Monthly Archives: September 2005

Dreams

Did some weird stuff yesterday, that totally messed with my biological clock… Slept at 2000, got up at 0200 well in the night, played SH2 for a good five hours and slept again at 0730.
 
The whole sleeping-at-weird-times resulted in some weird dreams. I do not recollect the complete dream in any of the case, but remember three disctinct sessions…
 
I: I was in some kind of quasi-military ship. I do not recall the purpose of the ship, the mission if any, and my role in the whole thing. But some one had taken over the ship, or some one was a big traitor, and had opened the valves to the ship’s hold (maybe it was a submarine or something), and the ship was slowly sinking. It took a lot of time to sink. By the time we realized, there was water on the deck. There was no open deck as such, but the main corridor of the ship was starting to flood, and the water was reaching the main door of the ship. We jumped out, and I think I woke up then… The water was rather shallow (or so it appears now!)
 
II: This one involved CAT. It was d-day, and I had finished my verbal in record time, with a large number of attempts. And then started off with PS (that’s problem solving, in feline speak). I do not know why, but I felt this urgent need to discuss something with the person sitting beside me. There were two of them, actually. Now, in the real CAT, you sit alone. No, I do not remember who they were. But needless to say, the invigilator was not happy with me chit chatting. And the best part was that I was not asking for a solution, but it was some general talk, like the weather or something. I lost track what happened then, but I was separated from the class (after a warning), and one of the other fellow’s paper was taken away. I was caught taking to another chap this time, I think he wanted my eraser or something. Spent a good amount of time explaining it to the supervisor, and in panic, glanced at the watch, which seemed to have stuck. Time was still, or moving very slowly. I was happy, I’d have loads of time now, even with all the stupidity. I woke up sometime later.
 
III: This one is personal, and won’t be shared here. Sorry. But, so as to give a fair idea, it involved testing my resolve, or something on the lines of bending the rules, and losing something in that cause… The scenario setting was utterly ridiculous though!
 
That’s it for now. Analysis welcome!
 
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BTW, what’s with gals colouring their grays to look stylish? With reds, or browns? I mean, come on… That’s not your natural hair colour, and it does not hide your grays, I still know where they were… Big deal.
 
Of course, I am given to understand that some do it because it looks good, and I have seen some of those kind too. But this is not what the above is about.

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Quickie Update

I was back on Monday, and though wanted to blog about the whole trip, and everything, did not do so… Too bored. And so, after a whole Monday wasted sleeping, I attended college on Tuesday, and came home to find Stronghold 2 downloaded. Installed it, and played it into the wee hours of the morning…
 
Needless to say, missed college on Wednesday. (And played the whole day, again!)
 
Today we have the freshers’ welcome in the college, another reason for me to bunk. But, I’ll go and come back in the afternoon, can’t keep a game waiting you know!
 
So, will postpone the blog post for the Embedded Systems Workshop, and project work, and studies (A SimCAT included!) for some other time now.

Where do we draw the line?

This is going to be a biggie! Take your time, read it in two steps, whatever…
 
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There are two kinds of people in the world (maybe more, but two suffice for this post) – those who would spring to action at the slightest provocation, are extremely domain sensitive, and others who are more laid back, and would read into the current situation before acting.
 
The problem is, the first kind donÂ’t always like method of functioning of the second kind, and vice versa. The first often call the second fattu, so to say. The second call the first extremist, and are amused at the reaction they develop at the very slightest incitation.
 
I would consider myself to belong to the second group. But it was not always so.
 
The sad part of being in the first group is that often one thing leads to another, and there being no end to this leading process, the argument never really ends, especially if you have another of the first kind at the other end. Too many resources are wasted by either party to make the other see their point. ItÂ’s just too much of a conservative attitude, and often achieves nothing, since the concerned people still end up doing what they want.
 
The other, more important aspect of the whole she-bang is that with the first group, you never really know the true level of the competitor, if you want to call them that. If you respond immediately to their instigation, you never get to see the plane to which they will stoop to get you angry and moving. It almost feels sad, such is human nature, because you can never get to the what if scenario unless you become one of the second group.
 
But, if not done right, this approach can cause major trouble: loss of domain. Something belongs to you. Maybe you earned it rightfully; maybe someone gave it to you. People expect you to protect it, be possessive about it. It is supposed to be your thing. So if someday someone treads along, and decides to take it away from you, what do you do?
 
If you are from the first group, you get your bombard cannons ready, and start shooting away. If your opponent is just checking, heÂ’ll run away. If he darn wants to have your stuff, heÂ’ll fight. Then starts the one thing leads to another process of mutual destruction, causing a lot of pain, heart burn, and in general waste. And best of all, in the end you just might lose it, anyway. But yes, you fought! So if you manage to scare the other chap off, you are declared hero in your domain.
 
If you are from the second group, you will take out your binoculars, and observe the intruder. Try to figure out his plans. You would not confront the person directly, but sort of prepare a game plan, things that can cause obstructions to that chaps expansion in your domain. Often, these things are so subtle that you and your opponent never get the signs. Anyhow. Your opponent decides to bring in his battering ram. You still are observing him. Because the technology of that battering ram fascinates you. And you are lured by the new siege weaponry the outsider is bringing towards you. You want to really know the reach of this fellow. ItÂ’s a perfect human nature thing – curiosity.

But, while your domain is being breached, the stuff inside the domain does not have a play day. ItÂ’s horrible for them. They suffer. And while you are doing stuff to stop the intrusion, itÂ’s all so tacit that your domain never gets it. They feel you are a useless oaf, who does not care about his domain. This is a severe problem. You could end up loosing the faith of your domain. Suddenly, you will yourself realize this, and since it is too late anyway, youÂ’ll give away your domain to the intruder, just like that. You simply will care no more.
 
But, in retrospection, you really wanted that domain to be yours. You will feel sad. Sorry even. Because in reality, you are much better provider for that domain. But there will be nothing to be done.
 
The issue here is to find a balance between the two. How do we determine if the intruder is just looking, or wants to stage a coup? It is often compounded by the fact that most people come looking, and feel that, “Hey, this is so easy to take over. And the domain is so insanely beautiful. Let’s take it over!” Trouble!
 
Of course, sometimes these just looking people are so dumb, that they are never really going to be able to throw you out of your domain. They are those kinds of people who fire the trebuchet with such a bad aim, that the burning wood and stone will land miles away from your stronghold. There is no point really, fighting them. In fact, you can come out of your castle; invite them over and have a nice tea party with cup cakes and muffins. You should not fear at all.
 
The others however, you should look out for. Because they are often just not seen before the damage is already done. They’ll bore holes that open up inside your fort. They’ll destroy you from within, without you even knowing it. Some very crafty ones will even make your domain throw you over. So, suddenly one fine day you get to your throne and what do you see – there’s someone else sitting on it, and he has a crown, that’s bigger and heavier than yours! “Whoa! What happened here?”
 
The trick therefore, is to be able to figure out when to be of the first group, and when the second. Where do you draw the line? Experience is the best teacher, and then some. Even so, your domain must realize this, that you have the experience (provided you really have it, of course), and must trust you. Sadly, in real life, thatÂ’s not very true and you more than not, end up having an internal fight while confronting an external issue.
 
Makes you want to pull out your hair, all the time. Such is life.
 
Maybe the next time round, if I am in the mood, will drop in a few examples.
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Am off to Gandhinagar (DA-IICT) tonight for the Two Day Intensive Workshop on Embedded Systems. Back on monday. See ya!

One solitary plant

Another of the queer posts today…
 
There is this empty space between the new building and the old building of my college. Turns out, the original plan was that the empty space would afford better lighting in the corridors, and the ground floor could be developed as a lawn. But, as all typical development plans tend to, the lawn has taken a back seat, and the quadrangular stretch of plot continues to remain as it was, barren and muddy brown, with some scrap thrown in here and there, and a few rain water puddles…
 
Except for this one plant that has taken firm footing bang in the center of the empty space. It is a solitary plant, about three inches high, and has exactly four leaves on two stems. I have no clue as to what species the plan belongs, or who planted it there, or if it grew all by itself, but the sight is pretty amusing…
 
ItÂ’s just one green plant, on a brown background, just sitting there, completely unconcerned (or so it seems) about what happens all around it.
 
Maybe will post some updates about it sometime later, till I leave SPCE. Maybe if no one really cares to uproot it, which I see no reason to do, some time later when I shall return to my alma-mater (Whoa, I actually called it that!), will probably find it to have grown to some appreciable size, and then will have loads of fun recollecting this post…

Is this how it’s meant to be?

There has been this nagging doubt at the back of my head, and it’s high time I wrote about it. But that’s what this blog post will talk about. Before that, I need to clarify that I am going to try and write about this in the most genearalized manner, so let’s hope that it comes out that way, and still makes sense. You might want to skip this post, it’s long, and possibly boring.
 
Small things. Like this blog. I often wonder, in fact, after I write very single post, the thought runs: Is this really what I wanted to write about? What do I want to portray my blog as? A technological showcase, a rant column, or something personal? Does my blog convey what I am? Does it do justice to me? Does it represent what I want it to? There are definite advantages and approaches for each of the above.
 
The problem gets compounded because I don’t know what I want it to be. In another perspective, I don’t know what I want me to be. A geek? An emotional empathizer? A self-centered snob? The cute puppy you can snuggle with? The sadest part is that sometimes it turns out that I run from one identity to the other. Which is even worse. Cause then that is not me. It is a manifestation of what I think I want to be at that particular occassion. It’s horrible.
 
It’s always about the small things. Stuff that you do unnoticed. The way you react to situations. I for one strongly believe that I do things that in some way or the other will benefit me. That benefit might be trivial, in fact, it could simply be entertainment for that moment. But if it’s that, then that thing has worth. This viewpoint brings a very important personality trait, I need purpose. But is it that way always? I can’t answer that. I am not that detached from myself to view myself from a standalone observer perspective.
 
Sometimes, I do believe that I do things just for the heck of it. But is that really what it is? Or is it that subconsciously there exists some purpose, which in the short term does not appear as clearly?
 
Moving on, of late, I have been visualizing an idealistic world for some reason. A world which is exactly opposite to this phrase: “Expecting the world to be nice to you because you were good to it, is like being a vegetarian and expecting that a bull will not charge towards you.” There is a deep craving for an idealistic world. I cannot locate a cause for this yearning.
 
It’s not that my life is insecure, or that I have problems which if not taken care of are going to cause me serious trouble. But then, where does this feeling come from? The other day I was watching this episode of Gilmore Girls, and an unexpected twist landed in, which has the potential (I have not yet seen it actually change into what I think it will) of completely upsetting the ideal world, as it had become in the series. I felt frustrated in the way the writers took the story.
 
My logic says that there is no real point in an ideal world. But the human emotion in me wants one. Though, I know, the real emotion thrives in an pragmatic, and un-ideal (Gaah, can’t figure a good word) world. But still, there is this one part of me who absolutely does not want to give up on the ideal world concept. Why cannot things be the way they should be?
 
Now, before I start blabbering incoherently, let’s hunt for a conclusion. Where does this love for the ideal world come from? From whatever limited psychology and sociology I know, it surfaces when one is insecure. Or when one does not know what to do. Kind of like a fear of the unknown. It occurs when we forsee some change in the future, and we do not want it. We resent it. We try to escape to this ideal world, an image of which we create ourselves.
 
The problem is: I don’t know what it means for me. I, for one, don’t really know why this feeling crops up. I have had bouts of self discovery and realization, but never before have I yearned for an ideal world before. This is really strange. And what’s sad is that, I’ll never quite know what caused this at this stage. It’ll be apparent only when the change, if at all any, has taken place. And then it already it too late.
 
I guess, I should move on to my preparation for the class test on Relays. Enough useless pondering, if you want to call it that.
 
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You are free to comment or ask questions, but as a matter of policy, I won’t be replying to any of the comments made to this particular post.

Hackers and Painters

This might be a very small post indeed:
 
Got hold of the book, Hackers and Painters, by the great Paul Graham.
 
Just read the first chapter yet, and trust me, it’s uber. There are very few books around that present such a perspective, of not only software and code, but also of life, society and this world in general.
 
It’s the same feeling that Keeanu Reevs had in character as Neo in the original Matrix: “I know Kung Fu!” And the best part is, the feeling comes time and again with every new essay by Paul, or Joel, that I read.
 
The book, indeed, comes highly recommended. A must read.

Dumb, dumb, dumb!

Maybe I should start a special blog for these kind of rants. But then again, since they make up quite an essential part of my blog, and contribute to its volume, I just might let them be here… Anyhow, here goes:
 
We had, after our OOAD Ma’am getting quite frustrated with us not doing any real work on Rational Rose, our first OOAD lab session. Ok, I better redefine that. My first job as the system admin. Or something like that.
 
I was the one who had the installation media for Rational Rose. Had got that from Swapneel. Originally, our lab sessions were scheduled to be held in the IT Department’s labs, but due to the typical bureaucracy and red-tapism, that kind of did not work out. So we decided to install our own version of Rose in our own Electrical department computer labs. (Those are the very same labs about which I had ranted earlier, where the CD writers were inaccessible.) So, I was given charge to install and set up the CASE tools.
 
Hmmm.
 
Now some background about Rational Rose. First, it’s old. They don’t sell it anymore, cause IBM took over it and morphed it into something far more scarier. More scarier? Purists may please excuse. But the thing is, the installation media is two CD ROMS. The license file is on the second CD ROM, so you run the setup from the first CD, get the licence from the second, then swap the CDs again to get to the install program, which then needs the second CD again to install special components, that is, the Microsoft JVM, after which you pop in the first CD back in. It’s not over yet. You then are told that some files had CRC errors, and that the installation will not be complete unless you restart. Ok. You restart. And then it does some sort of dll registrations, and launches the Release Notes. Whew!
 
But that’s not what this is about. It is about how we installed them.
 
First, since the CD ROM drives were not available to us, the lab assistant suggested we copy the CDs over to the server, that is, after deliberating whether the server had enough space. (Yes, it had more than enough space, 47 GB in fact.) But the CD refused to copy over to the server. So that plan flopped.
 
He then suggested that he’d give me access to the CD ROM Drives, and I could install the software locally. Nice. He asked me to wait, while he got the screw driver…
 
Come again?
 
Yes, the screw driver.
 
Apparently, the CD ROM drive was inaccessible not because I did not have administrator rights, but because they had physically removed the IDE cable from the drive. Gaaaah!
 
You can do the same stuff using administrative options, or setting up the BIOS. But no. We will never do that!
 
So here’s what I was expected to do. Shut down. Open up the machine, connect the IDE cable to the drive. Start the machine. Install Rational Rose, after all the swapping and juggling, reboot once. Shut down again, remove the IDE cable, screw the cover back and finally switch back the machine. Wow. Or, gaaaah!
 
But, since it’s me, and I am a trifle smarter than your next average geek, I did some automation. Opened up only two machines. Enabled their drives. Put in both the CD ROMs. Shared them. And mass installed them. Life would have been much simpler if I had thought of this in the first place.
 
Oh and yes, I almost forgot to mention, since installation of almost any software needs administrator rights, I had to keep calling the lab assistant every now and then. Sooner than later, he got fed up, and gave me the admin password. Nice. And I did not even have to crack that using some key logger or recovery program. Very nice.
 
Anyway, if people have dumber experiences than this, please comment.
 
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Ameya Hate, another friend of mine, scored a 1530 at the GRE. Kudos.
 
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UPDATE: Replaced all instances of practicals in the post with lab sessions. They sound kewler, and are the real thing. There is no such thing as practicals.

The Dust Bin

This is going to be a weird post.
 
There is a new shiny dust bin, or if you want to call it that, the collective karchra peti, to dump garbage from the various societies, collected by the kachra-walli, typically found on the roadside, provided by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
 
Anyway, this new shiny dust bin that I talk about, is really shiny. It’s metallic gray and blue. Well, it is metallic gray, not aluminium gray but steel gray. That explains the shiny part. And it is encased in some sort of a HDPE trolley, which is painted blue.
 
It looks damn smart, is very compact, and can be picked up and the garbage eaten up by the Yellow Garbage Compactor. But I digress.
 
The whole point of this blog post was to comment on the new shiny dust bin, which the BMC has gladly given a number. And that number is (no, not 42, that is rapidly becoming a cliché) 1024.
 
Well, that’s such a perfect power of 2. I could not resist blogging about it. I mean, come on, it’s a new shiny dust bin… But what a number! 1024!
 
Oh ok, I did say this was going to be a weird post.
 
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UPDATES:
  • I am going to be jacked by my project mentor. Nothing done, absolutely nothing done in quite some time!
  • Swapneel got a 1510 in his GRE.
  • Started off with JSP today. Beans too!
  • Going to attend a two-day workshop on Embedded Systems organised by the IEEE Gujarat Section and DA-IICT on 24th and 25th of September. Details here. The basic problem is procuring train tickets!
  • Was going to blog about something far more serious here, but will push it for some other time now. Maybe I won’t even blog about it, it’s kinda personal.
  • Sagar’s hair has been feeling strange since quite some time now. I have no clue why.
  • My college decided to clear some 10 odd people who were massacred by the Sem 6 results. Good job. Congrats to those who cleared.
And now, with more sleep deprivation than ever, I end this blog post.

Co-incidence?

Well, I made a post a few days back, about my real experience with crows, written some time back. Read it here.
 
And then, someone called Revs, posted a comment on it.
 
As any blogger would, I decided to trace who this Revs is. And I hit her blog. And look what I found there
 
Hard to believe. Even harder to accept. Yes, it’s in a slightly different tone, but then, it’s there!
 
And it was posted there on my b’day!
 
Explanations welcome!

And then it was no more…

The following was penned by me, on the 19th of May, 2003. It is a real life incident, that happened at my old residence. Happy reading. Comments welcome.

 

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This is what could happen to you, if you live in the proximity of a real tree in an urban jungle –

 

The old drumstick tree has stood the test of time. While we enjoy its drumsticks, it toils in the sun and the burning concrete, providing respite to the numerous sun-birds that flock to it in its bloom. This summer saw another guest – a crow couple. Having someone in the house interested in animals and birds meant regular updates on their nest-building status. After numerous attempts and equal failures, they finally did it! Built a nest right outside the balcony – where the branches spread out.

 

And so it began. Talking to the crows. Listening to their ‘caw caw’. Feeding them. Cursing them when they did not take what we gave them. Advising them to build a stronger nest. That’s the beauty of human nature. And then there were those young crows; crowlets maybe? The parent crows would take turns to feed them; right into their crowing mouths. The ritual would continue and they would grow, with the parents maintaining a constant vigil. Day and night. Week after week. We’d help them too – shooing people we thought were disturbing them.

 

And one fine morning it was no more. No baby crows, no nest, no branch – just the wailing parents. Last seen sleeping in the comfortable nest just ten minutes before, they were now lying dead on the ground. With the nest crumpled besides them and the branch horribly twisted. There were speculations – some idiot must have been tempted by the drumsticks. Human nature at work again. Little did that rascal know that drumstick branches are weak, and they crack, and fall down; bringing with them what was the start of a new life.

 

It was all over. We could do nothing. Except to clear the road of the branch; and provide the new-borns a decent burial; away from the vultures and the rats. And curse in the name of the unknown who did that. Even if we believe in nature’s natural selection, it is human tendency to sympathize – so what if it was for some crows? Those poor crows kept flocking back, as if some miracle would turn back time; and restore their nest, their efforts of an entire month. But that was not to happen. Or was it?

 

It did happen. But it was another nest, another pair. And the world goes by, to begin all over again – where it all ends lies the root of new beginnings!

 

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There is no drumstick tree at the new place. But we have planted one, and it’s growing just fine. Crows, they are here too, and at this given moment, two nests are visible, bang outside the kitchen dry balcony, alebit on the mango tree!