Monthly Archives: April 2006

The Office

I don’t know what is it with British comedies, but they are the best that there is. Hats off to BBC. Yet again!
 
The two seasons of The Office, six episodes each, are a different kind of comedy that takes time to get in the zone (because of the unusual format of the mockumenatry)… But once you are there, you are hooked.
 
The two Christmas specials are especially beautiful… Make you wonder why they did it the way they are doing it, and if they really wanted to do it. It reaches levels… And they are not superficial, somehow. I for one, almost felt sorry for David, and Tim and Dawn. Of course, you can say that it all ends well, but that’s not the point.
 
I wonder if there is an association somewhere. Actually am fairly certain that there is one, but haven’t explored it yet.
 
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One thing is for sure, I’d love my office to be like theirs. Probably not with the characters, though.

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Stupid Template

I absolutely detest the off-white on black Blogger template seen here, for example.
 
If I knew how to, or had the courage to, I’d have killed the person who made it.
 
Kills my eyes! Oh my eyes!
 
Opera User CSS mode, here I come!
 
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Nothing personal with that particular blog, just that I ran into it.

Battling with the System and Other Nonsense

The past week has been the worse computer week in my life.
 
First, for some reason that’s known only to the Sony people who made my DVD Drive and the Moser Baer people, I managed to waste 25 DVDs. They all burned fine, only I can’t read data off them. That’s like two months of downloads!
 
Then, my antivirus (Kaspersky) is about to expire. And I get a trojan. Don’t ask me how, but I managed to catch one as well. That basically screwed up my Windows installation.
 
Very well, since it was already over a year old, I decided to install another copy of Windows in parallel on my other hard disk (so that I won’t have to install all my programs again, at least for the time being, it being viva season and all!). Only, I can’t, because my partition table is, for some weird reason, invalid.
 
Hmmm… So, I get this shiny new Maxtor 250 GB SATA drive from a friend (thanks, buddy) and decide to backup my 160 GB on to that. Only, stupid drive has write rates slower than a floppy! For some reason, the drive won’t have it’s write cache enabled, and so it takes two days for me to copy everything to it. Very well.
 
So, then I format and everything, and the next morning, Yahoo! and Outlook Express decided to tick me off… Apparently, OE reset itself, and so wanted to download all of my mails, right from 2005. That’s around 7862 messages, a total of 506 MB!
 
The forces have combined! So, I first try to contact Yahoo! And the morons at their service center know nothing, and kept sending alternating between two standard responses, even when I try to reason out with them that my problem isn’t solved!
 
Then, I tried to transfer them to another Yahoo! account, since I wanted to retain all my mail for web access, except Yahoo! won’t allow me that. And Gmail won’t collect external mail from Yahoo! So that sucked. I tried some long shot methods, and ended up getting so frustrated, that I deleted all my web mail!
 
And Yahoo! just lost a user. And Gmail gained one. Because Gmail does wonderful stuff with POP3. It pops mails that I send from the web interface, and also adds to the web interface the mails that I’ve send from my client. No other service does that, AFAIK… Wonderful!
 
Anyway, things are slowly returning to normalcy (yes, I know that’s not even a word). But vivas start tomorrow, and project report is yet to see the light of the laser printer…

Not All Companies Provide Bad Service

In fact, some of them are rather excellent.
 
In today’s mass-fabrication-and-not-enough-quality-testing world, most manufacturers accept that out of every thousand products pieces, a few will bomb, choke and die. And rather than eliminating these broken products at their assembly line, they still ship them, and expect the consumer to report to them that these have gone bad. They have set up extensive networks and customer care offices to take care of exactly this. And apparently, it is cheaper this way, for them.
 
So, I’m one of the heavy buyers of said products, and run aground when they give up on me. So far, I’ve had it with Nokia and Intel (and UMAX, but don’t even get me started on that one)… One was horrible, and the other just bearable, but then comes APC, the leading manufacturers of UPS and such stuff…
 
Well, my UPS started acting up, and would not do it’s job, which isn’t so good for the PC. So I decided to report it to APC, since they very generously had given me a two year warranty. First off, I get their local number from the internet. And call a certain Mr. Dominique. He was very kind and helpful, and redirected me to their Bangaluru call centre, which had a toll free number.
 
I called them up. The customer support executive there had a very hard to understand accent, but that’s ok, I can work with that. He did his thing, and verified the product. Except, from his records, it was out of warranty. So I explained to him that I had a bill with the purchase date that was less than two years old. He agreed to log the call, and asked me to fax the bill.
 
Which I did not, since I really had no time. Then one fine day, after about two, actually, APC calls me up, asking me if I was available that day for the UPS check-up. I asked them to come the following day, and one chap from their service partner in Goregaon did indeed appear at the door step.
 
He thoroughly checked the UPS, the battery and decided (with very little intervention from me) that the battery was faulty. And here’s the best part: He had got a spare with himself, replaced mine, and resolved the issue.
 
For free.
 
(Yes, I know it was the warranty. But still. Some others don’t. Or won’t.)
 
Wonderful!
 
Now if only every other company decides to work like them, the world would head a tad towards Utopia.
 
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Disclaimer: I do not hold any association with APC, except that of a happy consumer.

Reservations: Here’s a Solution

There is so much hullabaloo attached to the recent government order that increases reserved seats in the premier Indian educational institutes such as the IITs and the IIMs to a whopping 49.5%. Of course, me being a Brahmin, am one of the affected parties, but this post is not a rant.
 
You can read more about what people from my college are planning to do here. You can sign a petition against this reservation policy here.
 
But that’s not my point.
 
There are other ways to combat this reservation. And it involves giving up the reservation altogether. By the people who accept the reservation.
 
If you are an OBC or any one of the strata of society that has been awarded the reservation, and feel that it is not justified, and that you can achieve whatever it is that the reservations are going to help you achieve by your talent and hardwork alone, do not accept the reservation.
 
How? Don’t supply any supporting evidence that you are an OBC.
 
So, if there is nobody who applies for the reservation, they will eventually have to open up the reserved seats to the general quota or let those go unfilled. General Quota: isn’t that a really strange word? There should be a quota for the reserved stuff, but look, there’s a quota for the general public! Very amusing. Anyway, I digress…
 
Would you do it? Are you confident enough to give up the reservation? If you can, you can truly transform this situation and repeal the reservation policy.
 
As a matter of fact, I have known people who do not accept the reservations, right now in my class. I really appreciate their gesture. However, it won’t work unless everyone who has a reservation decides to do the same… So what say, people?

Meta-Intelligence?

Now, what is that?
 
Easy. Consider managers and workers. Workers work. Managers manage. Workers produce the actual product. Managers do their dumb stuff, and help the workers work. Thus, managers have meta-intelligence. They might not know what the workers work on, or how they do it, but they do what they are supposed to do, and they do it good: manage the workers.
 
Still lost?
 
My parents decide to pay me Rs. 100/- for a certain task, which I don’t necessarily want to do. I pay Rs. 80/- to the next door kid to do that very task, and myself earn Rs. 20/- in the deal. I do not know how he did the task, or what the task was really. I only know it’s done. Meta-intelligence? <This example can be improved>
 
Let’s take one final example.
 
Board exams. Very crucial, career making point. A student decides to cheat, but in a rather interesting manner. He buys a hearing aid, gets it modded to receive radio signals, buys a pair of glasses, mods them to transmit what they see. On the day of the exam, he uses them, the receiver with his friend, who reads out the answers to him over radio. The student knows nothing of the paper he is writing, and yet, if he does not get caught, he’ll ace it.
 
Knowing how to achieve results without knowing what exactly makes you achieve them, is the sort of intelligence that I’m driving towards. Purists will hate it, but it exists. And is possibly the need of the hour.
 
The primary advantage of this meta-intelligence is agility and flexibility. You can do anything. Almost. Because you are building your stuff on top of other stuff. And the biggest disadvantage? The same. Basically, you are abstracting, and abstractions leak.
 
Anyway, the point was: Who do you rate better? The one who has more meta-intelligence? Or the one with more basic knowledge? Because let’s face it, however one might tell you, it isn’t really possible to know it all. Anyone for meta-meta-intelligence?
 
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Link Marathon:
The Escapist Magazine: This is exactly how emags should be. I’ve been sold since the first page.
Infogami: From the creators of Reddit, jhat pat web pages, and only a week old!
Small Oranges: My experiment with Infogami
Joel’s Development Abstraction Layer: One of the better articles around

House M.D.

This one’s just a recommendation for House M.D.
 
Airs on AXN in India, check out the local schedules.
 
[Here’s why: Dr. House is the most cynical, subtle and sarcastic doctor, if not the person, around. Yet he’s the best that there is to being one. Hates to interact with his patients, because he firmly believes that they lie, and that helps no diagnosis. Armed with dual specialization in diagnostics and nephrology, and his team of three very able doctors (one of which is a real cutie), he goes on to cure interesting cases, while the characters ever so gradually reveal themselves, episode by episode.
 
And there’s the hospital administrator, and the chemistry is just perfect, very much on the lines of Dana Scully and Fox Mulder from The X-Files, only in a different, every subtle context.]
 
Thanks to Nadeem for this one. A must watch.

Poor Me

Poor me, I’m floating out to sea
An opportunity that went bad
Poor you, oh what you gonna do
No what you gonna do, you just cry
 
Oh, you always come undone
Try into the sun, you don’t know why
Poor you, I know what you gonna do
Come on love I’ll see it through, I don’t know why
 
I hear you come nearer
I hear you but I don’t understand
I hear you come nearer
I hear you but I don’t understand
 
Poor me, now float me out to sea
Oh no just let it be, come on try
Poor you, oh what you gonna do
Oh what you gonna do, you just cry
 
I hear you come nearer
I hear you but I don’t understand
I hear you come nearer
I hear you but I don’t understand
 
I don’t understand
I don’t understand
 
Oooh, ahhhh, ahhhh
 
– Coldplay, Poor Me