Friday, December 29, 2006
The year started with me being coming back refreshed from a trip to Kansas City. And it is ending with me being not-so-fresh in a new company in Bangalore itself. In case you wondered, its been a good year for me overall - I got to keep all but one of my new year resolutions for the year! I finished a (half) marathon, wrote more than 52 posts on this blog, bought my car, fell in love, fell out of it, changed jobs, made new friends, renewed old contacts, read 23 new books, got a couple of awards, and was never bored for most of the year.
At the same time, I left a place that was really dear to me, lost a great manager, lost one good friend to an argument, lost face once, *never* practised the violin - something I swore I'd do, and...well, let's leave it at that.
So, what are my resolutions for next year? Here goes:
- Better my half-marathon time,
- Get some serious violin practice
- Get some piece of authorship out in public
and some more...maybe I'll add them in later. :D
Anyways, have a great new year ahead. Thanks for reading my blog, and may 2007 bring you here more often, even as it brings you far more happiness and joy than you can ever handle.
The "Devdas" driver: This person is actually sad to let go of your fare. He puts on a sorry face, and with a voice that reminds you of that loser, Devdas, asks you to find an other auto. Of course, it maybe that he's simply sorry about something else, but at least you get to hear a kind word. Needless to say, his species is rather rare in the ecosystem of Bangalore autos.
The "Amitabh" driver: He is ANGRY. You've just brought him down to near stopping speed from his usual "take-you-closer-to-god" speed, and not just that, have dared asked him to go to a place where he doesn't want to! And beyond that, you have the audacity to quote the rulebook, and tell HIM that he has to take you where YOU want to go!? Persist, and you get a quick lesson in the "Art of Kannada scolding". Ofcourse, his species dominates the ecosystem - much like rats in a sewer.
The "Nero" driver: He is the indifferent one. He couldn't care if you existed, or if you wanted to go somewhere. All he knows is that you are too insignificant to be registered in his intellectual and visual radar. A quick glance, and you are consigned to the fumes of the exhaust, as he haughtily turns forward and speeds away.
Any more that you guys know of? Post it in the comments!
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Monday, November 27, 2006
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Saturday, November 18, 2006
At the recently held Bangalore Book Fair, I got the opportunity to finally buy a book I'd been hunting for a long time. This book, called "Peopleware", written by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister is a classic - something that can be compared with "The Mythical Man-month".
Now we've all heard about hardware, software, shareware, and even vapourware. So, what is peopleware? Well, it is about the only raw material that matters in the software world - people. It is all about how people must be managed, the kind of work environments that software companies must provide, and the kind of managers/senior leaders that you must have in the profession for a company to succeed.
A must read book for anyone, including those not in the profession. Nothing in the book is new - just uncommon, like common sense. Let me know (if you're in Bangalore), if you want to borrow the book.
* Pair programming
The first time I heard about pair programming, I laughed my heart out. My good friend Sathya who introduced the concept tried very hard, in his own inimitable way, to convince me about the worth of the concept. Nothing would make me budge...two programmers working on the same piece of code at the same time!? What crap! What about productivity? What about cost!? What about conflicts!? These were all questions I asked.
It is a different matter though, that later in my life, I actually wrote a paper on the benefits of pair programming! Even then, despite having officially pair-programmed more than a few times, I hadn't experienced the "Aha" moment - when I was convinced that pair programming helped me do a better job of something.
Around a month back, a manager at my workplace had a cool idea on some updates to a web-site that we host. Essentially, we were changing the rendering algorithm, and he asked if I would work with him on it. I agreed, and man, was it fun! The three hours we spent deciphering the existing code and tailoring his algorithm were probably the most productive hours I've spent in some time! And it was fun! We each complemented the other's skills, learnt from the others' approach to code, and finally came off with renewed respect for each other.
Now that is the "Aha" moment I was looking for. That is one of the biggest benefits of pair programming - building better teams.
Anyways, this is all for this edition. Keep visiting this space for more technical updates. Next time, I plan to write about user-interfaces and the general stagnation in the area.
See the previous edition of technology notes here:
Sunday, November 12, 2006
For example, take the word (phrase?) "high-tech". It stands for high-technology - which means technology of a certain calibre, a certain novelty, and a certain degree of precision, one that stretches the state-of-the-art in a field. How do our papers use the word? Well, simply, everything in the 'high-tech' (sic) city of Bangalore is high-tech. The bus-stand is hi-tech, even though it doesn't have proper water-proofing. The buses are hi-tech, even though they run on 80s technology. The government is hi-tech, even if it doesn't understand technology. Everything is hi-tech. Most vulnerable to this phenomenon is the New Indian Express - which is otherwise an excellent read.
Here is an other one. "Militant". Websters' defines "Militant" as someone who takes to arms for a selfless cause. A "terrorist", on the other hand, is one who "systematically uses terror as a means of coercion". So, are the terrorists in Kashmir working for a selfless cause? Or are they using terror to coerce the Indian government into accepting the two-nation theory? Well, if you go by the anchors, they are those fighting for a selfless, no doubt, secular, cause.
I'll add more as I remember them.
Well, it is Communism. And communist control over premier educational institutions in the country. This in turn has led to their control over all of primary/secondary education, over most of the print and visual media, and over many influential institutions like the ICHR. As Ayn Rand, in her book, The Fountainhead, eloquently stated, this bunch of commies are not interested in 'physical' power. What they want is power over thought. Power over the minds of the people. They want to hold the levers to power, not power itself.
So, how do they accomplish this mind-control? By obfuscating facts. By telling lies. And by having acolytes back their lies. Here is an example: In today's "We the people", the debate was about "Health-care outsourcing". Barkha Dutt introduced a Bill-something from California who had come in to Fortis for treatment. He was obviously impressed with the world-class facilities and the low cost. Obviously. And two other truths are self-evident. Health-care outsourcing helps hospitals improve, it gets India more foriegn exchange, and it clearly benefits the patient. Now that the worthies cannot dispute these facts, the JNU-types on the show ask, "Who will do anything about the Indian Bills?". Point. But what does this have to do with the whole concept? Indian Bills cannot afford treatment because the government spends 1% of the GDP on healthcare, instead of 5-7% like the other countries, and even that 1% is not used effectively. It is not because the private hospitals treat foriegn patients. But the force with which these guys put it, the private hospitals are put in the dock, for no fault of theirs. And in this debate, you can be sure, there will be no mention of all the Pakistani kids who got treatments done here! BTW, if you treat a Pakistani, if you treat a Kashmiri terrorist, you are a national hero. If you treat an American, you are a blood-sucking vulture.
And this is typical. Praise a NarayanaMurthy for creating Infosys, and these worthies will say "Oh, it provides jobs to only 50,000 people." Praise the software industry for letting these worthies fly to other countries witout being treated as terrorists, and these will say "Oh, it is *just* a few million jobs." Praise the export sector for doing well, and these worthies will point to all those below the poverty line. But praise a Mao, praise a Stalin, praise a Caucescu - all butchers, and these a*holes will clap with you.
Disgusting. And if you haven't read these three books - Animal Farm, 1984 and The Fountainhead, I'll urge you to read them now. It is the duty of every citizen to see through the propaganda of these a*holes.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Receptionist (Opening a register of employee contact information): Sir, can I have your cellphone number...in case someone wants to contact you
Moi: No, sorry, I don't have a mobile phone
R (Incredulous look on his face): Sir, but we'll keep it confidential...won't give it to anyone
M: No, really, I don't have a mobile phone!
R: Sir, but we need it for our records...
(At this time a 'worker' walks in carrying a heavy case. He keeps it on a table nearby, fishes out a mobile from his pocket and dials...)
R: Sir, even *he* has a cell phone...
M (big smile on my face): Well, OK...what you mean by that!?
R: Sir, you *really* don't have a mobile?
M: No, *really*, I don't have a mobile...do you want to check my bags now to confirm it?
R: No...sir, sorry...
(Moi walks out of the door...the 'worker' suspiciously follows me out, staring at me most of the time...)
Sunday, October 22, 2006
This is the kind of thinking that pervades most of Indian life today. I'm subscribed to an orkut community on Calvin and Hobbes, on which someone posted a question wondering what Calvin's star sign was. Here is what is possibly the 'best' answer:
he has to be an Aries..my guys an Aries...n he is no less than Calvin....n he adores him a lot...so gotta be Aries
What astounding logic! Calvin has to be an Aries, because 'her guy' is an Aries and he is adores Calvin. Haven't these people heard of 'evidence'? Or 'scientific enquiry'? (The second question was for the Caesarian idiot.)
Sunday, October 15, 2006
- Be of Indian origin. (Well, this one is a no-brainer.) At the least, fake it.
- Immigrate to the US, or to the UK. Or better still, have your parents immigrate when you are hardly speaking
- Write about one of the following topics:
* How your Grandmother was married off at 12
* How your mother (or yourself) was never allowed to date a guy
* How your grandparents arranged your parents' marriage
* How your grandfather always had the last word in everything
* How your grandmother, mother, aunts behaved
* How you never kissed a guy till you reached the US (or the UK)
- Now, praise the US and the UK for being the free societies they are, in which, thanks to the grace of the Lord merciful, you can actually kiss a guy! (Even if you are one!!!)
- Lambast western capitalism. Fly in business class to attend World Social (sic) Forum meetings to rant against the wealthy.
- Wait until the Guardian or the New York Post publishes a review of your work.
Lo and behold, in no time, you'll be one of the grand candidates for the Booker, the Nobel, or what have you.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Sunday, October 01, 2006
I also looked for a feedback link to give them a piece of my mind, but that doesn't seem to be present, either!!!
What is happening, Google!?
(For the skeptics, try this: Search for "Gandhi" in my blog. You'll see one result with the title "Nostalgia updated". Then, go to this link:
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Sunday, September 10, 2006
* Why hotmail sucks
I've been using hotmail since the time it was the only free, web-based, e-mail service provider, way back in the mid-1990s. Even when I got my Yahoo and Gmail accounts, I continued to use my hotmail account for some of my e-mail. Of late, Microsoft has paid more attention to Hotmail, and I now have like 2GB of free storage, and a whole new interface that looks just like Outlook. While the extra storage is welcome, and is a marked improvement over the 2MB I had earlier, the new interface, simply sucks.
First, it takes a long while to load. Then, I still need to click on "Inbox" to access my e-mail. Why can't Hotmail (and Yahoo) simply take me to my Inbox? Do I login to check my Junk e-mails, or do I login to check my Inbox!?
My next peeve is the usage of screen real-estate. The "Windows Live" banner takes away 25% of screen space, and there is a lot of additional white space surrounding it, which makes my e-mail pane really small and forces me to do a lot of scrolling. This is another illustration of forgetting user needs over self-aggrandization. It doesn't look like the product has seen a lot of usability testing.
Finally, there is the point about Junk e-mail filters. Hotmail's is probably the worst in the business. There is hardly any filtering done and all the junk simply lands up in my Inbox totally reducing my effectiveness in processing my e-mail.
* Unicks rocks
Heh heh. Did I just hear a "I told you so" from somewhere in Sahakaranagar, Kansas City, LA and Singapore? All I can say in response is that I believe in the "horses for courses" theory. There are things about Windows that are nice, and the same holds for Unix. But anyway, coming to the point of this post - the problem with WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) is WYSIWAG (What You See Is All You Get). No designer can design a GUI for doing everything a user may want - but a group of well written tools that confirm to an interface can rock your world.
How did I realize this? Well, recently, I had to create a password file for a project I'm working on. The file stored a triple - username, password and a user directory for users enrolled in the system. For bootstrapping, I already had a directory tree with a lot of user directories listed, so I wanted to write a script that'll run through the tree, and dump each folder name into a text file in the format X,
Question was, how can I do it easily on Windows? Well, a small C program might do the trick, but then I need to check for file handles, and stuff like that which is clearly not an option. DOS shell scripting is too primitive - for example, the for loop can only execute one command! So, if you want to execute multiple commands, you need to put them into a separate batch file! And I don't know anything in VB, so there was no way I was going to write my 'program' in VB script.
I was in a quandary, cursing myself for not having a Unix shell somewhere, when cygwin came to my rescue. One install and two lines of shell script later, my password file was ready!
So there. While GUI's have played a very important role in making computers more accessible, a shell prompt is indispensable if you are doing serious programming, as I realised after this experience.
On an aside: Eric S Raymond has these fun Unix Koans, with the one about GUI's being the best. Read them here.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
- Handling Sehwag: Clearly, Sehwag's performance is nothing to write anywhere about. But still, he continues to be in the team, at the expense of younger talent like Robin Uthappa who had like a dream start to his career. Now if you want to groom young talent, why keep Sehwag? And what impact will this have on Uthappa's confidence!?
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Saturday, August 05, 2006
When it comes to looks, there are few of her kind that can even hold a candle to her. She's so cool that she makes the Arctic Circle feel like a sun tan joint. She's so hot that she can melt your heart. Not just that, she has this amazing purr in her voice - which is simply to die for. She's got amazing brain-power for someone who looks like her, and not just that, she's low maintenance. Well, not absolutely, but relatively. On the outside, she's as tough as steel, but on the inside, she is one soft, sweet thing. Well, I could go on and on about how well she handles the rough roads of life, but I'll simply be making you guys jealous. So, let me desist.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Of the three, Rafi was (and is) my favourite. Be it the melodious "Mere Mehboob tujhe" from a movie of the same name, or the peppy "Yeh chand sa roshan chera", or the sorrowful "Raha gardishon mein hardam", Mohd Rafi was the voice that made the actors of those days. Of course, the songs then had great music and wonderful lyrics, but Rafi's voice added that icing on the cake that made each one of his songs special.
My introduction to Rafi was with a song he sang for "Hum kisise kam nahin" - "Hai agar dushman dushman". This was the beginning of my 7-year association with my dance troupe. (Yes, I know it is hard to believe.) Anyway, I was one of the background 'dancers' for this song, and loved it. Later I heard more of Rafi - and when we got our tape-recorder, I spent hours listening to his songs on tape and radio. In fact, I've lost count of the number of Rafi songs that I recorded from the Radio - from programmes like "Bhoole Bisre Geet" and "Aap ki farmaaish". Indeed, those were the days.
See more of Rafi at www.mohdrafi.com
Which is your favourite Rafi song? Let me know.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
As they say, 'Great' minds think alike! ;)
Comments invited as usual.
Friday, July 07, 2006
For the uninitiated, Google has just released Spreadsheets - an Internet-based spreadsheet application ( or applet?) that will be available for free use. Ofcourse, by default, the files you create will be stored in your Google account, hosted on what else? Google servers. So not only does Google get you to abandon Excel, but it'll also hold you to ransom - your income tax returns for instance, will be available to Google's administrators if they were interested.
Wonder why no one is raising a hue and cry about killing competition by offering software for free. Wonder why no one is raising a privacy issue about having your files stored on their servers.
Anyways, folks, this is world domination Google style. The only difference is that you don't have to pay for it.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
I think this is one of the most stupid foreign policy decisions that the Manmoron government has made. Why? A MBA-friend once explained about the risk-reward concept by saying that some risks are acceptable provided the rewards are proportionally higher. What is the reward India gets if Tharoor gets the post? One word: Nothing. He is not going to support India on any issue of consequence, he doesn't have a vote that can make a difference to India, nor can does he have executive powers - for example, to tell Pakistan to buzz off from Kashmir. In fact, why has no big country ever held the post? Because unlike what we are told in our f'ked up Civics books, the UNSG is nothing like a World President. He is more like a World Puppet - a very well paid one at that. Shashi Tharoor has obvious interests in becoming the UNSG. India gains nothing by proposing him to the post.
What are the risks? Well, first off, we'll now be counted as a country on par with Thailand, Sri Lanka and Pakistan - that have all made nominations for the post. And if God forbid, India were to lose (which isn't all that improbable), it'll be a huge slap on our face. Not to mention the fact that we can write off Sri Lanka's and Thailand's support for an UNSC seat - if that were ever to be put to vote. Or the fact that we just ruined a relationship with Sri Lanka by announcing Tharoor's nomination just when the Sri Lankan foreign minister was in India asking our support for his candidate.
So, this is just some sort of personal give-and-take between the lefties, the soft-lefties and the Manmoron government. There is nothing India will gain from the move. In fact, this might be the first nail in the coffin of our UNSC hopes.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
"Aankhen khuli ho ya ho band
deedar unka hota hai
kaise kahoon mein oh yaara yeh
pyar kaise hota hai"
Back in NCSU, I was working on our SCTP project with a couple of friends, and to our surprise, our test server was receiving the SACK*s from the test client without the protocol (which was the intermediary) being notified - infact, the SCTP socket wasn't even open! In a moment of inspiration we came up with this song:
"Socket khuli ho yaa ho band
data transmission hota hai
kaise kahoon mein oh yaara yeh
SACK kaise aata hai"
*(SACK = Selective acknowledgement - a packet sent by the receiver to the sender acknowledging the receipt of a set of packets)
When I was in my previous company in India, the Kargil war was on, and in one of the Indo-Pak rivalry chatrooms, we used a modified version of this sher:
"Khud ko itna buland kar ki Kargil ke choti pe jaa pahunche aur khuda tumse pooche 'abe gadhe, ab utrega kaise?' " - which, for the shaayarically challenged means: "Raise yourself to such heights that you find yourself on the tops of the Kargil mountains and the Lord asks you 'you idiot, how will you get down!?' "
If you folks know who authored the original, please let me know.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
which no Indophile should miss. The work of one D V Sridharan (not to be confused with Metro's E Sreedharan), the site consists of true stories from India - stories of sung and unsung heroes (note that I use the term 'hero' without reference to gender). The site has hours and hours of pro-India stories for those that are interested.
If you are ever going to Amazon to purchase a book, please go from the links provided on this site.
Read more about her here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Goodall
Crediting Jane Goodall is not only why I wrote this post. I wrote this to highlight the difference between two classes of societies - one that respects and truly worships its heroes and the other that pretends to. With due apologies to my friend, 'Anonymous', who incidentally accuses me of being 90% American, we know which the two classes of societies are.
Look at the movies Hollywood has made about American heroes. And I am not referring to war heroes, politicians, or sportsmen. I am talking about your 'everyday' mathematician, scientist, or writer. Many examples abound: "A beautiful mind" talked about the achievements of Dr. John Nash, whose Nash equilibrium is said to be one of the building blocks of Operations Research, "Apollo 13" commemorated the bravery of the Apollo 13 astronauts who against great odds managed to finish their intended mission, why even our own Gandhi was first celebrated by Richard Attenborough in what is the classiest movie made about him. Not to mention all the unsung fire-fighters, policemen and other day-to-day heroes who have been celebrated in so many movies.
So the question arises, why don't we have the same in Bollywood? Is it because such movies don't sell? Or is it because as a society we don't really know how to honour our heroes? Is it because we don't like heroes except those imposed upon us - like the cricketers, film stars or politicos? Or, is it because, as a society and a culture, we don't have a sense of history? Why?
I don't know. But I do know that a society that forgets its history is condemned to repeat it.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Sunday, June 11, 2006
You guessed it right. This is my 100th post. At first, I thought I'll follow my favourite TV personality and have a "Best of Gopal's blog" for my 100th post, but I realized that I wasn't *that* self-involved.
So. Here is to further blogging. Thanks to my regular readers for keeping my motivation levels high enough to hit this 'landmark'.
Accepting congratulations... :)
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Couldn't agree more. Thanks 'Anonymous' for the correction. :)
I've always believed that nice guys finish last. No where is it better illustrated in the recent test between India and the West Indies. Lara was way out of line in demanding that Dhoni walk. Dravid should have asked him to shut up first. He thought it was better to declare, rather than waste time, so as a strategy, it is probably OK. What was the need to go to the match-referee and exonerate Lara? Let Lara be dunked a couple of matches - India would have been in a better position to win then. But no, we have to be the nice guys (read fall guys)!
To add injury to insult, Sehwag was fined for excessive appealing. Nice going, Rahul!?
Sunday, May 28, 2006
But what we saw was the occurrence of all three. And there are in fact people who went on national television calling Aamir names - "enemy of Gujarat", for example.
I was discussing this issue with a friend - someone I respect greatly - and his point was that Aamir should have exercised restraint in whatever he did or said. And that what was happening was essentially his (Aamir's) fault.
In my opinion, it is this attitude that has allowed governments, hooligans (read Rajkumar 'fans'), and plain sickos (read VHP/Bajrang Dal/Muslim Personal Law Board/Christian 'activists') to get away with denying us one of the most fundamental human right - the right to speech and expression.
What is your take?
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Why am I talking about this? Well, the recent reservation debates have demonstrated the 'nanny' nature of the Indian state. First, you have a hidden agenda, that comes out only in the last minute. Then, you have the mandatory round of police brutality - non-violent protesters being beaten mercilessly. Finally, you have the denials - the Commisoner of Mumbai Police denying that there was any lathi-charge at all. In fact, Star News did something real cool for once. They broadcast his denial and shots of people being beaten up on a split screen simultaneously. Still, the shameless state did nothing.
Consider this - the brightest, young minds of the country are protesting against an injustice. How does the government treat them? No one listens to them at first, then, the police beat them up, and even after that, no minister had the courtesy to apologize or at least visit the injured students. Contrast this with the treatment given to VIP protesters like Vandana Shiva, Arun'dirty' Roy and Medha Patkar. These worthies are feted, cajoled, and even the tall and mighty Indian state falls at their feet.
I could go on and on about why this is so - but I'll defer it to an other post.
Friday, May 26, 2006
"Why?" asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
"I'm a panda," he says, at the door. "Look it up."
The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.
"Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves."
Came across this in the book "Eats, shoots and leaves" by Lynne Truss.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Needless to say, Vijay Mallya was pilloried by everyone, including the audience, the other debators and the compere. And to add to it, my Mom. Somehow the words "alcohol" raises the temperature of any room it is uttered in, particularly when women are around. Some assumptions are immediately made:
- Only men drink
- Only men drink irresponsibly
- Men drink and they come back and beat their wives/mothers/sisters/daughters
- One drink is enough to convert a man from a normal human being into a raving psychopath/rapist/criminal.
- Anyone who drinks once instantly becomes a slave to the drink and can't live without it
- Every man who drinks is depriving his family of essentials to pay for his habit
- And importantly, any one who tries to introduce some sanity into the debate (poor souls like me) are either drunkards themselves, or they want to become one.
The best part is that all these comments come from those who have *never* had the misfortune of actually consuming alcohol. And you know where they get these ideas from? Depending on your preference, B(T)(K)ollywood. Every villian, particularly in the old Hindi movies would conduct his 'business' over a peg of whiskey. Every vamp would tempt the unsuspecting hero by giving him alcohol. Every heroine or hero's sister would be led astray by first filling her up with alcohol. And mind you, everytime, after one peg, there is no stopping these victims! After one peg of whiskey, the normally sedate hero would starting uttering gibberish, attempt to molest the heroine, drive like a man possessed, and simply make a fool of himself, until the heroine or the mother intervened with a bucket of ice-cold water after which he immediately returns to sanity. Geez!
I know I am going to get spammed like hell, particularly if some people read this. But seriously, grow up, folks!
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Recently, I got an opportunity to talk about C++ to a few colleagues at the place I work (yeah, yet again!), and then a few movie/comicbook dialogues popped up in my mind as I was explaining C++ concepts. Thought it'll be interesting to share them with you.
On the fact that while C++ gives you near total control on how your clients can create and use your objects, you have to take care of many details to make it work properly:
"With great power comes great responsibility" [Original: Dave Parker, Spiderman's uncle.]
On the fact that even when an exception is thrown (not to the runtime), objects that have been created will be destroyed:
"Everything that has a beginning has an end." [Original: Matrix I]
I'll update this post as I find more. And no, I am *not* offering this as proof of my theory about the single thread running through all facets of life. That proof will take some time to materialize.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Here are some dialogues I kind of remember from the series:
Roz telling Frasier after yet another unsuccessful date: "You are sweet, you're smart, you're nice - you are exactly what women should be looking for".
Frasier (with a sad voice): "Yeah, I am the Brocolli of dating!"
This is the first episode, and Martin has just moved into Frasier's apartment. Frasier asks his opinion of how he has setup his living room and Martin cribs "But nothing matches".
Frasier: "Yes Dad. It is _eclectic_"
Now two workers come in carrying Martin's chair. The look on Frasier's face is one of sheer horror. He doesn't want that chair in his living room at _any_ cost.
Frasier: "Dad, but that...that chair doesn't go with anything in the room!"
Martin (with dripping sarcasm): "I know! It is _eclectic_".
Here is another one:
Daphne has become real fat after she and Niles start dating - but no one wants to point it out to her. One day however, she slips and falls. Niles first rushes to lift her up, but he can't. Martin joins in, and they still can't move her. Finally, Frasier arrives and the three lift her up. So, here's what Martin says:
"Daphne, I just thought of somethin' funny: It took three Cranes to lift you!?" [Frasier/Martin/Niles's surname is Crane]
There are so many more...too bad I can't remember all of them! :(
Anyway, here is one from Friends:
Monica and Chandler are dating and they think no one knows. But Rachel and Phoebe know, and Monica and Chandler know that Rachel and Phoebe know. Phoebe and Rachel are coming up with a plan to oust them (Monica and Chandler) and here is what Phoebe says:
"But they don't know that we know that they know we know!"
If you haven't had an opportunity to watch Frasier - do watch it now. Considering the kind of junk that passes for comedy these days (what with Paapa Pandu and the like), you'll definitely find this series refreshing.
Monday, May 08, 2006
You guys know the 'Friends' title song? Well, for the uninitiated, here it is:
"So no one told you life was gonna be this way
[Your job's a joke,
your love life's D.O.A. ]
It's like you're always stuck in second gear
When it hasn't been your day, your week, your month, or even your year " ...
Well, the part of the song enclosed in  was true of my life for a long time, and now with the car, the next line has come true as well!!!
But anyway, on a serious note, driving in Bangalore isn't as bad as it seems. There are still roads on which you can reach 4th gear. Seriously! :)
Friday, May 05, 2006
Obviously, after my parents, my brother has been a big influence on me. He was my first maths and science tutor, my first cricket coach, my first 'how to tackle bullies' instructor, and being fourteen years older than me was my guru for practically everything (except maybe languages, social studies and music). He introduced me to the world of English literature, (read novels) and Old Hindi film music. He gave me my initial goals in life - first to be a participant in many activities, then to enter SJIHS, and then to prepare for the IITs. Ofcourse, not all of those goals materialized and for that no one is to blame but me. The biggest lesson I learnt from him though is that raw talent is nothing without the effort to back it up. That has been the most important lesson in life. Just a pity that I learnt it very late.
The next person I want to credit is my sister-in-law. For a single 1/2 hour session where she taught me the intricacies of C pointers. That lesson is with me even today - and was the single thing that helped me learn pointers - her lesson helped me more than many reads of Kanetkar's "Pointers in C", giving me such a strong basis in pointers that I lost all fear of it :)
Whew! Looks like I wrote quite a bit. And the smell of my mom's cooking is wafting through the air, restricting my vocabulary to food-related words. So, I'll stop here. Do cook up (oops! send in) your comments.
I'll write about my other role models (influences) in the next posts. _That_ should be interesting...
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Another young, able son of India stolen away in 'youth'.
May his soul rest in peace. Am unable to say anything else.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
After this ridiculous coalition of lefties and wannabe-lefties known as the UPA has come into power, we've kept hearing about nothing but 'empowerment' of the so-called backward classes and the minorities. While one cannot be against that in principle, it is the implementation that is causing a lot of disconcertion amongst those who really want empowerment of all sections of society.
It is no one's case that the underprivileged sections of society must be given a chance to compete with the others. But who are the underprivileged? Son of a former railway minister, just because he is a Dalit? Son of a RBI governor, because he belongs to the scheduled castes? Or is it a poor Brahmin's son? Or the daughter of a poor Muslim?
Caste-based reservations haven't really led us anywhere. It is not that the politicians can't see it. But as Ayn Rand eloquently explains in her masterpieces, they are a bunch of second-handers who are out to destroy everything that the first-handers have created.
More on this later...just got back to blogging after a long hiatus.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
Usually, symptoms of this disease manifest themselves during puberty, and while it affects both genders, the male of the species tends to succumb to this more frequently, and with greater intensity. Ofcourse, there is no cure for this disease and while the symptoms may be mitigated, they tend to relapse ever so often. And a miraculous thing about this disease is that its symptoms adhere to Modern Physics - they appear in both space and time, confirming to the eternal Space-Time Continuum. To elaborate, there are three major kinds of symptoms that have been observed. The first is "SITAAT" or Say Inappropriate Thing At Appropriate Time. The second, "SATAIT" or Say Appropriate Thing At Inappropriate Time, and the final one is "SITAIT" or Say Inappropriate Thing At Inappropriate Time. Ofcourse, there is also the rarely occurring DITAAT, DATAIT or DITAIT, with the D standing for "Do", but that is not significant to my discussion and so I'll let that rest.
However, I am not a registered medical practitioner, and with the licensing hawks around, I better take care about diagnosing medical problems on my blog. [Remember, my disclaimer does not still exempt me from any harm that may be caused to someone using information from my blog.] I'll just talk about my symptoms. I have a severe, relapsing case of FIM, known as the FFIM, or the Foot Firmly In the Mouth disease. It's symptoms are similar, but unlike the FIM, where the foot does get to go out of the mouth, when you have the FFIM, the foot just doesn't leave it. Ofcourse, it relapses quite regularly, is mostly harmless, and tends to attack particularly when I am conversing with an (unrelated) female of my species. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the disease immediately 'informs' me that it has set in, but only after the symptom has been broadcast to the entire planet (which according to the Stinky Foot theory of relativity, is at that instant of time constituted of the trigger and me and any others listening in to the conversation). For long, I've been looking for a cure for this disease, but it has eluded me. One way to mitigate the problem, has been to avoid the trigger, but in today's world, that is hardly feasible.
(PS: In case you noticed, I did change my blog to add the disclaimer. So long, suckers!)
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Can you believe it!?
I can't begin to say how wrong this whole thing is. But I'll let that pass. However, at the risk of sounding repetitive, I'll only say what I had said earlier. This is just another symptom of the underlying malaise where societal moores get higher precedence than the legitimate privacy of an individual. People like this warden get the guts to do something like this because the way society reacts to an individual's freedom, because of the kind of support the 'moral police' got during the Khusboo or Suhasini incidents, and because of the whole assumption that wierd concepts of societal honour are more important than individual rights.
God save this country.
This time it is about static blocks in C++. Now what are static blocks? They are a cool feature in Java that lets you write code that executes when a class is loaded. For example:
private static Vector data;
public static void main (String args )
for ( int i = 0; i < data.size(); i++ )
data.insert (new Integer(10));
So, how would you do this in C++? Ofcourse, you have static variables that can be initialized before the program starts (or the library loads). But how will you insert values into a map, or a vector?
Well, the answer is simple. Use another static object. In its constructor, perform the initialization that you want. :)
using namespace std;
Static ( )
for ( ; b != values.end(); b++ )
cout << *b << endl;
VectorInitializer ( )
friend class Static::VectorInitializer;
static Static::VectorInitializer initalizer; //initializes the vector.
int main ( void )
While on this, can someone tell me how I can get code into HTML without the associated struggle? Thanks! :)
Saturday, March 18, 2006
On both these aspects, India fails quite miserably at times. For an instance of what I mean, see this story:
A young Muslim girl from one of Kerala's districts is learning classical dance. And is pretty good at it too. Her parents support it as well. But meanwhile, we have the local demagogues who have ostracized her family because of this.
So, what we have is a classic example of the conflict between the right of an individual to lead their lives and the power wielded by society. Fortunately, this time, the right of the individual seems to have the upper hand, but it is anyone's guess as to how long that'll last. And where are the 'guardians of public interest' now? Why are they silent? Why is Brinda Karat, who frets and fumes on women's rights, silent when faced with a real-life issue?
Before you think I am a different kind of (anti-Muslim) demagogue, let me clarify that I feel the same way when young friends are beaten up in UP parks, or when couples taking a walk in a park are harassed by the police, or when girls are killed to 'defend family honour'. My point is simply this - if the right of the individual is subjugated to the brute force of society, that society is not democratic.
Which, unfortunately, still holds for our dear own India.
However, in all of this, I suffer from what I call the "Average curse". While I may not suck at any of these, I am not exactly an expert in any of them. There is always someone in my friends' circle who can thrash me in each one of these. For example, for everything technical, my good friend Balbir is head and shoulders above me. If you take cricket, there are at least three or four of my close friends who can whack my bowling for over 20 runs in an over, and prevent me from scoring any when they come on to bowl. And then there is TT, where again, I am an also ran. If it comes to music/singing, even my nephews can do better! My brother may not have had formal training in music, but he can recognize raagas even before I can hear them!
In fact, like fractals for which the part is a reflection of the whole, my average curse takes effect both at macro and at micro levels. In computers, for example, I am supposed to have done a Masters' degree with specialization in compiler concepts, but I know atleast two people with no formal background in the field who can run rings around me in the subject. The same applies to networking or security - two fields on which I've worked earlier. Or for that matter, C++ - my favourite language.
So, essentially, you get the bane of my life - being average. An also ran. Now, don't get me wrong. It is not that I am frustrated with what I have. I mean, there is a wholely positive side to this - I do have some amazing friends who can keep me on my toes all the time. But still, there is one side of me that wishes I had something of my own - where I could be a Vijayan, if not a Stroustrup.
Anyways, had to get that off my chest.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
A few days back, I was talking to my Mom about my nephews (see them here) and she mentioned that my younger nephew, Vikas used to spray himself with my deo (oh yes, I use one) before going out to play. Then, she mentioned how he wanted to do everything I did - and then it struck me - I was a role model for my nephews. Not that it is surprising, after all, we all look up to the uncles, aunties and siblings who can bridge the gap between our parents and ourselves. Most of us have had the cool aunt, cool uncle or cool elder brother/sister who gave us our initial goals in life. However, in my case, my nephews and I are more friends than uncle/nephews. I never expected them to imitate any of what I did - so this came as a kind of a surprise. Now on, I've got to be more careful about what I say or do - I now have two pairs of eyes that'll be watching me.
This reminds me, I've got a lot to write about my role models. Let me start with my parents. They are probably the most honest, tough and yet nice people I've seen in my life. Both came from extremely poor backgrounds, starting their lives in a village called Nambihalli - in Kolar district. Both knew the value of education when they were very young - my mom having fought with my grandparents to be the first person in her family to pass 10th, and my dad having lived on "vaaranna/bhikshanna" to finish his BSc at Bangalore's Central College. I won't pretend that they've had the perfect marriage - but their commitment to each other and to my family has been nothing but marvelous. They displayed the true meaning of sacrifice - giving up their chance at a good life for my uncles and aunts (on both sides of the family) - spending more than 80% of 'our' income on their education. In all this, did I mention that my mom sings and my dad writes!? Not to mention, both have a keen sense of what is happening in the world around them.
Anyways, this post is starting to go beyond the lengths of reasonable comprehension. I'll stop here - feel free to post your comments and your role model experiences!
Sunday, March 05, 2006
All of which is something I never got to see in Bangalore. This year however, thanks to the unprecendented rainfall and cold during last winter, many trees near my place had shed their leaves - and when I returned from Kansas City, all that greeted me were dry twigs. And after the rains the day before, the tree has sprouted leaves again - renewal greeting me in the morning! What a spectacular sight!
While on the topic, some of my friends have remarked that I am all logic and no feeling. Boy! has _that_ hurt!? Why is it that if you appreciate the fact it is chlorophyll that gives leaves their colour, you are branded as someone who can't appreciate the One's talent in creating it? I guess I simply can't get over my typecasting issues!!! :D
Anyway, read this for some old opinions on a similar topic.
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake
That "heaven of freedom". Indeed. Funny how far away we've come from these ideals! But that is beside the point. Along with Nehru, whose "Tryst with destiny" speech, in my opinion, sets out the Indian dream, Tagore is one of those thinkers who knew the real meaning of freedom.