. As far as I’ve heard from my friends who have and are studying in US universities, everything is practical. You are swamped with assignments, projects and experiments that demand the application of the knowledge you have obtained in the classroom. It is not rote learning and vomiting in the exam paper as it is here. The courses are very demanding.

To add to it, the lecturers & books here spoon feed the students, making them lazy.

I'm guessing that this part of the reason foreign universities (in the developed world) produce quality than quantity of graduates. Here in India, every dog on the road (pardon the language) has a University degree. It is too cheap, too accessible and too easy to get a degree in India. Whereas in the US, nothing is as subsidised. Either you perform well to get a scholarship or be born in a filthy rich family to get a degree.

Another point about the US higher education is that students don't join a University course immediately after high school. Most of them work for a year or two, learn to earn their living and pay for their schooling themselves which inhibits many of them being able to afford or even preferring to get a degree to advance themselves, but those who do and everyone else realise the difficulty and value of the degree that they've earned.

I would like to say this at this juncture. In the US, degrees are earned, here they're awarded!

At these times of major education system overhaul at the primary level by our Education Minister Kabil Sibal, hoping to have something similar at the University level as well, I rest my case.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

SunFunday? Some tips to get through the work week

I’m an ardent fan of Garfield like the rest of you are but I don’t corroborate with his idea of flying to another country like Ibiza on Mondays because it is not yet a Monday there. Although Mondays mean going back to work/routine/grind, call it what you may, for me it is just a day that is 5 days from the weekend.

garfield_monday

Yes, I’m being very optimistic but those who know me well would also know that I’m a practical guy. I firmly believe in the old Tamil saying that goes “ ALavukku minjinaa, amirthamum visham” meaning “Over the limit, even the divine nectar can turn poisonous”. So, when I’m saying this, you can believe that it really works.

Try it. Next Monday, start counting down to the weekend and you’d see that the week will whizz past in a jiffy and before you know it, Friday evening would have arrived.

Another reason that I’ve observed for Monday blues is inadequate sleep the night before. The person who’s well slept on a Sunday night enjoys the week ahead. For most people, Sunday means Fun. They plan(or not) their Sundays with all sorts of activities that stretch late into the night too. This is the gravest of mistakes that lands you in a soup on a Monday morning. I, for one, plan everything for the Friday evening. Though, I’d be dead tired, I stretch myself to finish as much as I can on a Friday evening. Finish all household tasks, catch up on all movies/TV shows that I had missed during the week etc during Friday nights. Going to movies, hanging out with friends, completing tasks that spilt over from the Friday, everything else is done by Saturday evening tops.

I know that I’m no sportsman/athlete or even a person who takes care of his body well but nowadays I try to play on a Saturday weekend just for fun, if not for anything else. I feel more rejuvenated that way.

Then comes the Sunday where I get up late, keep things in place for Monday morning like Ironing clothes, polishing shoes etc., activities that don’t take up too much effort or time or intellect. These are completed in an hour or two after I wake up and have a nice meal, watch some TV, listen to some soothing blues/jazz numbers during the afternoon and sleep. Make sure to get up before 16:00 so that you don’t stay up too late. Have dinner, max, by 19:00 and go to bed by 20:00 if nothing interesting on TV. If there is any then you obviously don’t want to miss it so go to bed max by 22:00. Never exceed that time.

Get up a little earlier than usual on a Monday morning, say at 5:30, do your usual morning activities and leave for office. This also helps you avoid the Monday morning Traffic rush.

This schedule gets me up & running on a Monday without any stress and makes my Sunday a Fun day with the week ahead quite pleasant.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mega Movie Magic

Watched two of the most awaited movies this season: “Kites” & “Shrek: Forever After, The Final chapter 3D” in the cinemas and this is NOT going to be yet another review out there on the Information Superhighway although I’d say this: Don’t miss Shrek 4 and stay away from Kites unless you are the kind who likes melodrama and sad endings.

Notice that it is not a multiplex but a regular single screen, good, old Cinema! that I have mentioned. “Why?” you may ask. Well, here goes…

Kites – I paid Rs.60 for middle class. Shrek - Rs.150 for balcony! Trust me. That’s cheap. Gone are the days of Balcony for Rs. 50. I remember watching “Fanaa” in the balcony for that much. And this is because it was a single screener. No multiplex in Bangalore charges anything less than Rs.150 on a weekend.

My question is if these single screen theatres with far lesser audience and limited number of shows can offer such low ticket prices and still make a profit, why do the multiplexes have to charge such exorbitant prices? You may argue saying that their infrastructure and ambiance is way better and that you get what you pay for. Well, I can counter that by saying even the single screen theatres of today have excellent infrastructure and boast of facilities that can dwarf that offered by multiplexes.

Cinema

A/C halls, Digital Projection, DTS Surround sound, excellent cushion, push-back seats, good eatables and all this with decently priced tickets. I don’t see a difference. Does anyone? Enlighten me.

Then there’s the question of crowd. What is it? Multiplexes have very decent crowd? Is that what you say? Ask yourself. Do you want to watch a movie with no audience reaction to anything, no whistles, no hoots, no yelling, no screaming, absolutely no enthusiasm. For that, I might as well watch the movie at home. After all, what is cinema for? It is for entertainment and enjoyment and without all the above, it is just a load of BS.

If you are the kind who doesn’t mind paying more for a better experience. Think again. What you are actually doing is inflating the prices and making it unaffordable for us lesser mortals. You aren’t paying more because you are getting more. You are paying more because you can and the multiplex owners understand this very clearly and make humongous profits.

Different rates for different days, different movies and different shows. Different movies – I can understand but the others are just ridiculous!

Lesser prices, more shows, more people. That’s the way to go. Don’t you think? No? Then let me know what you think.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Supernatural guardian

Supernatural phenomena needn't always have to be evil or horrific as portrayed in movies. It can do some good to people who believe too. I know that I'm starting to sound like some God-man but I can't deny the fact that is happening to me. I don't, for sure, know if it is supernatural but as long as it is affecting my life in a good way, I don't care what it is.

Creation of Adam

This may sound silly but ever since my dad passed away, I feel like someone's monitoring my activities. It is almost like they're right there watching my every move. When I procrastinate doing a certain thing then there occurs something that forces me to stop and get off my ass and do that thing. e.g. If I'm stuck to the computer on a weekend without even brushing or bathing then there's a power cut. You may say that Power-cuts in Bangalore are the most ubiquitous thing and it was just coincidence but as soon as I'm in the Bathroom, the power is back and this has happened too many times to be just a coincidence.

And for the past few days, looks like someone's listening to my wishes and granting it. Whatever I wished for is happening. My gut tends to always ask "Dad, Is it you?" Who/whatever it may be, Thank you! Thanks a tonne. Thanks for everything that you may have done for me without I realizing that it's you. :)

Observe carefully and you'd notice somethings happening in your day-to-day life that looks like it is being conspired for you. Take a moment to think of the possibilities for all the events in one day of your life and I bet you that you'll have something sticking out without an explanation. Wonder what it is. Think it out and the more you think of it and thank the person who you think is doing it, the more often such events start occurring and before you know it, your life has turned more pleasant. At least for me it has.

Speaking about thanking people, the other thing that I've noticed whenever I go to a place of worship is people asking for this and that - happiness, pleasure, health and wealth and a million other things that exists in this world but the people I've found thanking for what they've got already were far and few between. Since the time I realized this, I've never actually asked God for anything. I admit it, I'm no saint. I do have desires but they remain desires and I find ways to fulfil them but never ask GOD for it. I've only been thanking him for what I've already got - it may be as miniscule as a pen that I bought but I thank him not for the object itself but for the ability he's given me to buy that and the relatively better position in society that I am in compared to a million others.

I heard a story the other day about how heaven is divided into 3 departments. The first department had hundreds of thousands of angels working hard segregating all the prayers received. The second department again was bustling with activity with as many angels sending out the granted wishes. Then there was the third department where there was just one Angel sitting and that too sitting idle without any work. When inquired that was the department to receive thanks for the wishes granted. I guess that pretty much sums up the moral of the story. Thank. Thank God or whoever you may think is responsible for life to be the way it is for you. Whatever you need would be granted automatically if you need it.

Let me end with a quote from "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho: "When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." So, stop worrying about waiting for divine intervention and thank for what you've already got and work towards what you want.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Music without a poking conscience

Are you a music addict or at least a fanatic? Do you have a music collection that dwarfs the collection of all the items in your house/PC put together? Well, good for you but... wait for it... bad for you too? Cross your heart and ask yourself if all of them were legally bought or at least in someway benefited the artist? I know that the majority of you would say "No"!

You want to have a clear conscience and still be able to listen to all songs from all artists without paying for it? Come to the world of streamed music. When I started out on this quest 10 years ago, the Internet was slow and I mean S.L.O.W. with just dial-up connections with fees both to the ISP and the telephone call charges. At that point, there weren't any streaming sites and the concept of streaming was nascent. It was the height of the Software Boom in India and the Piracy business was booming too. It is a debate for another day that Piracy still keeps booming no matter what goes bust but people preferred to own the tracks with them to listen to what they want, when they want but that scenario has now changed after TRAI defined broadband as a minimum of 256Kbps and all ISPs were forced to upgrade their so-called Broadband connections of 64k and 128k connections to 256k minimum.

Now came the era of decent speeds and simultaneously better streaming formats and technologies. Podcasts became ubiquitous and YouTube proved to be the mammoth success with all sorts of videos being shared from all over the world without flooding each other's mailboxes.

Granny's Radio Party

Then came umpteen Internet radio stations play latest hits for free with a little bit of unobtrusive ads that can be put up with. After all, you are getting the songs for free but this still did not cut it as the playlists were decided by the radio station and it wasn't song on demand. With everything on demand, songs forced on to your ears were a bit too much. To our rescue came the saviour in the form of Streaming sites for audio just like YouTube is for video. Although they had come to the scene before video (read YouTube), streaming video galvanised this market and put it on top gear.

Today, you google it and there are a million station and streaming sites that let you play your favorite songs with extremely low ad content that doesn't take the fun away one bit and keep your conscience clear as well. You might say that they don't have Indian songs but you'd be surprised. I was.

Here are a few for you, my loyal blog reader:

Streaming:

GrooveShark:  http://listen.grooveshark.com for both Indian and international songs and also has radio

Music India Online: http://musicindiaonline.com

Raaga: http://www.raaga.com

Radio:

Shoutcast: http://www.shoutcast.com has a huge listing of radio stations according to genres, countries, language etc.

Tamil Radios: http://www.tamilradios.com live streams of many tamil radio stations in case you are not in the city that the station plays or of you don't have access to a traditional FM radio set.

Happy Listening and happy reading.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bliss

The word says it all. My state of mind, my life, my situation and my environment. All in a  perfect state of bliss. I feel lucky to have this today. Not many are happy with their lives and the mess they're in but I am finding everything finally falling into place.

After months, if not years of restlessness, I've found peace. Great Job, Good Financial position, Good relationships, good interests and Most of all TIME. Time and freedom to do what I want, when I want. Unlike others of my age who still have earning parents which enables them to splash their  money on all the usual Post liberalisation capitalistic pleasures, I being the sole earning member of the family have learnt pretty early, I should say, to balance my cheques and check my balances.

Although I occasionally indulge in those pleasures, my situation has taught me to be in control. Witnessing, first hand, the torturous life gone through by people who didn't budget their assets & liabilities, has taught me to be frugal yet not cheap. There is a fine line separating the two and I am learning the ropes of not crossing that line.

The factor that inspired me to break my laziness and make this post was "Today". Yes, the day. Today is especially  good. Started off on a very nice note. My PC2 saw the light of Windows 7 finally, after a long make-do with Windows XP on a 2.5GB HDD. That enables my sis to watch videos, listen to music on HER PC now without troubling me anymore. My new bike's Engine is becoming more and more used to me and looks like I'm also beginning to read its mind. It's been really smooth ride. The ride to office today was amazing. Just zipped and zoomed.

I know, I know, don't jump off your seat asking how that was possible in Bangalore's Traffic. Yes, I was amazed too. To help my ride, the roads were particularly empty today. The usual culprits - the Lingarajapuram flyover and the KR Puram Railway station under-bridge were also EMPTY. Read it E.M.P.T.Y. empty! I was shocked! Pleasantly. That and the weather. Well, what can I say. Bangalore has always had good weather but it was looking like Global warming has finally caught on to Bangalore too and the heat never seemed to subside but then what happened? As usual, something unusual happened as Bangalore always has surprises for us in terms of weather. Cyclone Laila! Now, it looks like I'm in the middle of Monsoon. The weather's just mind-blowing. Perfect for Garam Chai and Pakoras in the afternoons and also Long bike rides. Although, I can't do it just yet, I'm looking forward to the weekend.

What is it? "My life can be better"? Yes it can but I don't care. The crux here is, as clichéd as it may be, to not look at the glass  being half-empty but at it being half-full. Living the moment!

To top all this, I'll finish off by talking about the ever hot topic of all times: Movies. 3 Super movies releasing this weekend. Looking forward to that. You ask which ones? I thought you already knew. You didn't? WTF! Are you locked up in a Bunker in Afghanistan? Get a life. Get your ass off that seat of yours and go watch these: "Kites", "Shrek: Forever after 3D", and if you are a Tamilian and/or understand Tamil, don't miss out on "Kola Kolaya Mundhirika" which has Crazy Mohan's dialogues and is supposedly an out-and-out comedy family entertainer. So, busy weekend ahead. Wishing you all the best for a satisfying life similar to mine. Happy reading. Ta for now.

Friday, March 26, 2010

What is it about marriages? Why is it such a big deal?

A friend of mine got married recently and then the most irritating question that I had to face from anyone who came to know about this news was "So, when are you getting married?". I know, I know. Everyone faces this question at some point in your life and feel that you aren't old enough, but my case is different. How, you ask? Here's how:

The answer to that question is "I'm not getting married" which means not I'm not getting married now or for a few years but I'm not getting married, ever!

Now, everyone, including you, Yes, you! would immediately start judging me if I'm sane or has something gone wrong with me. Let me make this clear. I have nothing against the institution of marriage and I'm not like Kamal Haasan or anybody to say such things. All I'm saying is that I don't want to get married.

marriage-stamp

Why is it that people find it so difficult to digest this fact. Whenever this argument pops up, it invariably ends in the other person judging me to be incorrigibly insane and hoping that some day I'd change my decision, eventually and most certainly.

This decision was made, not recently. It was made when I was in school and people said I was too young to understand life so I'd change pretty soon. Now, 10 years later, my conviction has only gotten stronger with my experiences and other's plight in this complex world of social living.

I like my life the way it is. I don't want to introduce unnecessary complications by bringing in another person into it forcibly. Now, here come my justification for my decision.

Point 1: If I were duplicated, the other me wouldn't want to live with me. I'd just be intolerable. I know it. Trust me.

I feel everyone should ask this question to themselves before getting married. It'd reduce the number of divorce cases in the world.

Point 2: I know what all the person (whoever it is) has to sacrifice if they have to be able to live with my family and adapt our culture and way of living. Let's face it, however open and unorthodox a family is, it is still new to the bride. A strange new world unseen of earlier.

This is a major reason why inter-caste and inter-religion marriages are still not done in India. It is not about the religion. It is about daily life. How someone brushes, what time they get up, what duties they perform on a daily basis, how they greet someone, how they move socially etc etc. Each religion and caste has their own unique ways and would find it difficult to accept  a new way. Let me make myself clear (in case this blog is pulled-up against me years later by media and before they misquote me, leading to all sorts of controversies). I AM NOT SUPPORTING RELIGIOUS BIAS but let's be practical and think for a moment. How many of you have gone to another city and found it really difficult to cope with the way it functions compared to your home city. "Home sweet Home" as the cliché goes, right?

If that is the case with just a city, then why not for a life partner and the way you are going to live the rest of your life?

There are so many other factors such as financial stability before one gets married which for sure, I’m not even remotely close to achieving yet. Forget spouse. I can't even support myself for a few months if I get laid off suddenly (God forbid). One might say, that's just temporary, soon I’ll be able to do all that but is that completely true? Ask yourself, were you able to buy that dream car after getting married (with your hard-earned money, not got in dowry), that you always wanted when you were a bachelor? And how many people still live in slums and have kids and grand kids to take care of. Have they managed to come out of poverty after marriage? Is marriage some kind of a miracle that solves all your problems? No. Definitely not. Further, it only adds to your woes.

OK. Let's digress a bit and say that I, indeed, change my mind and get married one day. Why does it have to be a responsibility of others to have told me to do so? Whenever this topic comes up, everyone just assume that it is their utmost responsibility to change my mind. Why can’t it be my own decision? So what if I never change my mind? Why can’t people respect that? Why is it so difficult? What is it that makes people detest bachelorhood like plague. Is it jealousy? As the old Tamil saying goes “யாம் பெற்ற இன்பம் இவ்வையகமும் பெற வேண்டாமா? ” meaning that the world has to experience the pleasures that I have.

The other conclusion that they might jump into is that I might gay. No people, I'm not GAY. I'm pretty straight. Let me make that crystal clear.

Then there is the question of "Who would stand by your side when you're old?” Let me answer that question with another. What if your wife dies before you and what if you aren't blessed with kids or worse, what if your kids abandon you? Then what? Isn’t that just pathetic? I’ll just save enough money to get myself admitted into an old age home and spend my old age with similar people. And there's the Internet for social life. I anyways am not such a social being who needs to be out all the time. I'm more of an indoor person.

Turn to any channel that talks about marriages and the first thing they make fun of is how their partner is a pain in the smallest of things of everyday life. And ask any married man and he’d say don't ever get married but when it comes to seriously considering such an option, they all turn against it. I simply don't understand!

Then there is the evergreen saying of “Behind every successful man, there is a woman”. Well, why can't that woman be one's mother or sister. Does it necessarily have to be one's wife?

Finally, I conclude with the obvious facts that everyone ends this topic with. Is AB Vajpayee married. Is APJ Abdul Kalam married? Who were the women behind these great personalities’ success? I wonder. I urge everyone to respect and accept a person’s decision about marriage whatever be it.

Disclaimer: If this post has hurt the feelings or sentiments of anyone, I apologise as I did not mean to do so. This post speaks in general about everything and does not intend to specify/identify/associate with anyone or their views.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Skull Guard!

Got this, to guard my skull while taming my beast.

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My Winged beast!

Hi folks. I’ve come back to post the pics of my winged beast that I’m currently taming. The Honda unicorn. 150cc of pure pleasure. Have a look and Enjoy!

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