February 28, 2002

Demise of the vulture

We can safely assume by now that The Register is dead. Other than for the entertaining spats that Thomas C Greene seems to pick up with all and sundry every now and then, the site seem to have become one lost cause. After the unceremonious departure of Mike Magee [Great Interview, read it if you can find the time] from the team the site has become a sort of drab weblog which really does not justify the standing that it has in the community.

Accepted, they do not have the resources to break stories like Cnet or Newsbytes but what used set El Reg apart from the rest was the unique perspective/spin it used to put on its stories. This has all but disappeared now.

Stories which had been broken a long time before by other networks [the php bug story appeared almost a full 24 hours after the other networks picked it up] are carried a long while later, which are nothing more than rehashed PR releases. For a while I had thought that this was just a passing phase, especially with the troubles they have had trying to stay afloat, but each passing day seems to convince me that the old Reg is as good as gone.

Meanwhile, Mike Magee continues his excellent work at the The Inquirer, which concentrates more on what he knows best -- the hardware industry. It does not often make for entertaining reading for the not-so-technically inclined, but I guess it is better than the rehashes and rip offs that the Reg seems to indulge in.

For now, my daily news browsing begins at The Inq than El Reg. It was great while the Register lasted, rest in peace. Amen.

February 27, 2002

Show me the smut!

You must have taken a peek at it at least once in your life or have at least been tempted in those long/short years that you have lived on this earth since those adolescent years. I do not know about women, but this does apply to most men. Not much to figure out here, it is the simple thing called pornography.

Rain or sun porn has always had a ready and willing market. A simple search for sites that contains the word sex in their domain on Netcraft brings up more than 2000 sites in its initial listing.

And in the age of the dot, porn too has gone through the same high levels of exuberance and the eventual overcrowding that led to the final crash. Funnily enough, it seems that often what is fundamental to other websites staying profitable -- the traffic -- often leads to most sites closing shop.

Most operations just do not have ability to find the the money to scale up their infrastructure to handle the additional traffic. Most die on the long, winding and unending trail of keeping ahead of the competition and also keeping the password hackers away. Yes, smut sells, but can you handle it when demand overshoots what you can supply with ease?

Wired magazine, in its previous issue had done a story on the adult entertainment industry in the US. Being a not-so-desirable profession not many people were willing to admit that it was their line of work. You would normally expect it to be a sweatshop kind of place but stories about the industry ranges from the nice and homely couple at Wifeysworld to not so nice ones according to this detailed compilation done byPBS.

Then there is also the issue that most times erotica too passes off as porn, which is a sad thing as far as I am concerned.

Even in India where hard core pornography is 'officially banned' it is freely and readily available. Most of the cyber cafes in any given city/town/village are mostly frequented by teenaged boys and voyeuristic old men who want to have a visual orgy than really sticking to the excuse of checking out universities or e-mailing some distant relative.

Now, why have I posted this here? Well, you can consider this as a sort of a rude shock or something similar intended to shake up the generally cultured and refined topics that is normally discussed in the blogging community. Let me confess first of all that I am not on the path to reform to the society or anything like that. But hell yeah, if I enjoy or like something I do not have any problems admitting that I do.

During the years that I have spent back home I have known quite a few video rental outlets who used to stock the stuff [in fact most of their revenue comes from this illegal side of the business] and the best customers are those people who claim to be respectable citizens in public.

What is called as deviant behaviour by the majority of the society is so much of a taboo that we do not even acknowledge the existence of it. But the reality is that the good and the bad is as prevalent here as it is anywhere else. Most issues become worse if they are not discussed properly in the public domain [provided we leave the overinflated prudishness back home before arriving at the debating table].

If you look at it, our society is as corrupt as any of the Western ones. Child molestation, rape and whatever other horrible atrocities that the West is often blamed for, is present here too, if only in a much greater magnitude. Worse still, we sweep them neatly under the carpet and just look away as if it never existed. The most horrible thing I cannot come to terms with is how a woman raped is considered as being provocative one bringing it on herself. Yuck!

Maybe just accepting that we are not the most pristine of all the people in the world will be make a small start on the long road to actually facing up to the problems that plague us as a society.

February 26, 2002

Perspective

Good thread on the whole weblog thingie, this time from a journalistic point of view at kottke.org.

Am just too tired to blog these days.... some other time maybe...... sign off :-/

February 24, 2002

Yet another list

Services and software I would not mind paying for

Yahoo!: Mail, storage, news, hosting. Name it and Yahoo does it all. I have been using its mail system for a few years now and I cannot remember maybe more than a couple of times when it has let me down. I particularly dig the ability to check my mail using a POP3 mail client.

Myrealbox: 10 MB e-mail box, supports IMAP, POP3 and Web-based access. Is reasonably fast and yep here is the clincher, no ads :)

RadioParadise: My kind of music, my kind of speeds, my kind of reliability.

Google & Teoma: Both look similar, speeds too are almost the same. Let the best man err spider win :)

Shoutcast: Net radio with the wildest number of streams. Can you imagine my current favourite is a Nepali folk song station?

Editplus: It has been almost three years since I was first introduced to this text/code editor. Came across it during my hunt for a better text editor that did not have as huge a memory footprint as NoteTab. Ever since I have been hooked and how! I have eradicated M$ Office from my system and all my code and word processing is done using this. Goodies list include damn good spellcheck and an in built facility to preview files.

GetRight: Number of files downloaded using Getright till date: 300; Total filesize: 5913.00 MB. Need I say more? :)

Winamp: Just an extraordinary legend.

K-Meleon & Opera: Two fast kickass browsers that leaves IE and Netscape far behind.

Vopt Me: Delete the silly Windows defrag and get this baby. She is fast and is damn good with a real nice set of features. Best feature being the ability to freeze the HDD while the scan/defrag is on so that it does not have to keep starting over and over again.

Leech FTP: I have not seen another FTP client before and after this one that can do 16 simultaneous file transfers from the same connection. The development on this real good software was stopped in 2000 still it continues to be my favourite. Warning: It is not liked by network admins for its ability to 'leech' all the available bandwidth. Still, cannot help but feel great when it transfers 70 files worth 2.5+MBs in less than 3 mins when it takes forever for WS FTP.

PolyView: The best graphics editor/convertor/browser that I have seen in a while.

WinRar: Winzip can take a hike. Rar is not quite as fast as Winzip, but is much more user friendly with better compression ratios. Besides you can browse archives as if they were being viewed with Windows explorer.

TopStyle: The best CSS editor you can ever ask for. Use it in combination with Dreamweaver and all that one needs is a bit of imagination.

Cygwin: Linux fun while running Windows :)

February 23, 2002

Bushwhacked

Tell you what, every goddamn thing is a waste of time. People, relationships especially.

February 21, 2002

The Arithmetic of wrongs

How much do you ignore smaller wrongs in trying to set right a greater wrong? This is something that has been intriguing me a lot of late.

At times I find myself defending or glossing over things that I might normally not approve of, so that I can oppose a greater wrong represented by the person who is fighting the smaller ones.

Okay, this is confusing. Let me see if I can put it in a simpler way.

• A has a small bone to pick with C
• B too has a small bone to pick with C
• A knows he/she agrees with B on the issue
• B has a huge bone to pick with C
• A too has a huge bone to pick with C
• A disagrees with B on this larger issue they both seem to have with C
• Adopting a defensive position, A chooses to gloss over the smaller issue because the bigger bone is what matters and maybe it also helps him to win the argument in his favour as far as the larger issue is concerned.

Here is the catch.

What if all these little wrongs, that one tends to ignore, keep accumulating and become a much bigger wrong some day?

What if they come back to haunt you as a bigger wrong/problem than the ones you have been fighting?

Where do you stand then?

[Update: There was a major error in the example, did not notice it till today :-( ]
Link Raking

Lend me some $$s please: According to the Beeb, Formula One's commercial rights are up for sale. That is something I always wanted on my living room shelf. So come on, chip in with your bit, the bucket is still empty. ;)

This, "Some Thoughts on the Economics of Terrorism" really is one monstrous troll, something like what I had subjected my History/Eco profs to while I was in college. Read only if the only pastime you can think up of right now is to bang your head against a wall. Funny bit is how K5 picks such amazing horrors up from time to time.

I joined the Evolt mailing list because of the Mad one. But the traffic there is so heavy at most times that I am considering unsubscribing. But the stuff out there is really good from time to time, so I do not want to either. Think I will go back to the 'delete if I cannot read and read them otherwise' routine.

February 20, 2002

The List

I love movies that tell a story. It is almost like cuddling up with a good book. I have made up a list of the movies that I have loved watching over the years. I am not a movie buff nor do I ascribe to any school of thought that says a movie must be only be made in a particular manner. The lone consideration that has gone into this list is that I would not mind watching these movies over and over again.

I love Robert Redford, period. The man knows how to make self indulgent movies and make it look good at the same time. Other than his Sundance franchise he has made some of the movies that I love the best. The first Redford movie that I got to see was A River Runs Through It. The film is just brilliant in the way it was shot, an excellent narration backed up by top class acting from Brad Pitt and Tim Robbins who plays his elder brother.

Horse Whisperer was not something great as far as a film goes. But it was excellently shot, more of the Redford magic, where the way he shoots the vast expanse of green itself has an impact on you. It almost says there is something more about life than what I know now, which makes it worth living.

There is something about Brad Pitt. No, I am not hinting at the chocolate boy-toy image of his, but the fact that the man has some intensity in him. I have been following his movies off and on ever since A River Runs Through It and he just gets better and better every time.

One of the best roles of his that I still remember is the lawyer, Michael Sullivan, that he plays in Sleepers. Set in the New York City's infamous Hell's Kitchen, the movie revolves around the four childhood friends who are raped at a juvenile detention center and the revenge they take after ten years. The cast, other than for Pitt and Minnie Driver [Drooooool!] is not anything great but they do well all that matters - to act well. Other notable performances of Pitt that I have liked are in Se7en, Legends of the Fall

Another director whom I respect a lot is Oliver Stone. He wrote and directed one of my all-time favourite movies, one that I cannot stop watching even after I have been through it more than a dozen times � Platoon. The movie was so well made that the brilliant acting by the young Charile Sheen as Chris the newbie, William Dafoe as Elias and the rest of the cast just succeeds in only adding more lustre to a product so well researched that even robots would not have made any difference. Often misinterpreted (and given hell too by the critics) for the way violence is portrayed in it, Natural Born Killers and JFK rounds off my favourite movies of Stone.

To finish off the long winding explanations of movies and people I love we have the unconventional Daniel Day-Lewis. From the nondescript but funny and enjoyable My Beautiful Laundrette to the spastic quadriplegic painter in My left foot his movies make for some viewing. Always is a must watch as far as I am concerned.

The List
Horse Whisperer
A River Runs Through It
Sleepers
Legends of the Fall
Platoon
Shawshank Redemption: Top notch performances by Tim Robbins and Samuel L Jackson and a brilliant story by Stephen King.
The Green Mile
Heaven & Earth
In Custody: Anita Desai rules, except for her latest book Fasting, Feasting, which is a sham.
Maya Memsaab: Based on Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary. Cannot help but love the way she is played by Deepa Sahi.
Sardari Begum: Dreams do go wrong.
Michael Collins
Rob Roy: Braveheart sucks in comparison!
Blue Sky: Jessica Lange, Tommy Lee Jones, need I say more?
Leaving Las Vegas: Nicholas Cage does act well as an aberration and what can I say about Liz Shue. sigh!
Dead Man Walking: Just a few reasons, Shawn Penn acting out of his skin, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, the one and only Late Nusrat and Eddie Vedder with one of the best ever fusion score ever done.
Philadelphia : Tom Hanks in his best performance to date.
Reservoir Dogs: Can't help but love Quentin Tarantino
Pulp Fiction: Tarantino Again
My Left Foot
In the Name of the Father
With Honors: Cute movie, the real reason -- Moira Kelly :)
The Lion King: Best 2d animation movie ever made.
Antz: Best 3d animation movie ever made.

Sad to have missed these
Metroland: Based on Julian Barnes's novel. My favourite author.
Hearts in Atlantis Another Stephen King non-horror movie, which should be a treat to watch.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being: Milan Kundera, Daniel Day-Lewis and the beautiful Juliette Binoche.
Crash: Loved the book, love the author, love Holly Hunter

ps: All the links go to the Internet Movie Database

February 19, 2002

Timeout

Got some real nasty personal/careerwise shit happening. Need to sort it out/clear it up. So do not expect anything for a while here. Still I love to disappoint people. So do not be surprised if you find something new here before Friday;)

I am sure I am not the only one irritated by the constant outages that blogger seems to have these days. I am sick of the free hosts too. So I am in the process of trying to fix up some space on a dedicated box that my pal is setting up. He is going about it. My fingers are crossed.

Am I the only one who seems to be having problems using TextRouter to fetch previous posts from blogger? Please let me know if you use it too.

BTW: Prabu if we work nights in India, that means we are doing Pacific time and not East Coast time, right?

February 17, 2002

Allen on relationships

Heard this on telly, after getting back from work on Saturday morning

[I am trying my best to recollect from memory, so it is not quite verbatim]

Woody Allen: Relationships reminds me of the joke in which a guy runs into the doctor's room and tells him that his brother has a problem. On being asked what is it the chap replies that his brother thinks that he is a hen. The doctor asks then why did he not bring his brother along? To which the chap replies that he will once he gets an egg delivered from him.

Relationships are strange and absurd and we still put up with them because all of us are waiting for the egg to be delivered it seems", he concludes.

February 16, 2002

Day out with the folks

It is comforting at times to know that some things in life never change, especially when I get to face the people and the reasons that prompted some harsh decisions a long while after they were made.

Seated opposite to him at the table, the above mentioned thought like a fallen dry leaf is gently lifted and blown back into the past by a breeze of words and actions that had never changed from the first time I had seen them. The same irritation, anger, attitude and the omnipresent false front that I was first subject to years back was still intact. Somehow I did not feel any anger now, I did not feel frustrated, just solemn resignation, a sadness that comes from winning a game that you badly wanted to lose.

At one point I just wanted to reach across and hold his hand, tell him it is all right. I can understand. But I did not. Why? Maybe it is because he did not want it be so?

Sometimes it is better to just let people be what they are. Especially when they have lived in the same manner for 60 odd years. It is not a nice feeling to see the foundations that have held them together for all those years just fall apart. And I am reasonably sure it would have, if I had behaved so.

It is too huge a responsibility to take on myself. Maybe there are hidden wounds within me that might burst open and consume him if I allow myself to do that. Sanity is a precious commodity, even in miniscule amounts. Cannot let that go at any cost. The judgement call has been made. I pull out the tape they desire to see, open the tray of myself and lets it play. The lights are dimmed, hush now, the show has begun.

Vain attempts at conversation start again. I am looking blankly at the table attempting to communicate with white grains of rice that adorn the spotlessly clean white plate. As far as a having a coherent conversation goes, I have a feeling they are a better bet.

For once I am happy for the fact that I have been working nights and not slept all in more than 24 hours. Another seven odd hours and I shall be back at the drag. Lack of sleep and rest perfectly makes for a good excuse to ignore attention seekers. Yes, precisely that is what it is.

For the umpteenth time I am explaining to him that I do not have dinner at home, I have it at work. He knows that and so do I, but he shall ask again and I will answer too. He sees what he wants to see, there is no genuine understanding.

Does everybody do that? The believer is King, I am just catering to his needs. After all it is just a matter of few days, an unwelcome recess into the past. But at times it becomes too hard to keep up pretences. Under the cover of laughter tainted with a fake intellectual intonation, I feign maturity and lets the nonsensical conversation just move on.

We are back at square one. He won't give up. So won't I. What is the whole point in travelling half way across the country just to have egos clash again?

It is the minimalist's interpretation of a social chore that I am performing. Guess I am doing it well, the audience is applauding, an encore is called for, maybe one day I shall really start believing in all of this. It shall make an interesting study to see how much inane and at times outright stupid behaviour can be underwritten by the all conquering currency of success.

She is more clever, unlike him who wants to keep the proverbial cake and have it too, she knows what to give to get what she needs. Reaching out, she extracts her pound of stale, mutilated putrid flesh stacked away behind walls of ice and consumes it gleefully. I am only too happy to give. It does not take much to make people happy these days.

Everyone wants to fit into a perfect picture, only the dumb uneasily stagger out of the frame. Bystanders also join in, it is good fun, of course I am footing the bill. I have the rest of the year to recover from the emotional and moral debt that is being inflicted now.

The devouring is over, I am proud of myself. I have managed to hide the best bits of flesh, the prime tender meat. Today's show is over. I thank my lucky stars. Quick byes strongly flavoured with a fake essence of longing fills the air.

Walking out of the gate I meet myself there. The real me and the meat hawker swap places, I rush back to the tentacles of my refuge � work, home and my dearest friends.

It is not very comforting at times to know that some things in life never change. Especially when I know, a few years on, a senile me shall be making vain attempts to extort the same few rotting bits of assurances from a haughty twenty something meat hawker seated across the table.

February 15, 2002

Must read for any serverside tech freak

Self explanatory title. The lads at Aceshardware have posted this brilliant write up. Must read, I say again. [warning: extremely geekish]

February 14, 2002

Peace

[Another of my old scribbles popping up here because of bad case of writer'sblog? ;)]

I am at peace with the world.

Of late I have become transparent from translucent. I understand everyone, I like everyone. Ranging from sympathy to pearly white understanding, I distribute my feelings to everyone. No extra charges, no returns expected... In short, no outstanding issues.

In water I see clarity, love among others give me hope, the air � a sense of freedom and so on. Pessimism has left me, sadness is alien to me, I am above sadness. Happiness even, for that matter. I am expanding you know, reaching out, embracing everyone and everything. I have become one with the world. A divine smile flashes across my lips...

Out of the blue a question stares at my face � Am I deluding myself? I guess the answer would be, yes I am. After all I have to be sympathetic to delusions too.

February 13, 2002

Ragtag Tech Bag

Show me the source
The states that held out against the settlement with MS in the United States have asked the judge to get M$ to show them the Window's source code [acc to News.com] so that they can verify if M$ is practicing what they said they would, that is to detach Windows components that often look like disfigured and attached twins at birth. Will we finally get to see code auditing at its worst?

Do we or do we not patch?
First there was a patch, then there was a patch for the patch, then came a super patch that should have patched them all, then the patch disappears, now the patch reappears, why do we even try eh? But then M$ is such quality entertainment, what would we have done without dear old Bill?

If you run any of the following software go here and download the superpatch.
Internet Explorer 6.
Internet Explorer 5.5 SP2.
Internet Explorer 5.5 SP1.
Internet Explorer 5.01 SP2 on Windows 2000 only.

I did and tests say that I am still vulnerable and M$'s browsercheck site did not think that I was vulnerable even before applying the patch. Maybe I should go there using some other browser than IE. ;)

Multiple vulnerabilities in implementations SNMP
Four in the morning, hard at work, to be rudely interrupted by the MSN e-mail alert with the subject line "Flash: Major SNMP vulnerability from CERT". Ignore this if you cannot make out the difference between SNMP and SMTP, otherwise if you manage any network remotely, take a dekko here. Or listen to El Reg's advice here.

This is really funny
Knowledge@Wharton, in this report, described the mental state of today's venture capitalist as one of More Caution, More Due Diligence, More Diversity. Fine, but it gets to absolutely funny when it quotes one of the chappies as saying: "We are more likely to invest for the long-term".

Lordie lord, what the hell did they think they were doing earlier when then were behaving like your archetypical high school geek-turned-day trader expecting to make millions on a single weekend? Really, it is so pathetically sad that these chaps who made the bad decisions are still employed while the average Joe who used to be employed by the fancy companies they helped to start is out there struggling to find a job and make a living.

Another Dot gone
G & L Internet Bank, the nation's only financial institution designed to serve the gay and lesbian community, will shut down within 90 days due to the tough economic climate and the challenges of stand-alone online banking, the bank said today.[from Msnbc.com]

Why do you need a separate bank if you are gay or lesbian? I am not the former and cannot be latter due to sexual constraints, someone who satisfies the criterion please enlighten me. My heartfelt condolences for the expired entity though. I vaguely remember the launch of the bank when it was said it will tap into the vast swathes of money that the heterosexual community has stashed in their closets [they said that, not me]. Moral of the story: The dotgone virus is immune from considerations of sexuality too.

What are Web services anyway?
Here is a nice read for the technically minded on XML RPC, SOAP and other protocols that drive webservices. :)

HT Tabloid
They managed one of the best dotcom fiascoes with Go4i.com during the heydays of the dotcom boom. Now they are back with another promising failure called as HT Tabloid. Even on our fast leased line [they tell us it is 2mbps] it takes ages to load, content has very little depth and there a million other places where you can look for pictures of semi nude women and sex advice for the forever curious. Looks like this is one media group that loves launching products that are sure to fail.
Resolution

Will code more and and blog less in my spare time. *snicker*
Ode to Dave

Played around with Joel Spolsky's City Desk today. The verdict in comparison with Dave Winer's Radio: Eat your heart out Dave!

February 12, 2002

Status Quo

It has been a score and three years since I was introduced to this world but I already feel as if am 50, which is just ten less than what my dad is now.

I worry more about what groceries I have to buy, the detergent running out, pending cellphone, power and another dozen bills on a daily basis. The only time I laugh is to laugh at myself. I do not cut a pretty figure.

Sometime back trains used to represent the ultimate getaway for me. Whenever I used to go to the station I always had to fight this terrible urge to get on one and run away from everything. Last time I went to the station the train represented something that I wanted to get away from, it almost threatened to take away all the things that define my existence here.

I am growing up to be incompetent in my career. Not that I am lazy or tardy with my work, I am working harder and longer and for lesser, it is just that it has become too mechanical and something of a daily irritation that gets me the darned slip called as the pay cheque. There is no more fun in innovating, especially when office politics gets the better of it, making appreciation a distant dream.

In school I looked for my own ways and meanings, come graduation I had all the tools available to write my own book of interpretations � absolute freedom and time but there were no words to write. I had absolutely nothing to fill those blank pages. I had fished in a river of what I thought was gold and I came up with nothing.

99, I have taken refuge in the capital city, education provides for an excuse to run away from the lack of words and meanings � maybe life in a different place shall provide them, put all the blame for the failure on the old place and its nasty people.

Life in a pigeon hole with three other people and not even the bare necessities. Somehow I was far happier than living in the lap of luxury with cable/car/bike/telly/godknowswotlese. Living out of a bag with just a bucket and a mattress as the only worldly belongings was somehow more satisfying.

2k, working for a living for the first time. Another round of losing again whatever that moors you to the island of sanity.

01, unhappy with everything? Best way out � take it out on yourself, get hurt so bad that it cannot hurt anymore � the pinnacle of pain. The inevitable follows, burnt out at work, shut down, quit 3 jobs, lost my favourite bike, love too, give it up all again, start from scratch again penniless and numb. Back at the starting line.

02, a year completed in absolute slavery driven by the need to accumulate the trappings of a regular life. Need to prove to everyone including yourself that yes I can � been there done that.

Financially, it looks a lot better, but the blank feeling is returning I am running out of words to describe things again, because I do not know one thing from another, my eyes are open, yet they do not see. Rather, I do not want to see. It hurts at times to see yourself. Look away.

The urge to start all over again is making faces at me from behind monstrous structures. Someday I am going to give into temptation and run after it.

But, what remains if all you do is to build, destroy and build again? Proving the same thesis over and over again does not reinforce or negate the truth it represents.

Or is it all just a grand farce?

February 11, 2002

Meticulously Underthought

This is what Merriam Webster has to say about it.

Meticulous: Marked by extreme or excessive care in the consideration or treatment of details

Underthought: The word you've entered isn't in the dictionary.
Suggestions for Underthought:
1. underwrote
2. undercoat
3. undercut
4. undertook
5. undertone
6. undertow
7. undercoats
8. undercuts
9. underreact
10. undertows

Since it does not mean any of the above ten, what does it mean?

What it is meant to mean is, something like undercooked. In short, put together it is like whatever you see here has gone through the careful consideration that it must not have any structured/branded thoughts backing it. It is just a bunch of wild thoughts, simple :)

Now, if you want to bestow me with some level of intelligence [totally uncalled for and also a dangerous precedent :p], you can say it means something like being under the process of thought. But that angle is really unintentional and I would not back it up.

Yes Anita, there is no such word. But this is reason good enough for me to stick to it. Now, I find another explanation for the word, something like an underlying thought. Methinks I should stop when I can, this can go on and on. :D

February 10, 2002

Changes

Decided to change the title of the blog as someone else is using "Constantly Evolving" already. Google tells me no one is using this yet. So I guess I can keep it :)
You

Heard you in the fading sigh of a retreating wave
Felt you in the dying dance of breeze touched leaves
Glimpsed you in the twilight of a setting sun
The waves, leaves and the sun remain
Just another reminder, you were here
The Rose

[This is something I had written a long time back. The reasons why I am posting it here I have no clue of, maybe it is just that I have gathered enough courage to own up for something I created finally? ;)]

It is beautiful, blood red, poetic, violent, smells great and the irony of it being a rose is that it will prick you when you get around to enjoying it. Sounds familiar? You and me are doing it every day, in fact everyone has been, for ages.

Are you getting what I am saying? Of course you do, but being little liars you won't admit it. I know your kinds, the great apparition that you built up through the years just falls apart the moment you admit it. Well, I do admit it. I do it because maybe I'm sad or confused you say. What if it is? You have a problem with that?

Yes I did touch it tenderly and now you shall know why I hold such a huge grudge against it, because unlike you lucky idiots I did not even get to appreciate it properly, it crumpled in my hands and pricked me when I tried to save it. No, I promise I held it very softly. Ha, I know you are accusing me of being very rough with it. Why do I even try?

But I know I shall find it again elsewhere, it is on a desert I know. Did you say there are no roses in deserts? Well, my rose certainly is there. Why? Because I have searched for it in this arid landscape high and low and never found it again.

You cannot see it, simply because you have never seen roses. My search has only begun, I have developed tentacles of selfishness and belonging to the road I have taken to somewhere. It calls me, even it is lonely, we need each other - the road and me. we have stuck it through thick and thin....no demands, no compulsions..the feeling overwhelms me, I drop into her arms, I pass out into the journey....

February 09, 2002

Too true, too beautiful

Love is so short, forgetting is so long
From "Tonight I can write" by Pablo Neruda

Does it not amaze you that some of the most profound things in life are also the most simplest too?

Of Nutscape and Internet Exploder

This was originally intended as a comment on Ashok's post on IE6's hang ups, but ended up being a tad too long to fit in there. So now you know what it is doing here.

1) I have been been using IE6 since its beta days. I hate to admit it, but it is stabler and faster than 5.5
2) M$ will always be M$, so do not complain if its bloatware that you have or if your product has a million holes, just count them as M$'s love for you and there will be no shortage of love in your life thereafter.
3) You can go here to check if your version of IE has been patched successfully, even though it does not check for a few of the new vulnerabilities, some of which are as bad as reading the contents of your hard disk.
4) Do not want IE ? Do not want bloated Netscape 6 ? Want run a bloat free browser that has a light footprint, will rock with Java if you have it installed and also runs flash?

Yep, there is a browser that does all that and more and that too at a cool 3MB download. K-meleon does not look all that impressive with its spartan tastes for menus and flashy buttons but there are a few things it does very well

      a) It is lightning fast, believe me folks Opera is nothing compared to this
      b) Being based on the Mozilla core, it supports almost all the functions that Mozilla or Netscape currently does
      c) Excellent security/privacy management, can stop pop-ups, ads, images without the use of any external software
      d) Runs Java
      e) Nifty feature in which a Ctrl+G brings up a pop-up while browsing, put in any text and hit enter, it will search in Google for you. Beat that I say!

February 08, 2002

Scary

"He's in the same unit where they held people who bombed the U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998. It seems odd to treat an 18-year-old this way," said Tipograph.: This is from a report in Newsbytes on 18-year-old self-proclaimed anarchist Sherman Martin Austin, which somehow reminds me of what can happen here too, once we go ahead with the controversial anti-terrorist laws.

Was swamped by work today and am still in the office now at 7:11 am, so no essays today, not that anyone will miss it :p

February 07, 2002

A Time to flame

Siliconvalley.Com is taking the plunge and going in for a radical redesign, which can be previewed here. I was never a huge fan of the old design, especially since they use the serif font face Georgia [ask any old school designer and they will instantly tell you serif fonts are a no-no for stuff that is meant for reading] for their body copy. The only saving grace was the font size which sort of makes up for it.

Having seen the new design though, I think I like the old one better. This one is a horrible mishmash and it really sprays the best thing about the site, the brilliant content, all over the place. Take a look and let them know what you think of it. Go on, indulge, get your few kilobytes of fame in the information architecture spotlight :p

February 06, 2002

Change

I am really bored with this template, actively considering doing a new one. Will have a go after work today, maybe that is :)
Blogbuddy Alternative

I have been using Blogbuddy to do most of my postings to Blogger for a while now [Aside: Actually it was the need for a Blogger account to test Blogbuddy that led to all of what is here now :p].

It was very simple and easy to use but was way too feature-dry to to make my desktop-blogging experience not so memmorable, especially due to the lack of an option that allows you to fetch and edit previous posts, the way it is possible with the LiveJournal's desktop client. Now all that has changed and Blogbuddy has been banished from my desktop for a spanking new tool called as TextRouter.

The new shortcut window in Text Router [click for a bigger pic]The best thing about TextRouter, developed by Simon Kittle is that it can post directly to both Weblogs [Or any Frontier based service with XML RPC service enabled] and Blogger too. Support for LiveJournal is promised in the near future. Other goodies include the ability to download and upload templates to Blogger and a feature-rich ManiaSites administration menu.

But what blew me away was the shortcuts feature. The only similar feature that I have seen on any other blogging client that till now is the macros that the Frontier scripting engine Radio.Userland has. But that is a tad too geekish for the normal user as the enormous possibilities of the Frontier scripting engine is a slightly complicated to be exploited by them.

The way the shortcuts work is simple, you create a new shortcut and add the text, or even HTML code, that the shortcut is supposed to replace and save it. Wherever you want the text to appear you give the name of the shortcut in double quotes.

For example if a shortcut 'copyl' has been assigned to the text "All these are mine and mine alone", wherever you mention "copyl" in the text will be replaced by the string, eliminating the need for retyping of sentences that are used frequently.

Not the greatest invention on Earth I agree, but one of those nifty little features that makes a weblogger's life a tad easier and maybe is something that points at the direction of a complete blogging suite someday? Imagine a combination of Blogthis and Textrouter eh?

Other note worthies include the send e-mail feature that allows you to send some snippet that you found interesting without having to fire up your e-mail client all over again. For a more complete look at its features you can take a dekko here.

Off Topic: Has anyone tried inserting a table inside the posts into blogger sucessfully?. Please let me know if you have :)

February 05, 2002



Another MSN messenger hole

There is a major hole in MSN messenger that allows any remote webpage to snatch up all of your contact list. Get a demo here
Why do I so love this song?

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free.

Blackbird fly Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird fly Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise -- Lennon/McCartney
Radio killed the Blogger star?

Chris Gulker recently had great things to say about Dave Winer's new weblogging tool Radio. So decided take it out for a spin, considering the fact that Chris always writes and reviews technologies from the viewpoint of an average user.

What is Radio?

Radio is a weblogging too that should look very familiar to users of weblogs.com, manilasites or any other weblogging community that uses the Frontier like publishing system at its core. After the 2.74 odd MB download [30 day free trial and $39.95 if you decide to keep it, which shall include hosting too up to 10 MB], the familiar click-click-click Windows set up routine is used to install the software and it takes about 15 MB of your HDD space.

On firing up the application once the installation is complete, you are presented with a local page that instructs you to get a login done at the radio.userland site after which the familiar Frontier site administration panel opens up in the browser window, but this time with a lot more of options, since the application is a local server that [presumably] uses XML RPC to communicate with the radio server.

How is it?

Frankly the Frontier UI initially put me off very badly because it does a good job at confusing people than making things clear to them and fiddling around with anything on it requires at least the pedigree of a wannabe geek. But, gradually the power of the underlying XML based technology starts showing its real face and gradually I started liking it because of the sheer number of bells and whistles that comes with it. To put it in a few words it is a hack's paradise and the amount of tweaks possible are mind boggling! For a more elaborate, but simple description of what all is possible using radio u can check this intro by Winer himself.

The Verdict

Radio is a geek's hackpalace but unfortunately for the average user other than the install procedure the rest is not any easier to comprehend than astrophysics. But the again for the average geek it is way much easier to run Apache+PHP+MySql locally and have fun than paying Dave Winer. At the same time it has all the features ManilaSites, Blogger and Livejournal put together but not the ease of use.

Shouts and Boos

(s)+ Easy to set up
(s)+Infinitely flexible
(s)+Data is available locally
(s)+Filled with truckloads of features like:
            Archiving in XML
            RSS NewsFeed
            Different templates for different views

(b)-It is not free ;)
(b)-Horrible UI
(b)-Makes very high demands on the local hardware to run it

February 03, 2002

Am I clumsy or not?

I am so not proud of the way I eat. I seem to feed my clothes more than I feed myself, though it is always me who puts on the weight. It is so damn unfair! :(
No Go West!

I am often asked by all and sundry why don't you go abroad if you are not finding the appreciation and and satisfaction in your career or academics here? Was reminded of the question again today when I read another of Ashok's gems.

For one I believe it is better to live as a King among one's own people than to live as a pauper among strangers. It really saddens me at times to see all the NRI's with their oh so fancy accents and westernised mannerisms trying so hard to be one of them and never reaching there. Add to this the totally ridiculous fact that so many of them like Varsha goes beating about their chests to go out and flatten whoever and whatever that does not fit in with the majority's viewpoint here and also the gung ho 'kill em all' attitude that is so popular amongst them.

The worst I have heard is from a chat pal who has not been to India for a 13+ years but plans to donate computers and money to people spread over the Polynesian islands so that they can communicate better and he does not have one good word to say about India. If you apply the same rule that not voting takes away your right to criticise the political system, people who do not give back or participate back here also do not have a right to complain. No one is forcing them to make a difference here, it is really up to individual choice. But then lay off please [OMG that sounded like Mushy :p].

It is all so easy for them to sit in their comfy and cosy apartments and villas and to support such views, because in the end its the average person on the dirty streets here that pays. Ask them how many have ever been victims of a communal riot and therein shall lie a very simple truth that so long as it does not happen to you, in front of you any form of hawkishness is cool.

Pardonne the digression, but had to rant a bit ;) What is a blog sans some rants eh? But, really I absolutely love this country for its character. Things refuse to work here as a rule everyday and still the people get on with their lives with a smile on their face [at least most of them I know do] and in the end I guess that is all what matters, the heart. Besides at least the majority of them do not consider Oprah Winfrey or Ricky Lake as the keeper of their morals, which in itself shows better maturity maybe.

I am under no illusion that all the things in this country are great. Given a choice I would not rather travel through Bihar if I have to make it to anywhere in the North East or even totally avoid going to that state. [The politics of underdevelopment in India is a totally different cuppatea] I hate it when there are frequent power outages, the amount of paperwork that is needed to get my simplest and the most basic right of being able to vote shifted from where I used to stay to where I have been for the past three years.

I do love Barista, their overpriced coffee , my Reebok sneakers, Lee denims and so on. My heart does not melt when I see a poor person on the road. I simply am not that kind whose fake tears flood the junctions when they see such people. I just plain like this place. Any problems with that?

I think I shall conclude by saying that, yes I am confused and lost but maybe I am better off being confused and lost here than there, right?
Horrible

Sometimes you do wonder how much the so called experts can be called anything but that. The Hindu's C. Raja Mohan, an expert on South Asia strategic affairs wrote in his column on the second phase of the War Against Terrorism as announced in the state of the union address in such a 'I am so proud to be counted with the big bully' attitude that it made for some really pathetic reading. Not to mention the fact that he was gladly glossing over some facts that Dubya chose to ignore.

You do expect more maturity and perspective from an 'expert' of his stature and standing than writing with such orgasmic awe that kids on the street ogling at SRK posters cut a far better figure.

Here are some of his quips and what I think about them

The determination to pursue a total war against terrorism would inevitably be welcomed and endorsed in New Delhi.: Blah! What if all of a sudden we are called as terrorists for our attitude towards the Kashmiris? Surely, when you have a US administration for whom the Taliban [a "regime that promised stability" when they took over control in Afghanistan] can turn from best hope to the number one "evil", you can never be sure, right?

Equally strong was the message that Washington would relentlessly push for internal change in Pakistan: Sure, they do need the bases that they have occupied there, the case being which they would want to have a regime that will support thier demands.

New Delhi also has reason to be satisfied at the exclusion, in Mr. Bush's speech, of India and Pakistan from U.S. threat perceptions on the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Uhm.. would I trust it when the goon next door tells me I so appreciate the fact that you have a gun on you so long as you do not use it against me. Wishful thinking on a massive scale.

Mr. Bush's speech reflects the new U.S. view that subcontinental nuclear weapons are not a direct threat to it. That removes one long-standing source of political friction between India and the U.S.: What a truck load of crap! We cannot reach the US with a missile in another five years before we perfect the GSLV and the reentry technology to make an ICBM out of it. India's nukes were never a direct threat to the US, it is the headache that comes with a non-compliant influential regional power that was causing all the troubles.

At the level of ideas, India is unlikely to quibble with the proposition that democracy must be deepened in both Eastern and Western parts of Asia.: Ahem, would we really consider giving into public opinion in J&K and let a plebiscite happen there under the auspices of the UN? Oh and by the way I did not know that just because they are allies Saudi and Pakistan are counted as functioning democracies, while Iran and Iraq are not democracies even though they get to vote (no matter how farcical it is).

And the best bit comes in the end after leading people on so much!

India needs a serious debate within its foreign policy establishment as well as a substantive consultation with the U.S. on the implications of the new policy agenda unveiled by Mr. Bush: Debate like this? Spare me please, am I not glad that I am not a part of the foreign policy establishment.

Amen

February 02, 2002

Listen

How much do you really listen when people talk to you? Or are you one of those people who just mentally drift away from words and ideas of the other person as the conversation moves on, only to occasionally drop back in with a uh, urm, yeah and so on to indicate a continued interest?

Urm... what were you saying? ;)

It is seven in the morning again....... work is over..... a short bus ride and a beautiful solitary walk will provide for an interlude between office and home. And yep some great chicken that I cooked yesterday awaits me. Life is soooo beautiful :)

February 01, 2002

Greets to Ev

Okay, you all must have seen the Guardian story on Evan Williams, the chappie who runs this great service for free, by now. The reason why I am writing on this story is because does raise a few questions on how the content on the Blogspot can be reused, a sort of indexing of the morass of data that lies on his servers.

According to Ev, new things under development in Blogger includes tools that facilitate better surfing of the content hosted on it. This is one major issue that had to crop up at some point or the other with weblogs. Livejournal tackles it a bit efficiently by providing for listing of interests in the user info section and all the users with the same interests get grouped under it [Note: I hate the way the comments template remains the same on LJ even for paid users, otherwise it has some really great features].

But this is not quite an optimal way to deal with the issue of content lying far flung because I can list a million things I like and still get listed, while I might never ever write on them. So if Ev is really serious it will have to be some sort of Google kind of spider+AI infused rating mechanism than a directory [he does not elaborate how it shall work though, so whatever I am mentioning here is pure speculation]. And this is where the problem comes in.

It is fine with most people that their journal or personal experiences are read by a close and trusted circle, but once a spider starts digging out that data most users really might not like it. The Blogger terms of service states that Pyra does not claim ownership of the Content you place on your BlogSpot Site. Pyra may quote or reproduce small portions of your content (if you have made it public) in order to promote your BlogSpot site and/or the BlogSpot service, but only on a fair-use-type basis. , which I guess is more than fair enough as a you really cannot cringe about a public blog getting out of hand. If it is meant to be private, keep it private! But hey, if the average user were to have enough senility to differentiate between a public and private blog, we still would not be selling so many copies of the Dummies series.

But some initiative like this is badly needed and that too between disparate blogging communities too, because if you are an avid bloghunter like me you will understand that there is a lot of quality blogging that goes undiscovered. The only pre-requisite being that it should not be done without the explicit permission of the user. It would really be a great pity if blogs were to die as yet another passing fancy on the Internet.

Still, as I have been preaching all this while, if you have the money, inclination and a bit of brainsweat to spare, go register your domain, get proper hosting somewhere and have total control over your data, publishing mechanism and yes no more TOS to worry about :) [Not if you are planning to host kiddie porn on warez]. All it takes is a few days of learning some elementary RDBMS stuff and PHP. So, go forth complie your mod_perl and conquer ;)

Update: Blogger has gone bonkers again, two of my latest posts are being shown under an older one :-/ Yet another update: It seems not any more :D
Confide in me

How much do you rely on the Internet for any kind of satisfaction, solutions to problems. Was going through Heather Corinna's weekly editorial after a long time. It is on how everyone including magazines and websites are peddling sex advice, which is mostly bad [Nice touch on the article though, she starts it with the Buddha quote: My teaching is like a finger pointing to the moon. Do not mistake the finger for the moon]. If you ask me it is not only sex advice that is proliferating on the Net, almost every aspect of life from porn to philosophy is covered on numerous chat rooms to nondescript Instant messenger windows.

I started my chat life on IRC a few years back. Accidentally got hooked on to one of the major Indian chat sites while I was in Bombay for a while on some official business and basically had nothing to do because we were closing down our division there [a very common event if you are a dotcommie :(] As a direct result I signed up for my first Hotmail account so that I can communicate with most other people there as they use the MSN messenger, got myself a fancy id, learnt to flirt without making it obvious that I was trying to, role play at its awesome best.

Since then I have been privy to more than quite a few private lives, scandals, secrets, joys of strangers who might not even be what I think they are and even the odd brush with cybersex in the early days. I have had my share of good pals [met one of the my best real world pals in there :) ] and I still miss a few great strangers who have disappeared without a trace. Turn around! the person standing behind you could be that stranger who has a more than decent idea about you, who you are and your life. Strange innit?

Well, the dark sides also are there, it happened from an inane ex fellow slave with whom I happened to chat a long time after he had left us. He had quite a few nasty things to say about my bosses and my gut feeling told me that something was amiss. I kept my trap shut while he was foul mouthing my bosses and I just laughed along.

Next day, I see the whole chat transcript has been mailed to everyone in out dept. Thankfully, I had said nothing that I have not said before [phew!]. But yep, it was embarrassing and more than the embarrassment, it took away my trust from him forever.

From one angle IM is the biggest revolution in communication that has happened in a while now but on the other it has also ruined quite a few lives and as far as I know it has managed to wreck quite a few relationships that have started and flourished in the real world. So after 52 additions to my MSN buddylist I am still not sure of what should I believe. Maybe like everything else I should just remain neutral, take in the good and forget the bad. :)

How do you make news out of something that is a fact and hardly any news? El Reg [courtesy Newsforge] reports today that Out of the box, Linux is 'dreadfully insecure'. I say bah! Tell me something new. Any sysadmin worth his name will never do anything other than a basic install and then rebuild all of the components. If he does not do that, he has no business being there. Period :) Crappy journalism I say.

This story: AOL blocks Trillian IM access is just another reason why no single company should be in control of what, why and how you get to see and access whatever you do on the Net. The product in question is the excellent Trillian Instant Messenger [The best integrated IM compared to all the Jabber variants and even the original Yahoo, MSN and AOL versions. Better still, it even does IRC :)] which AOL had blocked for allowing 128 bit encrypted user to user messaging. A while back I remember a related post on K5 where AOL had blocked a private Jabber SNMP server. Not a good sign.

NewsBytes reports today that Confiscated PC Reveals Terrorist Focus On Water Supply. The report mentions that FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center has evidence to this effect from a system they had confiscated. I have been pondering a while on the possibilities on Governments using water supply to effect mind control of the populace. Paranoia at X Files levels? But quite a possible scary scenario methinks :-|

I do not own an Apple computer [have worked on one though] never an AMD powered one.... but by Good Lord this troll rocks!
Follow up

Whoa! some response to the 'delusional' post. I am being flamed left right and centre. Some clarifications were needed so I thought I might as well save you all the horror of reading long winding posts on the stupid blogback window.

Ashok: What is reality? When you are having a delusion, whatever that may be, the delusion is real... isn't it? Though the subject of your delusion may not be...
And public perception of reality may in fact be a mass delusion, like, many believe, religion is...

If a delusion you have is comforting and reality tormenting, and that delusion is causing no harm to anyone, and you are ready to face the consequences of indulging in your delusion... i don't see anything wrong with it...


Me: Touche! Same is my belief, What I am getting at is to see if it is possible to apply it in a purely personal sphere with behaviour that might not necessarily be termed as sane in this world. And I cannot agree more that reality is just delusion backed by strength in numbers.

Arun: But it is bad. Bad because it is not and cannot be permanent. You will always wake up from your dreams, and when you wake up you are at total loss. A situation worser than where you started. You would not want that to happen right?

Me: Hmmm...... Arun, was your first crush permanent? But still you would not call it bad right? The girl maybe did not even know it. So it just exists in your mind. If it was permanent, you are one lucky dude ;)

Syl: If you yourself are sure that what you're harbouring is only a "delusion" .....then where does the question of believing in it arise?

Me: Because it is comfortable? You can have uncomfortable delusions too that you might not want to believe in :)

More Clarification: Please do not take this as an approach to real life, it is just an odd fleeting moment of lateral thinking driven by a bolt of existential crisis. :-)