Monthly Archives: October 2005

Memories

One of the beauties of being technically adept, and a sucker for storing everything that can be, is that unmanageable amounts of backups taken every time the hard drive is formatted accumulate in the obscure sectors of the said drive over time in otherwise organized folders called Backup – yearmonthdate (like Backup – 20020506).
 
Wow, that was a big sentence. Breathe!
 
So, here I am, fresh from the nostalgia. What nostalgia, you ask? Well, just for fun, I decided to wade through the much and figure out what lurked in those gigabytes of backup folders… And guess what? Long lost stuff, which wasn’t really needed, but still exists for reasons beyond explanation, my desktops at the time of formatting, preserved as fresh, my customizations, my shortcuts, my macros, and a whole lot of stuff which for some reason was never recalled into their proper folders once the format was complete.
 
Some stuff that really made me wait and read / see:
 
Photographs, taken using a very standard film camera and scanned, circa 2003: My school farewell, my first college photographs, my first traditional day in college, photos taken when I was about two feet high, and what not. People looked a lot different, sometimes even in the pictures from 2002! I even found a pic of mine with a proper moustache, when I had one… Yes, it looks kinda horrible!
 
Mailing lists for mass-mailers during Diwali, Christmas, Dussera, New Year’s and even Valentines!
 
My C/C++ programs over the years.
 
Saved games from the yesteryears! Including but not limited to SimCity, Harry Potter, Zeus, Age of Empires, Doom…
 
PDFs on stupid stuff.
 
A small cache of MIDIs and WAVs, painstakingly downloaded over stupid internet connections that were more finicky than the girl presenting herself at a coming of age ceremony.
 
Some very old mails and chat transcripts. Damn, I used to write soooooo differently.
 
A virus.
 
And much much more… Stuff that probably will be classified as unmentionables.
 
Well, I am very deep down the memory lane now. This is beautiful.
 
==============
 
I case you are wondering why there were no updates for the past few days:
 
Submissions. All done. Except for the elective: OOAD.
 
AoE3. Finally! Maybe will talk about it in a separate post. Maybe not. But get it. No RTS player should miss it. Slightly disappointing though.

Advertisements

Music Shops Come of Age

In case you haven’t noticed already, and I still will be pretty amused if you really haven’t, online music shops are really coming up big time. And they are doing really good too!
 
First, Apple hit it huge with the iTunes Store, which just opened up it’s Australian website down under. Many me-too sites have come up, following iTunes, wanting to cash on in the opportunity. At 99 cents per song, it’s not that very expensive by American standards. Plus, the satisfaction of a legal download. But this is not a post about that.
 
This post is instead a showcase about the VSNL – Tata Indicom and SoundBuzz collaboration. Yes, it’s a music store, targeted to the Indian audience. You need to have a VSNL Internet Account, and the same ID can be used to login to the online store. There is a decent selection (over 300000 tracks) from SONY BMG, Warnern Music, EMI and Universal. And each download costs something between Rs. 8/- to Rs. 20/- per song.
 
What is interesting is the revenue model. The amount is deducted from your VSNL account, or if you are with post-paid plans, you get a bill for those downloads. The downloads themselves are in WMA format, and the site uses DRM allows you to make three copies of the file. One for the host machine, the other for your supported portable player, and a third for burning to a CD.
 
The way this has been tied about the VSNL account is awesome. It speaks volumes about the market strategy being used by the moguls of the Tata Industries. Hats off to them!
 
As far as I can tell, when they start advertising this explicitly, people are going to get hooked. Yes, the cost is a little deterring at present, but if iTunes is any indication, people will still flock to it. This has interesting repercussion for the entire Indian music industry. Hope they don’t screw it up!
 
Even more, it means that companies are growing up to recognize the potential. And that internet is growing in India. If a company can decide to actually go the distance by setting up a working e-shop, they are already there. Wonder what is the current download rate… This is going to be one hell of a thing to follow!
 
I’m simply glad that this is happening in my lifetime.
 
===============
 
DISCLAIMER: I do not work for, or endorse, or receive any renumeration for this post. Though if any one feels that this blog is a good enough medium, I’ll be willing to consider.

Hands off my Monitor

I don’t quite understand the obsession that people have with monitors. They like to touch it, point stuff by actually using their digits, as if I would never understand what they want me to see if they read it out to me, or indicate in the general direction without making physical contact.
 
No, that never goes into their head. Never.
 
And I hate hands on my monitor. Sweaty, greasy fingers that leave prints on the display. Which I cannot stand, as I said before, and so the moment someone does that, I rush to get my trusty lint free cloth and swipe the grime off my monitor.
 
Time and again I try to convince people to try and not do it, but till date, I have had very limited success.
 
Worse are those who come along, and think of the computer as some sort of book: They keep their finger on the word they are reading, and slide it across the screen as they read… Gaaaah! Not only does this reduce their reading speed, but also unleashes horrible unspeakable torture on my poor display!
 
Needless to stay, I glare at said people. Shout even. And if they still don’t agree, restrain their hands! Maybe someday I’ll get gloves made, so that people who cannot do without touching my monitor can wear them, and I’d still live life peacefully. Till then, don’t come near it, if you can’t keep your hands off my monitor!
 
===================
 
I own a Samsung SyncMaster 955DF. A 19″ CRT.

Relevancy to the Market

There was this article at /. about the VoIP backlash from phone companies. To give a gist: Telecom Companies in certain nation such as France, Germany, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are blocking VoIP packets, including Skype.
 
The motive behind this is not difficult to decipher. It makes sound business decision for the telco, especially so, because most telcos in the world currently rake in the moolah from PSTN and international calls. VoIP will blow this revenue away.
 
I, however, feel that they are shooting themselves in the foot. The entire world will shift to VoIP, because it is cheaper than the conventional way of maintaining a link between the caller and the called. The market is changing.
 
Telcos with long-term planning will notice this, and try and adapt. They’ll try and become relevant to the current market by introducing their own VoIP plans, at dirt cheap rates. There is a lot of money to be made, even today, by providing more connections at cheaper cost. Any student of Economics 101 will tell you about the demand and supply curve.
 
Short-sighted telcos, instead, will try to keep the market relevant to their current infrastructure, and try and force obsolete and expensive technology down the customers’ throat. This will only blow the company off into obscurity, making them irrelevant to the market. It’ll soon be their end, as the enlightened customer will move to better plans.
 
How is this relevant to India?
 
We already have the cheapest cellular call rates in the world. Unfortunately, the penetration is still low. Why? Because the dollar is not what most Indians earn in. You cannot say that vis-a-vis the entire world, the Indian telecom industry is the cheapest. No sir, it would be unfair to compare two rupees to five cents. It’s not like the infrastructure cannot be provided. It’s more of profit-mongering. “Go even cheaper. You’ll earn by the numbers.” Alas, they don’t think so.
 
And don’t even get me started on the internet. India has huge bandwidth coming to it’s shores by way of two undersea cables. Where does this bandwidth go? Nowhere. It’s mostly under-utilized. Why? Because the ISPs and telecos have created an artificial scarcity by limiting the bandwidth that one actually gets for any substantial expense.
 
This is really stupid. The connections that MTNL / BSNL sells under the name of broadband is a joke. Of what use is a 256 kbps connection, if I cannot download stuff on it? What the hell is a 500 MB limit? It won’t last me a day! And they can get away with it, because no other company sells anything to compete with it… Why? Because all the other companies too follow the same policy and earn more (or so they think).
 
Get relevant people. India needs bandwidth to do any sort of progress. It is stupid to expect people to go online, and pay exorbitant amounts for the same. Insane infrastructural supply! Japan allows tens of Mbps with free local phone calls, and 100 TV channels along the same fibre for less than $40. Where is the MSO initiative that was coming from Reliance and VSNL?
 
It’s the same for cellular service providers. Be it Airtel, BPL or Orange, all of them more or less charge the same air time rates (with the exception of Dolphin, which though a good service, suffers brand un-recognition due the advertisements from the other brands). Now, even if one of the said providers were to reduce their rates by a fraction, people would go to them. Yes, we are all waiting for the number portability law.
 
The problem is not so much that these companies will suffer loses. They won’t. But because infrastructure is expensive, India as a whole may become irrelevant to the market. (Yes, it is cheaper than the world, but it can be cheaper than this, especially because once the fibre is set up, you have oodles of bandwidth.)
 
Go the whole distance, let us see what we geeks dream of: a real high speed connection with voice, data and multimedia. Get relevant. Or lose out.
 
===============
 
My Hathway connection is up and running. I really love these people. They are listening to me! I am getting speeds slightly less than 256 kbps, but still substantially faster than my earlier connection, and it’s just awesome, at a decent enough charge. This is how it should be, everywhere.

More Musings

This is not going to be one of the most focussed posts on this blog.
 
What is it with girls marrying guys settled in the US and the UK, and then flying off with them to their new nation? It never happens the other way round. The price we pay for a patriarchal society!
 
I’m getting a 256 kbps unlimited connection from Hathway. At 995 bucks per month plus taxes, it’s not the cheapest one around, but then again, it’s 256 kbps. They got the coaxial cable to my place, which is subsequently tested, impedance matched and certified as successfully installed. They will be providing me with a cable modem, which will connect to my new NIC today.
 
The technician who came for testing the cable had a rather ingenious way of impedance matching. He inserted a terminator in the cable, and connected a reference cable modem. Then he asked the control at the other end to ping said modem. If data loss occurred, it was a mismatch, and the processes repeated and by successive approximations, the correct impedance arrived at.
 
The new Video iPod is awesome. Somebody get me one! To know more about the innards of the device, click here [PDF warning].
 
My uncle, Laxman Thite, an architect by profession, recently launched his web-site. Comments welcome.
 
Those with some free time at hand, yes, I am aware that this is really wrong time for all those doing engineering, go here for some fun. And then here.
 
Anyway, the term’s almost ending, and submissions are due. Thankfully, our viva voce exams are after the theory papers this semester, which leaves me quite some time to do my CAT preparation. Wish me luck!

Sex and the City?

WARNING: The following post may be offensive or off-limits to certain factions of the society, and adult approval may be necessary for minors. Of course, the facts mentioned reason otherwise. But this is a statutory warning. Skip to the next post, if need be.
 
====================
 
There have been a lot of statistics in the papers these days: of the early age at which girls and boys have their first sexual intercourse, or activity of some sort, may it be fellatio, or oral sex, as often referred to, or cunnilingus, which for some reason, people fine very repressive… (I cannot understand why, and no, I haven’t personally given someone head, so to say, but then… never mind.) So much so, that there are news articles about how young girls are exceeding boys in the age at which they first experience sexual contact. Or how they crush taboos faster. Or how only 46% of the first-timers use a condom.
 
Some stats, are quite interesting indeed.
 
I wonder who there people are, who have had sex at such an early age. I, for one, am a virgin, at the age of 21. I don’t know if I regret it, or whether it’s got something to do with the Indian society and the blah.
 
Coming back to the point, where are all these boys and girls who have had sex? I am sure they did not stop then. Do you know any of them? Are you one of them? I’d like to meet some of them, you know…
 
And yes, there are also those masturbation stats that pop in and out at times… No one would admit, but I’m sure more than the reported percentages do it. Women in particular, are the ones who would rather shy away from this. But, last known, they do it too, you know.
 
There should be some sort of a policy, like a PQ or a SQ, translating to Pervertness Quotient or Sexual Quotient.
 
I know it’s a taboo and the whole society thing, but seriously, I feel everyone must be enlightened about the whole sex thing, in double quotes.
 
Some gals (and guys too) I know, either lie, or are genuinely unaware of a lot of stuff, which, if they ever, will cause enough frustration to their partners. It’s quite amazing what the internet can give you, and it’s no surprise that pornography is indeed the largest industry online. It’s everywhere, and yet there are people I meet, who haven’t had a clue… I wonder how people cope after their marriage. I mean come on, it’s your life partner, won’t you love some practice before the big night?
 
Now, if you wish to ostracize me, you are welcome!
 
====================
 
Oh yea, and I almost forgot. The front page of BT or ToI, can’t place it, had an article on underage pregnancies amongst women. The figure placed was quite staggering. I wonder who these are, and how they land up in such a situation. First of all, it’s not necessarily a mess, so I won’t call it that, but then I can’t help wonder you know. Second of all, the whole underage thing is kind of funny. Cause, nature made the “mother” capable of begetting the child, so where’s the underage? Oh, you mean the mental underage? Well, it’s all in the head!
 
And what’s with the legal age of marriage for girls being reduced to fifteen, if they consent to it? Some development, huh? Fifteen is like ninth grade, people, eighth for some. This makes for interesting conclusions. I cannot imagine someone in my ninth grade getting married. Yes, it could be just me…
 
====================
 
If you want to rant about the inappropriateness of this post, talk to the hand, I don’t care, and you should not either, since you were forewarned. If you got something sensible, post away.

IIPM and the whole she-bang!

I was not going to blog about this, but after spending a whole hour reading stuff about it, something deserves to be said.
 
But, rather than me saying anything, you decide:
The d00d who started it all:
In the news:
More blogs:
http://absurdiav.blogspot.com/ [Black background warning]
 
If you do a search, I’m sure you’ll find cartloads of more blogs who had their say on this, so I’ll stop now.
 
Yes, I was bored to make good links. Go figure!

Monthly Publications

Everyone (seemingly) subscribes to at least one of those: may it be Readers’ Digest, CHIP, Digit, Femina, Star Dust (or in some cases PlayBoy or PlayGirl, I don’t know!)…
 
And all of these are published at the start of the month. Which means, they all have to be delivered to the customers on time, by the first week of every month.
 
This, quite naturally, places an undue stress on the shipping network (and of course the printing mills). May it be mail, courier or whatever.
 
The result: Undue delays. Some get the magazine earlier than others, severe heart burn when the magazine is out at the news stand even before you as a privileged subscriber did not get it, loads of green envy-laden and red angry faces.
 
So here is a simple solution: Differ the publication.
 
How hard can it be to shift the entire production schedule by fifteen days. You will bring out your magazine on the 15th of the month. Can’t be bad, right? Some other can choose the 7th or the 21st… That way, everything will be well laid out, and pretty efficient.
 
Well, atleast, that’s my two hundred dollar solution. If you use it, remember me, send some moolah. That way, the next time my gray cells decide to do a work out, there’ll be an incentive, plus, I’ll come straight to you!
 
As an addendum: I pitched this idea to Digit, when they had called a few subscribers for magazine appraisal. They did not like it. I have no clue why. It seemed like I was talking some unknown language. They just did not get it. As if I was proposing to publish from the Moon, or the Sun, whatever!
 
==================
 
(When I spell checked this post, my email editor did not have a problem with PlayBoy. Seems to be in its dictionary. Not PlayGirl, however!)
 
==================
 
UPDATES:
  • My ISP, MTNL is doubling it’s rates. Time to go ISP shopping and hopping. Thinking of Hathway. Let you know!
     
  • I am freaked out looking at my semester papers from the previous years. Gosh, they are difficult. I have no clue how I am going to manage this semester! Help!

Prospecting for Brides!

MSN Messenger wants me to marry.
 
“Marriage Proposals by Email. FREE!”
“Click here to find your Life Partner.”
“Search, Find, Marry @ Shaadi.com”
 
Fine. I give in.
 
Two clicks later, I was prospecting for brides.
 
With pictures, bios and what-nots!
 
One read: “I am a professionally genuine female.” Yea, like the others are fake. Or transgendered. Eeks!
 
Another: “I am not really looking for a marriage right now.” Really? Then why post your profile at a marriage bureau? Or you have some sort of obsession of posting it at all places that accept it?
 
Anyway, I spent about two hours looking for a compatible bride. Shortlisted three from ten pages, each with fifteen profiles. Sadly, all of them were older to me. Not that it is a problem in the real sense.
 
Co-incidentally a friend of mine was on the web site too. She too gave in to the constant bickering of MSN (and the boredom of studying for the CAPS test). It was totally unexpected, and we had a laugh about it later on!
 
The general demographic: Has loads of NRIs and what-nots. And the proportion of Muslim girls far outweigh Hindus. Nothing shocking, just slightly strange.
 
I even uploaded my profile, just for fun. Unfortunately, it never cleared the screening process, because I violated some terms and conditions. Yea, as if I care!
 
Another observation: The help desk / support at Shaadi.com has to be one of the best I have seen in some time. They have live chat, email and telephone, all 24×7. My queries got responses in less than five minutes of mailing them!
 
Anyway, so now you know what to do when you are bored in those CAPS pracs.
 
==================
 
CAPS = Computer Aided Power Systems, a compulsory subject to be taken in the VII semester of the Electrical Engineering course offered by the Mumbai University.

In Search of a Job?

I had been to the Railway reservation counter on Sunday morning, and
on the way was accosted by a frustrated chap, with a small back pack. Looked
about 20ish. I had my earphones stuck deep in my ear, and if he spoke to me I
do not recollect, until he held my arm. I removed one of the pods, and glared
at him… He began in English:

“Brother, I am from Bangalore. I was brought here in search of a job, and
tricked.”

Oh no, not one of those again!

“I am seriously fucked up… I have no money, I have been staying on the bus
stand since the past four days. I don’t even have two bucks to pay for the
toilet.”

Gaaah!

“I have spoken to my mother, but she cannot come here because of her legs.”

Right. So now, what do I do? I ask him: “This is all fine, but how do I trust
you?”

He pulls out a bus ticket from his pocket and shows me. “This is my bus
ticket. See it shows the bus registration number as BA-xxx-xxxx.”

Hmmm, looks like a genuine case. I decided to help him. Looked in the wallet
for the smallest denomination note greater than 10. Found a fifty. Gave
him that.

“No, no, I don’t want that…” he said with tears in his eyes.

“Keep it, you’ll need it. Next time, make good decisions in life.”

That was all I said to him, and left. I did not want to get involved anymore. It just was not necessary. I had no time, and I had helped in the best manner
possible to me at that time, or so I felt.

This is the second time this has happened with me. I don’t know if it’s
written somewhere on my face. How come people pick me for this?

The first was with some chap who had had his wallet stolen. He had been to
Esselworld (yeah!) and had no money to go back home. He wanted 22 bucks for
the bus fare. I gave him those, after he showed me the FIR he had filed. It
did look genuine.

Later dad had asked me to confirm if he genuinely had used my money to buy a
ticket. He even told me to buy the ticket myself next time I meet someone like
him, just so that the person does not dupe ten different people with the same
story and get many multiples of those 22 bucks.

People actually do this kind of philanthropy. I have seen many a times people
buying vada-pavs for urchins on railway platforms who claim they have not
eaten since xx days. It’s much better this way, since they do not actually get
money, which could be fraudanty used for other purposes.

Anyway, back to the chap in question. I happened to meet him today again,
while rushing to college. This time, he was with his mom. He recognised me,
and with great emotional display introduced me to his mom. She had that look
in her eyes, which only moms can have. The guy was pretty devastated as such,
and burst into tears yet again…

I really had no time for this, a test was scheduled and I was running late. I
would have loved to know more about him, and how he landed up in this
scenario, but that is not how it was meant to be. I namasted his mom, shook
hands with him, told him to be careful the next time, and parted.

Maybe if some of my readers know where such people can be redirected, please
leave a comment.

=====================

This document was prepared in Writely – The Web Word Processor, based on AJAX.

Unfortunately, the posting did not work from within Writely, so copy pasted it here…