June 30, 2002

Dry hair and tech

What sort of wild connection can you make out between dry hair and technology. Apparently there is one.

Hidden among the messages on PCQuest's forum I happened to chance on this gem. A must read - both the question and the response.

June 29, 2002

Tellyphobia

I do not like to watch TV anymore. There is not even a single bit of decent entertainment on it and news is frankly too depressing. Do not need to watch the same rubbish that forms part of my trade after ten hours at least on it.

At work the Beeb droning on in the background gave me more reasons to hate it with their 'independent' and 'objective' coverage.

The Beeb anchor was interviewing a Palestinian official at the UN following a report that Israel had occupied all of West Bank, put the whole area under curfew and had just blown up the Palestinian authority's Headquarters in Hebron. This is something like how the interview went.

Anchor: What do you think or how much do you think the Palestinian operation to protect its citizens seem to be successful.
Palestinian chap at the UN: Uhm... what operation? Palestine does not have any operation.

Any sensible person would have asked the same question to the Israeli people than the other party. After all how much can a government do that itself is under attack?

This is followed by a 4 minute piece on the famous baby suicide bomber photo. It starts with an interview with an Israeli think tank who says things that would imply that Palestinians in living in Garden of Edensque environments have nothing to but teach their kids to go and blow themselves up.

Next set of shots are interviews with a set of young Palestinian mothers who do not condemn the photograph. What they say is there is very little we can do to protect our children otherwise.

Even though I cannot possibly understand how once can knowingly blow himself up, I cannot imagine living in the conditions they are living in either.

The report ends with a 30 second bit on Hanan Ashrawai who is fighting a losing battle to educate people on the stupidity of this whole martyrdom angle that is creating more and more of the same human bombs.

Of course that bit would only be shown at the fag end of the report and yes the report ends with probably what is the most important statistic in the whole conflict. It said for every Israeli that has been killed in the conflict, three Palestinians have died and that incudes victims from the suicide bombings.

I really fail to understand how you can use brutal force to end something that finds its inspiration in precisely the same thing?

More reports, this time about how the US will not vote to extend the peace keeping operation in the Balkans unless they are exempt from the same Human Rights court where they are trying the war criminals from Balkans.

I must switch that TV off before I really lose it.
Loveblogging

Most people seem to be writing about love these days.

Then I am confronted by these beautiful words from a dear friend: "Hate me for what I am but do not love me for what I am not".

Simple yet very powerful and a fair enough rule to play by.

Only problem being, there are no rules in this game.

June 26, 2002

Wakey wakey

Looks like some copy ed at Zdnet was snoozing when he was clearing this copy.

<quote> But it would be naove to think that Red Hat doesn't want to crush its competitors </unquote>

Guess that was meant to say naive. Tch Tch.

June 25, 2002

Twilight

Something Is Calling You

Don't tell them, they'll only drink your tears
Don't do it, not in a hundred years
You know it
You feel it, I do too
Just listen
Something is calling you

What difference do you think that it makes
If you give, or if it's you who takes?
I know it
I feel it, you do too
Just listen
You'll hear it calling you

What difference do you think that it makes
If you give, or if it's you who takes?
I know it
I feel it, you do too
Just listen
From the First sessions LP by Nora Jones

Just want to hide my face, not to look at the world ever again and sleep peacefully after so many years.
The day has ended.
It is twilight.
I realise it.
I too must leave.
Be it even on a journey without a destination.
Mouse ballet

Click, click, click
Alt + Left arrow
Click again
Alt + Left arrow
Click again
Nothing's changed
More aimless clicks
Alt + F4
Damn

June 24, 2002

Delayed dinner and a painting

It has been a while since time and circumstances have afforded me this luxury of stepping aside and looking at this creature of strange proportions and measures called as me. In fact it has been such a long time that I am having to remind myself, "hey let your guard down, it is okay". Melancholy. Yes, that is the word that sums up the vision that fills the eye of my mind. Beautiful, yet sad, colours compose the scene. I feel like the saddest daubs of paint in a master's most brilliant work.

It is a stranger that I see, his features are vaguely familiar, he has his back to me with a body language that says do not look at me. Slightly disconcerted by the lack of clues from the stranger as to what his ailments are, I look around. I too am in the painting now, but only in the artists's mind, I might or might not manifest in so many colours, I am digressing now, lets get back to the point.

Yes, we are at a beach, the ocean lies up ahead. Further ahead, where the stranger's gaze seems to be fixed, lies the horizon. The essential truth, it is everywhere, yet no where, you cannot have it, yet you are in it. Dejected, I make a mental note to check this usual trait of me to dive deep into polemics every now and then.

It is strangely peaceful, I mean the whole painting is. There are children playing on the shores. Making castles in the sand, chasing each other, the odd kite madly dances across the sky in a wild emulation of so many different styles. Seagulls flock all over the place, diving every now and then, sometimes successful, and during other times to come back up with a beakful of disappointment, regardless they keep trying, cackling away like school children at a lunch break. Of course it is their lunch break. Correction: The sun is setting, so it cannot be lunch, must be dinner.

Oh, sorry I lost my thread of conversation. You see I am trying to put all this down between cooking my dinner at the very 'earthly' hour of 3:30 AM and trying to write two letters, a semi-apologetic letter to a dear friend of mine and another a valuable routine conversation. Would you please look around for the thread and hand it back to me immediately if you come across it. The mutton needs another 15 minutes worth of time on the flame and there is one more whistle to go before I can get the rice off the pressure cooker. I do not want to bore anyone with the vagarities of my daily existence if it is possible. Aaah! there she blows, hang on I will be back in a minute.

Back now with a freshly lit cigarette in hand and the just recovered lost thread in the other. So we shall carry on. Shall we?

The painting again. Yes, the only sad spot on it. But how much can a painting tell you? Especially about a man who is standing with his back to you? I touch the person softly on his shoulder and I take a few steps back. You never know how these brooding types are, they might snap at you any time and I for one do not like surprises. He turns around with a bemused "but, why me" look on his face. Thankfully he does not seem to be violent, at least for now. Over a few paper cones of roasted peanuts this is what the man had to say:

"Of late I have been travelling, travelling a lot in fact. From places that I have been to before, to places that I have never been to. So you must assume by now I am a traveller. I have a ticket in my hand that will take me anywhere, to any part of the world. There is no place that I cannot go. It is a one in a million ticket. Very few have ever had in their lives. But, strangely I have no where to go."

"Wherever I come back, I come back to these shores, to feel the waves lapping at my feet like a violent but now obedient dog. No this shore is not a destination for me, it is just a refuge, temporary one at that. I have watched these children play for a long time now, a different set of them used to play here sometime back, soon this set will be replaced by others. Like the seasons they keep changing, only I am here all the time, just a prisoner of time, constantly watching the same drama evolve over and over again."

"Somewhere I have lost the faith in the journey. I do it now more or less due to a force of habit. Nothing binds me to it. There is no more excitement. One day even these beaches will bore me when I would be able to trace the same path I had taken through the wet beaches the evening before, even after the waves have washed everything off."

"Again I wonder where would I want to go? I do not know. In fact I am not sure at all if I want to go even. This feeling has slowly been growing in me that I am slowly getting used to the fact that there is no destination that I want to travel to. I am used to having no destination now, reconciled to not having one, now the thought of one arriving out of the blue scares me. So, in a way I do not want the destination."

"But where do I go then? I have played with these thoughts so many times before. Funny they are. They often remind me of the wet soap that fell down on the bathroom floor. Try as hard as you can, it slips from your hand. It slips and it slips and it slips, like the the beautiful meadow that I have seen in one of the journeys. Looking so beautiful from a distance but dull and drab when you get closer to it, the mundaneness of the singular blades of grass that comprise the meadow remains as a beautiful irony to be added to my knapsack of such ironic trinkets that I have collected over a lifetime of travelling."

"I have seen many a beautiful scenery from the corner of my eye that vanish the moment I look back to catch it in its full glory, my mind playing tricks I assume. Maybe there is no beauty in this world at all. It is just a trick of the mind, after all what do I have in my knapsack? A few old snaps, letters, moments -- in short a motley bunch of odds and bits which are anything but beautiful."

"I have often thought about giving the ticket away. But I cannot. I did not ask for it. In fact it is not even a physical entity. If I want to go someplace I just go, no one asks me anything. It had become so routine that I guess I started painting imaginary smiles on the faces of people I meet just to make the journey more bearable. Now looking at the things trinkets my mind is plagued immediately by suspicion, maybe I painted the beauty on them too. You never know."

"Listen, I would love to tell you more, but it would be the same story, with different people and settings. I do not want to waste your time or want the beauty of this conversation taken away by the boredom that lengthening it would cause. So bye"

Abruptly he stops and goes back to the sad spot on the canvass. Feeling rather helpless, I step out of the painting. The clock tells me it is past four in the morning now. The cooking has been done. I am still due my weird hour shower and the long delayed dinner.

Putting a curtain over the painting, I walk away wondering if I would meet the man again when I look at the painting the next time. Somehow the hollow look in his eyes haunt me even now. Tired and yawning, I pick my towel and head for the bathroom to duel with the slippery soap for the umpteenth time.

June 22, 2002

Impressed!

Sylpheed: Eudora, Outlook, Outlook Express and the rest of the commercial e-mail clients can take a hike. I love this baby and the best bit is she comes for free and boy is she fast. The GTK thingie looks kind of clunky on Win 32 [it is still bleeding edge beta code they say, but runs steady enough for me] but it rocks on KDE on Linux. Just one negative point though, it does not yet let you have identity logins on either Win 32 or Linux, which is the only reason why I still use Outlook Express at work till date.

Yahoopops: Do not want to pay for POP access to Yahoo! mail? Miss the old days when you could check Yahoo! mail using Outlook or other e-mail clients. Then this nifty app is the one for you. It sets up a tiny server on your system that connects with the Yahoo web interface and the rest is like the good old days. I am not sure how legal the app is, you would have to check Yahoo's ToS for that.

Another interesting tidbit is that Sourceforge, where the project is hosted, mentions a Anuj Seth and a K Shyam as the developers behind the project. Do I smell a story possibility for the Rediff team? ;)

June 18, 2002

Opinion

Britney Spears gives obscenity a bad name.

June 17, 2002

Of arguments and kisses

The end of a relationship is the negative copy of its beginning. there is the same feeling of unreality as when you have just fallen in love, the same loss of appetite and sleep. The strange numbness, like the shock after an accident, is exactly the same. A relationship is a holiday from loneliness, beginning and ending in the same airport. The most awful thing about the end is that it clearly reminds you of the beginning, of the joy with which you set off, everything is the same, yet everything has been inverted by grief. -- Claude Wooldridge in Louis Buss's Luxury of Exile.

I guess one can say the same about life too. Every thing you do in it are little relationships. You forge relationships with things, ambitions, fears and so on. But in the end you outlive all of them and look back at them with the negative of what you started out with.

There is an essential emptiness that forms the scenery. Everything else that comes in between are just props that decorate the landscape for a short while only to be replaced in the next scene or the scene after that.

And one eventual day you run out of props. I guess that is what is called as death. Well not the physical one, but the mental one. So what remains in this strange circus called life?

I guess it is just the fond remembrance of the first kiss, the pride that you felt in the vain argument that you won, the day you bought something with your first salary when you thought the whole world was yours for the taking and the sweet smile from a beautiful stranger in a crowd whom you never met again.

Life is full of possibilities -- mostly stupid ones. But that is what makes it tick. Because in the end everything must go and the more you hang on to something, the more forcefully it is taken away from you.

In the end you know the odds of the stranger having actually smiled at you are really low and next to zero if you consider the possibility of meeting and getting to know him/her again.

The sweetness of the first kiss is soon replaced by the embarrassing clumsiness that it was done with.

Vanity remains as the sole residue of the victorious line of argument.

Even as the world's richest man with the fattest pay cheque you still cannot lay your finger on THAT thing which you cannot yet conquer.

But the remembrances, like disintegrating dry old rose petals hidden an old diary, haunts you, brings a smile on your lips when you look at them accompanied by an invisible teardrop that rolls softly down your cheek. That is the only thing we earn for ourselves, the only thing that is truly ours. No matter how vain or how stupid it is, it still is mine and that makes it the most valuable thing I have in my life for me.

I am rambling, I must be low on sleep, let me find that diary again and look for that invisible hand.

Farewell for now.

June 14, 2002

Meanings

Crowd: A large number of persons especially when collected together
Stranger: A person or thing that is unknown or with whom one is unacquainted
Smile: A pleasant or encouraging appearance

Courtesy Merriam Webster

June 09, 2002

The higher you walk...

Three in the morning and I am at work as usual, being Sunday I have to concentrate on making the pages look flashy. So, there is more of an emphasis on quality than quantity. In the background, the Beeb is showing a feature about the American Vogue's Editor Anna Wintour. Paused to think for a while, would I ever want to be as rich and powerful as that?

Yes, comes the answer. Not for doing the power trip, but to just make a statement to myself that I can do it. Meanwhile, the emphasis on quality continues and the Vogue editor has gone to bed at 10:00 PM on the dot. Obviously she does not work nights like me. The stories keep churning.

June 08, 2002

Frozen

Why I became a journo, or whatever you would like to call this monstrous mix of tech and content that I do, was partly due to choice and also due to some vague conspiracy that prevented a mass genocide in a distant galaxy or so I am told. But that is immaterial. After more than a year spent going through the 70 -90 odd stories that a newspaper carries on a daily basis, I wonder if I am experiencing the same kind of numbness that doctors often say pain causes in them.

Stories have become just things to sell. I do not see the people behind them anymore. Maybe I do and I am just turning a blind eye to them. When from all across the world all you get to see is people killing each other, blowing up in front of each other, being hacked to tiny pieces, you really do wonder what is the point. It is rarely that a happy story makes it to the top, of course cricket always does, but it is rarely that we get happy stories in that too. And when you have orders from the top to push smut and sleaze on to the front as it sells well, you again wonder where is this honourable profession that you heard of.

Well, I did not join the trade wanting to change the world. Matter of fact it was due to the fact that I do not have to adhere to a dress code that made me pick this line. I cannot even say picked it. A strange set of events landed me where I am and I really cannot claim to much purpose or control in the enterprises that explicitly led to my being here and now. It would be right to say time and events pushed and prodded me till here, like an unwilling toddler being pushed on to the stage to sing a song. Yes, that would be a better description. But coming back to the point, it hardly ever measures up now. But then do I have a right to complain since I never wanted to change things being in the line? I wonder again.

At the end of the day when I finalise the matter for the top page, it used to hurt a bit somewhere earlier when I used to dump a story that touched me somewhere deep for some piece on the latest drug that will let you have sex for 20 hours in a row even when you are 60. Now it just does not. The story does well on the ratings, it is a job well done. Same goes for projecting violence, fear and paranoia. Tell people you need to blow the country next door to bits, it sells. Tell them it is not nice to do that (believe me, there are still people who would advocate that!) it does not sell. Business wins over. After all I need my appraisals too. The blaster gets his way. In the process I have created a few more gung ho warmongers.

Would have been nice to wash my hands off it. But I cannot. Someday the chickens will come home to roost and that day I won't have an answer. As far as pushing the smut goes. We have been beaten at our own game. Sify has a better nose for smut now. We are nowhere even close. So now we are lost. We are no longer the classic smut peddlers nor are we now reliable source of hard news.

Maybe it is the ten thousand odd words that I have to scan through is playing tricks on my mind. Or is it? I really do wonder.
Realtime

Have been getting very little blogtime of late. In fact for almost anything else other than work. Have gloated enough over it by myself so I would not torture anyone else to anymore of that. But I do miss they way I could write in the early days. I miss the conversations, the little discussions, somewhere I am missing it all. So I decided to give this a go. Realtime blogging. I am putting down what is coming to my mind as I am working -- No pre-planning nothing, I am just writing what is coming to my mind and I hope I do not say something that should not have been said and hope that the devil pays at least something for my mind, now that God has declined my gracious offer.

Had the most moronic of days by early Friday morning. The way in which things were progressing resembled more of those chain type crackers that you have on Diwali. In the first place, I was overshooting the deadline a decent bit. Then comes a blasted bug on CMS which my dear darling techies who coded it had never thought of. A tmp directory on the /usr block where php was installed was full, causing half the data that was not directly inserted into the PostgreSQL database to be chucked away. This meant that all the stories where I had put in the additional data was getting royally mucked.

Wait, it just gets better. Out of the blue, our main link decides to go fishing. It is a 2mbps fibre optic link that is our lifeline and with that the goes the SSH session that I was connected to the main server. So, time to fall back on back ups. Switch off the ISA client & DHCP, put in the static IP address and now on the glorious back up line that goes all the way from Delhi to Chennai before it gets connected to the Net. Fire up Putty again and the damn thing does not connect.

To double check I try FTPing to the server. Umm... yeah...... same result. Enlightenment! The great server admins have put ipchains rules that refuse connections from anything other than the IP block that we own on the main link. The stories that are online almost always as a rule contain errors, both content and design related, that need to be checked and cleaned. Since the php pages that show the full stories are cached, one often needs to delete the cache once the corrections are made. No FTP, no corrections. Now I am having a really bad day.

8 in the morning. I have given up totally. Called up the boss, told him this is the scene. Shot off emails to all n sundry who might be concerned about what all remains to be done and head for home. Home: humid, hot and no power. It teasingly comes on and goes again in 5 mins. The annoyance continues throughout the day. After roughly three hours of accumulated sleep over number of sessions I cannot bother to count and a quick clean up I am back at the desk.

Someone up there really loves me.

June 06, 2002

Sigh!

Newsbytes has moved from being a standalone decent technology news website to a heavy, slow loading messy section on its parent website The Washington Post. I for one would surely miss it. Was nice while it lasted. Sobs.

June 05, 2002

3 AM

Through swaying glass panes of the large windows across the room, I can see the swirling dust partake in an intricate dance with the mysterious wind -- a tango that only the night is supposed to witness. With another blast I become an unwilling participant in the dance, joining in the moves without an invitation. Dust fills my eyes and ears, my hair is ruffled by the wind, I breathe in the air and the dust -- sweet suffocation. In vain I try to catch the wind, the sand and the night. All three slip teasingly through my fingers. I am just an intruder.

June 02, 2002

Currently Reading

The luxury of exile: Louis Buss. Started today. Looks decent. Not a historical work by any means, but the chap certainly has a knack for putting mundane things across in a very innovative way. But at times the putting across bit overshadows the whole plot. Something like starting out designing a car, then getting lost in making the engine too powerful and ending up having a crappy chassis to put the beast in. Nice engine, but a shoddy car mate!

The ABCs of CMS - Part IV: A must read for anyone who has anything to do with using or designing a CMS. Detailed, but done in very simple language, one of the first blow-by-blow article that incorporates workflow management too.

Tip: Keep your connection details in a separate include file than sprawling it across all your php files. Wonder how can such a good tutorial can make such a major goof up. Well, the way the author has done it will work too, but it is not a nice habit to learn as the day your database details change you will have to sit and change the connection details on each and every file that uses it and God save you if you do not use a persistent database connection. And, yep, as the author says there is no form validation, be wary, be very wary. Prevention at the form level is better than cure at the insert level.

ServingLinux IInd anniversary: Moshe Bar just completed two years of his column ServingLinux, gotten married, and is bored of his main compile rig [Dual Pentium III 900Mhz, 2GB RAM, Ultra SCSI], *very deep sighs*. Give me that rig any damned day, will have it for keeps!

As far as the article goes, it is on porting Linux code [most of the stuff runs on IA 32 now] to the Intel IA64 [The Titanic Itanic] Platform. To be very frank, with the severely restricted time that my geek alter-ego gets, it is a tad tough to digest, especially when it comes to kernel hacking, still it is worth a read, take a dekko if you are not technophobic.