Tuesday, December 26, 2006

My darling buddy's engagement!!!

I was eagerly looking up to this event and eventual trip to Jalgaon not only because it was one of my best buddy's engagement, but also because a couple of my old hostel buddies would be there!

Trip didn't start well, planning went a little wrong. Confused, I didn't buy tickets for my bro. Later we managed to give a call and book an extra ticket though. But the tirade we had was really bad! Then, one of our buddies had to cut the plans for some urgent crisis needed his attention. Then, my friend, Sandwich (aka. Nautical, High Volume Low Density, Romi, or even Romesh occasionally) got off from rickshaw at wrong place. None tooooo serious, but all these looked as a premonition to spoiling the whole of trip. Thank GOD, I was wrong!

Journey in semi-sleeper was good, though the window did open every 15 minutes to let a strong jet of freezing cold air onto me. I had to get up and close it every so often. But nothing spoiled the talk that I had with Sandwich. He's in India Navy and I wanted to know everything he did and does almost instantly! The bus did breakdown 2-3 times and caused a delay of 2 hrs. But as we reached Jalgaon there was someone ready to pick us up. Once at hotel, we had a bath, shaved, brushed our teeth, and had good amount of tea. At least trip was getting exciting now.

(L-R: Sandwich and Vabs in hotel lobby)

(L-R: Sandwich and myself. That's Sandwich's much revered Indian Navy ID card I'm holding!)

We then reached Bansi's place. (Bansi is also known as Vinay Bansal, Paneer, or Punjabi du..., well last name's censored for general public!) Nothing could beat the fun of getting with old timers and talk about lovely days spent at hostel: those lovely moments spent together, studying in PL, cursing mess food, cursing the college, playing pranks on each other, going out for dinner, mess duties, volleyball tournaments, getting fired by rector, sneaking out for a movie, reading magazines (you know which ones ;-) ) taking care of each other when we were sick, and above all, pulling each other legs on stupid mistakes!!! The list can just go on.

After really heavy breakfast, we drove to Shirpur, 101 kms from Jalgaon, to Payal Bhabhi's hometown where engagement was scheduled to take place. That journey was memorable too. The whole day we kept on eating like bottomless pits, and blabbering on and on and on as if there's no tomorrow!

(L-R: Sandwich and Bansi, Dhulae Raja-to-be!)

Being Bansi's closest buddies we enjoyed good deal of attention! It was fun harassing Bansi in front of bhabhi, who sweetly took everything in the right spirit, though internally she must have felt like killing us ;-) Myself, Vabs & Sandwich had to make a premature departure since we had a bus booked back to Pune the same day. So, with his Mom-Dad's permission, we moved out. None of us felt like coming back. And that desire only grew stronger as we waited for 2 good hours for the bus to take off! Felt like running back and giving all a pleasant surprise. But we all had commitments of next day to honour and had to be back on time, while the rest of gang drove off to a resort and had MORE fun there! Journey back was also marked by constant exchange of happenings in each other's life. Man, I can't wait to be at his wedding now! Wish it will be MORE fun than this!

Charming Bansi and Sweet Bhabhi:

Bansi has now entered a stage, envied by all married & revered by bachelors to be the most exciting phase of marriage: post engagement and pre-marriage! All the best Bansi & Bhabhi, from all of us! Yes, after all it's first of my close buddies' engagement, I have all right to be as excited!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Coma already liking it!

Coma, by Robin Cook, is regarded, by many, as pinnacle of medical thriller! Now I now know why! After a really long hiatus, with effort, I have re-started reading. Piles of unread books in the library really hurts, you know!Just 21-31 pages into it, and I'm already liking it! WOW! Scene in the first few pages sent chills down my spine. Since last 2 days I've been reading it till I drop asleep in my bed and my mom then has to come over and switch off the lights. Wish I could read it faster. What are you waiting for???? Just grab a copy and devour it right away!!!

Take my word for it, it's an amazing non-put-downable page turner.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Upcoming Movies: A quick preview

It is after a LONG LONG time I managed to get a quick preview of some of the trailers. So...
Here you go buddies, list of hand-picked movies to expect, which would be worth watching in 2007, at least the trailers makes me think so. Though, it would be anywhere between half a year to a year that these movies will be released here in India. Genres vary from thriller, drama, horror to action.
Note: You better have high speed net connection to watch them!

1. 300 (Warner Bros.)
Based on the epic graphic novel by Frank Miller, 300 is a ferocious retelling of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae in which King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and 300 Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes and his massive Persian army. Facing insurmountable odds, their valor and sacrifice inspire all of Greece to unite.

2. Deja Vu (Touchstone)
(Watch out for Denzel Washington!)
It is deja vu that unexpectedly guides ATF agent Doug Carlin through an investigation into a shattering crime. Called in to recover evidence after a bomb sets off a cataclysmic explosion on a New Orleans Ferry, Carlin is about to discover that what most people believe is only in their heads is actually something far more powerful.
Adding a new level to the investigation is a top-secret FBI invention, which allows a select group to view the past on screen as if it had been videotaped days earlier.

3. Blood Diamond (Warner Bros.)
It Will Cost You Everything!
A farmer, a smuggler, and a syndicate of businessmen match wits over the possession of a priceless diamond.

4. Breach (Universal)
Inspired by the true story of the greatest security breach in U.S. history!!!
FBI upstart Eric O'Neill enters into a power game with his boss, Robert Hanssen, an agent who was ultimately convicted of selling secrets to the Soviet Union.

5. Perfume (Dream Works SKG)
He lived to find beauty. He killed to possess it!
Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, born with no sense of odor, develops a superior olfactory sense, which he uses to create the world's finest perfumes. His work, however, takes a dark turn as he searches for the ultimate scent.

6. Premonition (Sony Pictures)
Reality is only a nightmare away!
A housewife is shocked when her husband dies in a car crash and reappears the next day. She realizes it was a premonition and tries to avoid the tragedy.

7. Primeval (Touchstone)
A news team is sent to South Africa to capture and bring home a legendary 25-foot crocodile. Their difficult task turns potentially deadly when a warlord targets them for death.

8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Warner Bros.)
Strange events are occurring in New York City, and the Turtles are needed more than ever, but Raphael... hey, watch the trailer and you tell me the rest!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Don't watch DOA

Take a piece of my advise and don't watch this movie: Dead or Alive, DOA. I know that looking at the movie posters you might very much be tempted to do exactly the opposite, just like me ;-) ! Of course if you are a teenager, you might end being a die hard fan of this movie. Or if you have nothing else to do and just want to kill time watching the bikini-clad babes on action spree, GO FOR IT! For at least one thing, it's worth watching Holly Valance, she's just GOD damned soooo se... err... beautiful!

BTW, if you get hold of the DVD, without spending too much money (not more than 30/-) watch it, you won't regret, at least for Holly!!!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Vacation to Far East: Itinerary

In continuation to my earlier post: Vacation to Far East: Avoid Travel Agencies! which grew too long to include detailed intnerary...

Here's my detailed itinerary. I've included hotel names, you can use them for reference when you plan your own trip. Most of the hotels were good, except where noted.

Day 0 27-Oct-06
  • Assemble at Sahar International Airport

Day 1 28-Oct-06
  • Arrive at Kuala Lumpur Air port
  • Crash into hotel "First World" at Genting High Land
  • Outdoor Theme Park at Genting

Day 2 29-Oct-06
  • Arrive in Kuala Lumpur
  • Hotel Grand Continental

Day 3 30-Oct-06 (still in Kuala Lumpur)
  • Half Day City Tour (Man, we missed going on top of Petronas Tower, it's closed for visitors on Mondays)
  • Train to Singapore, at night

Day 4 31-Oct-06
  • Arrive in Singapore in early morning at Hotel "Windsor"
  • Shopping the whole day!

Day 5 01-Nov-06
  • Half Day City Tour
  • Sunset Sentosa: Sentosa Island (one of the sexiest place out there!)

Day 6 02-Nov-06
  • Board the flight to Bangkok
  • Drive to Pattaya, hotel Beverly Plaza (this wasn't a great hotel)
  • Alkazar Show

Day 7 03-Nov-06
  • Coral Island Tour: Another SEXY place!

Day 8 04-Nov-06
  • Drive to Bangkok hotel "Bangkok Palace" (Baiyoke Sky Hotel is much better, but we didn't get a room there)

Day 9 05-Nov-06

Day 10 06-Nov-06
  • Half Day City Tour

Day 11 07-Nov-06
  • Shopping
  • Alas!!!! Flight back to Mumbai

Vacation to Far East: Avoid Travel Agencies!

I know buddies that it has beeen really long that you guys are eagerly waiting for the next post... but as you might have guessed, things are not cool here :-( with 3-4 releases AT A TIME on my head, it is not easy to handle :-( I have an angry boss after me, too much work to complete, loads of personal work to do at home, angry friends, angry family, etc.......zzzzzz hey you there, please don't sleep!!! I'm coming to the point...

Before I post Day-01, I would like to talk about the travel plans aka itinerary. Would have made more sense had it been before Day 00 post.

Everything was planned by my Godfather, since he has been there 'n' times. He knew all the streets byheart, which Indian restaurant to have food at, what places to visit, what places NOT to visit, etc. Bookings for hotels, flights, private mini-van, etc. were done via an agent in Mumbai. Since it was a private tour, we had the luxury to cut the crap and only visit the places that are worth our time.

Here's one lesson I've learnt: Never, never, never, never, ever, go through any damn tours and travels agency!!! (For records, we had booked with a travel agency, but thank God, we cancelled it over some issue with the their attitude!) You have hundreds of advantages when you don't go in with tours, will try to list a few, to keep this post short(???):

1. You are 'free'!!! And that matters! (Ever heard of FSF?)
You are tired today, and want to just go somewhere closeby you can do that. You are not interested in historical monuments, you can cut it off!!! You want to visit a nearby park, you can visit it. You can do anything you want to!!! You can alter your plans on the fly! We saw the plight of a group who HAD to get their a$es up at 6 in the morning and join the parade to board the bus, roam around aimlessly around the city and crash in the bed at the end of the day. Too mechanical. You guessed it right, they were with some travel agency. If we felt toooooo tired, we could just spend an hour extra in the bed and then make up for it by hurrying on breakfast, or shopping, or skipping places or two.

2. Privacy: Matters a LOT when you are your own group of 10-20 people.
You can be just yourself! If, like me, you don't like tooooooo much crowd, avoiding with tours agency would be disappointing. You will have a bus full of people with everywhere you go. Most of whom you don't know, lest, you might not even be interested in knowing them. Of course unless there are beautifu......

3. Save on time: You don't necessarily have to visit every God damned historical monument only because it's free of cost! The Tours' people will insist on it just to say that he showed you so many places. With them, you can't just walk out of the group.

4. Save on money: I don't have the exact metrics, but you do save a lot, because you are cutting down 1 level of indirection. Besides whatever you save is worth it, even after taking into account the effort you have to put in planning it. You can actually save more if you eliminate the agent by booking things online.

Well, there's one disadvantage, if you are pure vegetarian like my gang. Difficult to get good vegetarian food out in Far East. This is the only point where travel angecies have advantage: they usually take their own cooks & so is easier to cook to travellers' taste and needs.

But that said and noted, nothing just falls into your lap. You should have GOOD prior study of places of interest, how to reach there, time it takes to commute, means of commuting, entry fee if any (after all the trouble it should be afforable!), etc. Most often, you will find all the relevant info on net. There are some books like Lonely Planet which are talked about by travel enthusiasts. Don't have personal opnion on that book, though. And other very reliable way is to talk to people who have already been there.

(Note: detailed itinerary in next post, this got tooooooo big: Vacation to Far East: Itinerary!)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Vacation to Far East: Day00 Airports

I know all of you have been waiting too eargerly for the snaps as well as the detailed blog on my vacation. There are just tooooooooo many photos, from 6-7 memory sticks, all unsorted. Sorting them day-wise itself took me well over 4-5 hours of non-stop work. In all, I had been to Malaysia (Genting), Singapore, Pattaya and Bangkok.

Now, I'm uploading them selectively day-wise, in all for 10 days. Hope you enjoy reading my story and seeing the photos. I'll start small, so will talk only about Airports I visited on Day00!

27 Nov - 28 Nov 2006 Bangkok and Malaysia Airports.

In all we were 12 people, 6 elders and 6 youngsters, all family friends.

(L-R: Mom, Alekha, Daddy, Neil, Mamta Aunty, Godfather, Zebu, Vabs, Satara's Collector, Kanchan Aunty)

It was my first time out of India, so was very excited to fly, and see places outside my comfort zone. I was speechless the moment I steped down on the Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport. If this were to be compared to a 5-start hotel, our own Sahar Airport is not even close to roadside dhaba!!! About the airpot, one can bloody keep walking on and on and the airport would still refuse to show a dead end!!! I believe you can spend the whole of 3-4 days just exploring this wonderful place. So huge it is that 76 flights can operate every hour!!! It has two 5-storey car park buildings with a combined capacity of 5,000 cars. Man, it really has to be HUGE! After all, Size Does Matter ;-)

Here, have a look at my album of Day-00.

You can even visit this album, see which is faster for you.
Image hosted by Webshots.com
by princeatul: Day 00: Far East Bangkok & Malaysia Airports

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Top 10 things to do when your ISP is down

Was bored to death, thought of posting some fun stuff...

1. Open the curtains and see if anything has changed over the past 2 years.
2. Re-introduce yourself to your immediate family.
3. Is there really something else to do?
4. Run in circles, screaming hysterically about the end of the world.
5. Reset Modem: repeat.
6. Create your own IM bot to converse with.
7. Open up the old ping'ing shell script.
8. take a shower and scrape off mould/fern from body.
9. Call up and check if your friends are still alive.
10. Find a better ISP, you idiot!!!

Want to add more? Be my guest, then!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Vacation Blues

Well, a LONG gap tells that something happened... Yes, indeed something happened!

(feeding a cub at the Safari World, Bangkok)

(My younger bro, vabs, aka bulldozer, kissing the sexy Dolphin!!!)

I was on a 10-day vacation to the far east: Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. Being first real vacation in 4+ years, it was AWESOME! Away from computers (real tough!!!), coding, debugging, review meetings, and such other mundane worldly activities, it was a welcome break. Will post in more detail soon, this post is just to indicate that I am still alive and kicking asses harder than ever!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Festival of Lights...

Here's the festival wishing for all you my readers...

May each and every light illuminated in this Diwali bring a ray of Joy, Prosperity and Happiness to you!!!

Wish you and your loved ones A Very Happy Diwali and Prosperous New Year!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Incredible Honda Civic Ad

I bet you must have seen the extremely famous Honda Accord ad, aka 'Honda COG Commercial'.
(note: I hate to say this, but you are insane if you haven't see that ad! BTW, above link is your one chance to exculpate yourself!)

Having an uncanny knack to make one of the most unconventional ads, here's another supremely sexy ad for one for it's most sexy car, Honda Civic.

Speciality about this add is that all the sound effects were made by a human chorus in this UK Honda Civic commercial. Any attempt to praise this ad would be just futile, it's simply IMPOSSIBLE to do any justice in words!


via: TechEBlog

1 http://www.tabloidcolumn.com/honda-accord-cog.html
2 http://the-shaolin.blogspot.com/2006/07/head-over-heels.html
3 http://www.techeblog.com/index.php/tech-gadget/top-5-most-creative-ads

--- re edit ---
If you don't get the video, just click this

Friday, October 13, 2006

GDB: Readline vi Mode

Only the ardent most of vi lovers will appreciate this...
I was debugging my program that was SIGSEGV'ing. After a couple of runs, my left-right and up-down arrow keys stopped working in gdb! Annoyed I switched the termnial to have a second look at the code, when I returned to GDB terminal... lo and behold... in my instinctive way used vi's 'k' and 'j' keys! BINGO! I just found out that there indeed is a vi mode in gdb too! And I bet not many know that, and hence this post.

If you don't care reading any further, you can enable vim editing mode by pressing: Ctrl-Alt-j Now pressing Esc will enter you in command mode.

For the more persistent readers...
Being an ardent lover of vim, the only TRUE programmer's editor (Emacs is a nice OS, but it lacks a good editor, that's why I use vim), I do all my work in vi: be it coding, writing mail, compose documents, blog, etc. etc. Anything that you can think of which requires writing more than few sentences, I do it in vim. In any other editor, I feel handicaped! So much so, that I even use vi mode on my BASH shell! That way I can really type and manipulate anything with eye-flashing speed. (Tip: This can really impress people [...cough ...cough...] at times ;-) )

$ set -o vi
This will put your command editing in vi mode. Press ESC and you get all of vi cursor movement and most of text editing commands. So when I found this under gdb, I was just flabbergasted! It's called 'vim readline mode' in gdb. Damn! Why I didn't think of this earlier, the world's MOST versatile debugger ought to have such features!

Now I won't have to move my hands off in brain-dead fashion at snail slow speed to and from the arrow keys! One of the best things about vim is if, like me, you are a touch typist and prefer typing really fast (for you don't want to miss anything that's on your mind), you won't want to move your hands off their position on keyboard often. And this is _exactly_ where Emacs fails, miserably! A tech-tip post after a long long time.

1 VIM Tip-1 http://the-shaolin.blogspot.com/2004/12/my-own-2-cent-vim-tip.html
2 VIM Tip-2 http://the-shaolin.blogspot.com/2005/03/vim-tip.html
3 Gdb Readline vi Mode http://sunsite.ualberta.ca/Documentation/Gnu/gdb-5.0/html_node/gdb_237.html

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Disable automatic install of IE 7

If you have a windows system, you are likely to do a regular 'Windows Update' to apply all the critical high priority patches, without which it's likely some hacker or a nasty worm would easliy @!#$ your system. How would you feel that while doing so, M$ just installed one of it's crapiest pieces of nonsense on your system: Internet Explorer, IE7!!! Yes, you are going to be taken by surprise when they find out that IE 7 is going to be installed as a high-priority update automatically via Windows Update. A serious issue for security driven sys admins!!!

What scares me is that the day is not far when M$ will even go a step further and uninstall Firefox, Mozilla, Opera, GoogleDesktop, etc!!! Man, they have just came a step closer to it!

Here's the detailed post on this issue via IntelliAdmin: Disable automatic install of IE 7.
Quicklink, there's also a tool provided by M$ to disable this shit.

Friday, October 06, 2006


Last weekend I could reunite with my really old buddy, Amito, or Shaw, (Americanized version of his last name, Shah ;-) A few months back he bought a stunning new flat and this small dinner at his place would serve both purposes: reunion as well as see this new house! He sent a map to his place, and gave a few directions. Unfortunately I couldn't follow any of them properly, I was too new to that location, so was he! After calling him n times, and noting directions again and again, 4-5 trips around the place, we both got tired and a little frustrated. It was then I realized that we both are interpreting directions from opposite sides!!! His left was actually my right!!! LOL! Lesson learnt in following directions!!! Anyway, after some effort I got to his place, I walked through all the rooms and the balconys just took my breath away!!! Wish I had reached there a little sooner, I would have been able to enjoy the wonderful view from the balcony. (his online album containing new house's picture is private, so you will to wait till he makes it public).

I hogged on the amazing home cooked Pizza (yummmmyyyy... thanks to his mom and sis). But the best was yet to come....

This is where the title of this posts becomes relevant....
Old college days, nothing like recalling those golden years spent in college: subjects we hated, subjects that terrorized us, professors we liked, lectures we enjoyed, fun we had, fun we missed, picnics we went to, gotchas in labs, exams, practicals, etc. For good part of 2 hrs or so we had amazing time getting nostalgic and having a GOOD laugh!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

How do you define an ideal algorithm

Ever wondered what is the definition of an ideal algorithm. Well...
THE perfect definition of an ideal algorithm:

Good algorithms should be like bikinis...
It should save people a lot of guesswork.

Adopted from original quote by Sam Ewing:
Computers are like bikinis. They save people a lot of guesswork.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Some more birthday photos

As promised, I've updated my album with my birthday photos.

1. Lunch with office buddies
2. Surprise mini-party society buddies threw

[1] http://family.webshots.com/album/554539699Ntxodu
[2] http://family.webshots.com/album/554586715SQdBxv
[3] http://the-shaolin.blogspot.com/2006/09/many-many-happy-returns-of-day.html

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Nevis Picnic, finally!!!

So finally, after LOT of, hmm... I don't know what, we finally went for a one day outing from Nevis. This just the second BIG outing from Nevis in 3+ yrs or so!!!On a short, 3 days, notice so many of the employees couldn't manage: reasons vary from their spouses couldn't get a leave, they already had make plans which can't be changed, to plain retaliation against this kind of short notice. The spot was Upper Deck Resort in Lonavala.

The place has GREAT scenic beauty, but the resort by itself SUCKS big time! To start with the prices are astronomical (1500/- per head!), and this only includes your breakfast, lunch & snacks. You have to shell out additional 350/- if you want to swim in this damn pool!

I'm not even talking about other facilities like spa or something!!! Single bottle of cold-drink worth Rs.15/- was given to us at the rate of Rs.35-40!!! Plus, the way from main road to resort is nothing less than driving through rocks! You can't dare getting your vehicle up there! So, these !@#$ers charge you 150/- per head to transport you up to the resort. Climbing 4-5 kms patch is not tough on foot, but for people with small kids that was out of question.

Grievances aside, once in we had a ball! This is while climbing up the way to resort

(photo credit: Manish. L-R: Boney, Sweta, myself, Kaushik, Sachin & Kiran)
Here you see wonderful mountain right from where I was having breakfast!

Beautiful little fish in bowl besides my table.

While exploring the place around, we spotted three monkeys mimicking Gandhji's: Talk no evil, See no evil, hear no evil! (L-R: myself, Sachin, Manish)

(photo credit: Sweta. L-R: myself, Sachin & Manish)

We trekked around the resort for good 2-3 hours, then played football, TT and antakshari. While trekking, all my buddies were quite tolerant of my photography experiments. Here you see me trying my hand at macro photography: this little caterpillar

You can see the whole of album on my webshots page.

[1] http://good-times.webshots.com/album/554541180rFYjvF
[2] http://www.upperdeckresort.com/contact.htm
Photo credits: Myself (Fuji FinePix S3000), except where noted.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Mother's comforting words...

Nothing like comforting words of a mother! I was feeling a little worried, after I came back from football session, an unlikely situation. Maybe an unwanted thread came to life in my subconscious. And the best part is neither me nor mom had to know the exact problem!!! This, then, doesn't seem to be an overstatement:

God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers

Thursday, September 28, 2006

First Impressions of Sony W700i

Yesterday was the first time I thought I should put the WalkMan abilities of my Sony W700i to test. WOW!!! Was the first word that came out of me the moment I plugged the special Sony Fontopia Earphones and played Madonna's 'Die Another Day'! The moment you put them on, the special ear plug technology shields ANY and EVERY sound around you! All you hear is PURE music! Very innovative design. And the effect is nothing less than my Creative Inspire 5200 5.1 speakers!!! I'm tempted to say that I have never heard such good quality music on any other Nokia phones!

So for all you audiophiles, go for Sony W-series if you want to double up your phone as source of musical orgasm! Besides, the control buttons are aptly designed and placed. No nonsense and providing all the power you want to control what you listen to, while the rest of your keypad is locked. What is really additionally cool is that the headphones disconnect in between, and allow you to connect the phone easily to your amplifier or music system with off the shelf standard connector!!! Pretty cool! So much impressed was one of my colleagues (who was planning to buy a mobile) here in office that he went straight to the shop and asked for the same phone. (He ended up buying the later version W800).

As to phone features, the only thing that I'm missing is it's organizer doesn't allow you to categorize appointments as Birthday, Meeting, Reminder, etc. It's PC-sync works pretty well. Great for backing up contacts and appointments.

Camera performance already posted at Sony W700i camera on test.
Didn't try anything too exotic, but for simple day-to-day point & shoot functionality it is more than satisfactory.

Here's where you can see that earphones can be disconnected and you can hook in your line-in wire here.

[1] http://the-shaolin.blogspot.com/2006/09/sony-w700i-camera-on-test.html
[2] http://the-shaolin.blogspot.com/2005/02/my-new-pc_17.html

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Many Many Happy Returns of the day

That was the mantra the whole of yesterday!!!

First off, I want to thank all of my family & buddies for making this birthday a very special event, just in case I haven't done so personally. Usually I'm not very excited about birthdays, and just take the day as any normal day. But it was for my family and buddies who made me feel SO SPECIAL that I was deeply touched. Was working late on 26th night and was reminded of my birthday in few minutes by a buddy. Nothing special, I shrugged, with YAD, 'yet another day', in life attitude. On most of earlier occasions I had dozed off long before midnight. As soon as the clock struck 0001 hrs calls and sms'es started pouring in! My parents, bro and godfather were at home too! By the time I was done taking blessings from parents and good wishes from buddies it was well past 1 AM! That is when I felt, I'm going to have a great day ahead!

Even while I reached office and was at office, the calls and sms'es didn't stop. And not to forget so many emails and hundreds of scraps on Orkut!!! So much so, I have not been able to respond to even 25% of the scraps yet. At office, buddies gave me a surprise treat!!! Back home in the evening, my bro & buddies @ my society gave me another surprise: they had put up a kind of mini-party!!! It was so much fun to have all the attention and everybody around you (esp @ office even where some people don't even know you) is so kind to you! For a moment I felt the day should not pass away. Alas! What comes has to go back where it came from! As the day ended, I had grown a year younger (only SICK people grow old), was a year wiser, came closer to friends and had few more blessings! As I type all this, the happy moments with everyone yesterday come vividly flashing in front of me.

Here I'm being ragged before I'm allowed to feast on the yummy chocolate cake!

Maa, see what they did to me!

Having lunch at peace, finally!

More photos to come, will share them tomorrow.

Heartfelt thanks to all of you who, knowingly & unknowingly, made my day special!

Photo Credits: Archana Limaye.
--- edit ---
As promised, here are more photos from my birthday bash
1. Lunch with office buddies
2. Surprise mini-party society buddies threw

Browser Stats, very pleasing!

This is the Browser Stats as seen on my blog on 27th July! Glad my readers are aware of the fact that Firefox is FAR better a browser (rather THE browser) compared to... you know what! But I would love it to be Firefox 100%!!!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Microsoft's Masterpiece of FUD

I have been very much aware of M$'s FUD (Fear, Uncertanity & Doubt) tactics and couldn't resist sharing this LJ article with you: Microsoft's Masterpiece of FUD

You don't necessarily have to hate M$ or be an ardent fan of Linux or Free Software to enjoy reading this article. Of course satisfying both conditions will only help make more sense out of the article.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Have you ever wondered...

Wanted to share this for LONG, but always shrugged it... only until now...

Did you ever notice that whenever you open the tap to wash your hands, or clean a cup, or razor, or anything else, you (& everyone else) just opens the tap to it's full force!!! NO!!! Well, then observe it once. Now that you are conscious of this, you will have to observe someone else do it. Pantry is the BEST place to watch for such things. What I'm trying to get at is, we don't have to open the tap to full force. With almost 10-25% of tap's full capacity, you can get 95% of your work done. Water is a VERY VERY precious resource, ask someone who lives in a desert. In cities, we usually tend to be oblivious to this problem and then one fine sunny say in summer we curse our municipal corporations that they are incapable of managing water. Have YOU ever contributed to it by being conscious of your own water usage? I'm more sensitive or aware of this maybe because I'm predisposed with this instinct, by great forefathers, my ancestors, are from most arid of deserts. But we, as educated and sensible citizens, can try to save as much water as we can. And believe me, it's not that big an effort. But imagine the savings we can get by even 10% of our total Indian population (of 1.1 billion as of 2006) practicing this moderation!!!

You never know that your moderation might help some poor farmer in a remote village with his crops!

Why do we study that braindead subject of Civics in schools?

On the way to for exhilarating Sunday football game, me & my buddy Adi were discussing the !@$#ing sad sate of Pune roads. Trying to share a gist of the same...

We study a subject called Civics in our schools. Idea is to make the literate mass (BTW, there's marked difference between educated and literate masses) aware of their rights and duties. But what the subject is full of is sadist numbers (no of ppl to make a assembly meeting going, et.al.), criterias (to become PM, MLA, etc.), irritating dates, and all other utterly useless shit. The subject SHOULD be meant to teach about civility, isn't it! Why should it NOT include what to do when you are cheated by a shopkeeper? What accounts as cheating to consumers? How to deal in consumer courts? Is there such a thing called as case against the government? Where to demand better quality of infrastructure? After all we professional salaried people pay !@#$ing 30%+ of our hard earned salary for all this. But unfortunately it finds it's way in safes of the braindead corrupt officers. How do you charge such imbeciles? I'm sure even the most literate (and educated) of us might not have slightest idea of this!!!

Isn't all this a part of our civil rights? In fact Civil Duty, I would say. But all that we study in our textbooks is utter nonsense & absolutely useless. Just a means of wasting kids' valuable time & making money out of selling textbooks.

Weekend Mission: Clearing up all Postal Mails

This weekend I picked up the MOST daunting of tasks: Organizing hoards of letters & documents that have been accumulating for more than 3 yrs now!!! If you are staying alone, in your own flat, with a bank account, and maybe a loan and subscription to few mags (which means MOST of us) and above all if you are incharge of handling every incoming postal mail, then you know what I'm talking about! A few days back I desperately wanted a document and to my dismay I didn't know where I put it Arrgghhh!@#$ I knew it is safe some where, but I sniffed out every corner of my house and failed miserably to locate it. That is the time when it dawned upon me that I haven't organized LOT of my documents (coming in mostly via post) for about 2-3 years now. And I vouched to clear the mess the very next weekend.

Saturday looked promising... Brushed my teeth, had bath, filled my stomach with good breakfast and was feeling like kicking some a$. What better task could I think of! It took me well over 4 gruelling hours to get through the backlog. Property papers, property taxes papers, IT papers, electricity bills, water bills, society maintainenece bills, bank statements, milkman bills, purchace invoices, gaurantee cards, etc.: in short it meant that I will have to scan through more than 150 postal mails and sort them out and throw away the unwated ones. You won't understand the pain of doing this and neither the value in doing so unless you have done it at least once. I made 3 passes to locate every document that I had stuffed in drawers, under the beds, under pillow, inside cupboards, my bag, old files, and everywhere else you can think of.

Though not very crisp, for the uninitiated, here are a few tips that I would LOVE to share. Categorize your documents in 3-4 categories:

1. Permanent
- These are the documents that you MUST preserve for your life
- Includes property papers, car papers, taxes filed & paid, payslips, etc.
- Your achievement proofs: gard certificate, educational certficates, etc.

2. Long Lived, 5+ yrs
- You need them handy whenever you planning anything big, like going for a loan, big vacation
- Can't think of anything right now

3. Short lived, 1-5 yrs
- You can afford to dispose them off after a year. You are sure you WON'T need them again because they are outdated anyways.
- Credit Card bills, purchase bills, gaurantee cards, yearly bank statements.

4. Ephemeral, less than a year
- You can do without them and should be disposed off every 6 months or so.
- Paper/milk/maid bills, subscription mails, telephone bills.
- Should the need arise, you can easliy get a duplicate copy

Have at least 1 file each for the above category. Add-remove categories as per your need, but don't forget to live by it and cleanup and rearragne as and when necessary. Otherwise you will find yourself in oacen of papers and won't have a clue as to how to get rid of it.

This might not reflect the magnitute of papers I cleared, but here's the photo of 150+ emptied envelopes stacked besides a CD cover. When not empty, the stack would have been easily 5x-8x this height! Keep a box handy, prefereably near your enterance, where you can deposit all the mails that you get home. If this box is NOT the first thing you notice after entering home, then it's likely your mail won't find it's way into it. Every week, or fortnight scan through it, categorize and file it. Index and label your files properly. You can go a step further and maintain ToC (Table of Contents) for your easy reference.

Any more tips and tricks are MOST welcome. This was a small but IMPORTANT lesson for the rest of my life.

Besides this, it was regular dose of football Sunday morning. Rest of weekend was mostly uneventful.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Weekend Update

As usual, things happen that you like and some that you don't. But all in all, last weekend was pretty satisfying. As usual, football was at the center of giving me pleasure! This Sunday, 14 ppl had turned up for the game. Which meant a 7 aside non-stop 1.5 hours worth of amazing, wonderful and tiring game. The regular ground was in pathetic state because of rains, so had gone to Abhiman society to play. The ambience of the society was more than enough to excite us to play harder!

Following the game was my mentor, my boss, my manager, my senior friend, et. al., Raghu's, house warming party. It was more of a team lunch, which was being postponed due to burgeoning workload. Raghu was the architect of his own bungalow himself. And that is the reason everyone of us were so eager to see, what he calls it as, the version 1.0 of his home. The endless discussion of interesting problems while doing so, at the lunch table only made us all more inquisitive! Man with impeccable judgment about almost everything, he chose and put every damn thing with uncanny attention.

It's difficult to pick on anything and say, 'It would have looked better that way'. But a few things about his home that I like the most are...
Rainwater harvesting: It was really amazing to learn that how much water you can harvest if you provide for it. And what doesn't strike many bungalow owners is the fact that doing so can ease so much pressure on already growing shortage of water. Just 2500 or 3000 sq.ft. of area that harvests rain water, collects enough water to fill up all of his tanks. Don't recall exact metrics right now :(

The second part that was really impressive was the placement of windows and Italian bricks (just like normal bricks, but made of glass, to allow light to pass through). There is enough light throughout the day, without blinding you. Another thing is the garage, exactly the way found in American apts (the ones you see in Hollywood movies). You must visit this home before you start building your own.

After a few rounds of the house, we sat down for lunch. The food was AMAZING! And I had eaten enough to let myself skip the dinner!!!
Here you see Raghu opening a GIANT gift from us, his team.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Sony W700i camera on test

While staring down through my balcony, I noticed that sky's exhibiting wonderful colours. I had my Sony W700i handy and thouhgt of putting it to test!
Am glad with the results. See for yourself!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Just for clarification...

I thought I should clarify this w.r.t. Nokia Care Center blues in my previous post:
They are NOT offering free service! All the shit even for whom the warranty has expired and have to shell out some money, like me!!!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Amazing Mimicry by Sonu Nugam

Until late, I used to think that Johny Lever and Sudesh Bhosle are the only top notch mimicry artists. Thanks to my chum, Amit, he pointed me to this link! Just amazing to listen how accurately can he mimic singer's voices, and not to miss those amazing expressions!

Weekend Update

After throwing shit on you, life does offer some respite. True that more often than usual, what it gives you is just a glass of water and stamp-sized tissue to clean up bucketful of shit thrown at you, but at least it does so. Enough to clean your hands and help yourself.

After recovering from bad health, though not completely, I could lead my normal life (read play football and roam about freely!). Last to last week, after recuperating a little, I thought I should go to my HQ, a visit I had kept pushing off for more than a month now. As soon as I reached home, we all (read family) headed for Mahabaleshwar, referred to as haven for people troubled by unnervingly tight work schedules and adulterated environment. Though not virgin, it still is beautiful. Thank GOD the crowd was low (the way we all like it) we could roam around freely without worrying about traffic. The first day it was pouring like there's no tomorrow. The other day while we were returing, rain had taken declared time out. Though we have been there several times, I still find it's beauty very mesmerizing. The wind at Sydney Point was so strong that one couldn't stand still to click the snap!!!

Amazing Waterfall on the way...

Fog and only Fog....

More Fog...

Amazing interplay of clouds and sun rays casting shadow on the mountains...

Then last week I was back on the field..... yes FOOTBALL!
It was our last match of the TMKM inter-IT tournament, against Cognizant. The fight was tough. We lost 1-3. What was reassuring, though, was the fact the quality of our game was far better. As a team, we were playing much better than we had in previous tournaments. The one goal that we scored was just worth watching! As magnificent was the goal, so was the pass! One team failed to turn up, so the refrees asked if we were interested in playing against the lone team. WHY NOT!!! We had another game, only this time it was FAR more satisfying and enjoyble! They way I walk now shows I had over played last Sunday :-)

The day I returned from HQ, my mobile phone died :-( 'Contact Service' were her last words. And she kept repeating it every time I switched her on. Time had come to do the most dreaded: Go to Nokia Care Center. Why? Hell, you don't know the infamously famous Nokia Care centers then!!! There's only one in the whole of Pune, it opens at 0930 hrs, you have to go at least an hour earlier, wait in the !@$#ing long queue to get the token, then wait for your turn to come, and then wait ONCE AGAIN for the technician to examine it and say what should be done. And this whole ordeal takes well over 5 hours!!! A nightmare for working professionals! Fortunately I could convince my younger bro, whose currently enjoying his vacations to do that job for me ;-) Of course, I now owe him a favour in return!
Update: Ahh... I missed out that this is NOT free service! All this shit even for whom the warranty has expired and have to shell out money, like me!!!

I was already planning to upgrade from Nokia 6610i and what I had in my mind was Sony's Walkman series. I ended up buying Sony W700i a week later. Review on that some other day. But in short, it's FAR FAR FAR better an equally spec'ed and priced Nokia phone.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I'm sick!

Thank GOD, only in literal sense. Not in the sense of 'A Sick Moron!' That explains another break in posts. And also those lousy statuses on messenger. Lot of things have happened meanwhile! None of them encouraging enough:-(

Football, as you can guess, will be amongst the first I'll talk about...
2 weeks back, at TMKM inter-IT tournament, it was match against PSPL, the bunch (please excuse me) of morons!!! Well, not all, but a major of them! We drew 0-0 against those bunch of arrogant beasts. They played well, pretty damn well, but only if the game was to be termed as American Football, which it wasn't! Referee awarded us foul kicks every 5 mins on an average! They kicked players and not the football, they hit one of the players so hard, that he puked on the field! Yeeks! Can you imagine playing against such morons :-( Anyway, with lack of full strength, we managed
to just draw. Last week we played against was Wipro. I was so out of health, I couldn't even manage to be amongst the audience. We started with 8 players and reached 11 only until very late. They thrashed us 4-0 in the first half itself. And the score remained there for rest of the game.

I caught cold, rather, let me put this way, common cold got hold of me 2 weeks back. Trying to test my immunity (a big mistake as I would realize a day after), I thought I would take it. The very next day I was out of action, bed-ridden for most of the day. After a day's worth of dose, that my family doc prescribed, I felt confident and energetic. Having a big time itch of getting something done, I went to office on Saturday, hoping to cut on the backlog. Was right only about clearing backlog, for, this week, the cold came back & with vengeance!!! And hit really hard on me. Yesterday I couldn't take it any longer and had to leave office immediately to see my doc. Even while I tried to breath harder, forget about sneezing or clearing nasal tract, the result would be electrifying shocks through my head. Anyone having had severe common cold can imagine, withouth doubt, what I'm talking about.

With no sun for 3 weeks straight, constant rains, everything around wet and soaked in water, !@#$ing bad roads, maddening traffic, bad health for more than 2 weeks now, & last but not the least deprived of football has driven me crazy. But once a while, not very often, everyone should fall a little ill, because it helps drive right into your brain the fact: Health is Wealth. Though not completely relevant here, I'm tempted to quote something Sri Sri Ravishankar said, very aptly:
We spend half of our Health to earn the Wealth,
And then, we spend half of that wealth to earn back our Health!

That, sadly enough, is the typical western culture we Asians (esp. Indians) are picking up, all this while the rest of world, including Americans, are dying to catch on some of ours! Wherever the centuries old Oriental wisdom disappeared :-(

In the heat frenzied of activities, I did manage to finish off Bill Bryson's The Short History of Nearly Everything (TSHNE), watch Pirates of Caribbean-2 (POC-2), read through Arthur Hailey's Overload and maybe something more.

To keep it short, TSHNE, is an amazing book. Bill has done enough research and digested everything for us in a very concise form, TSHNE. He touches on almost everything, from birth of universe through birth of Earth, through the birth of humans and everything in between. How universe works, how our body works, Newtonian mechanics to Quantum, Geology, Astronomy, DNA, and only GOD knows what not. And oh, did I forget to mention GTR, General Theory of Relativity & the petty fights, differences, arrogances that existed (and still exists) in the scientific world that only hampers its and our growth, my personal favourites! It's difficult to be interested in ALL of above at once, but the book is really worth your time for the breadth of knowledge it exposes you to. And some very interesting anecdotes.

As to POC-2, it doesn't make the impact of POC-1, and find it only to be a teaser to the final (and hopefully) concluding part, POC-3. But what the movie is worth watching for is, as usual, Johnny Depp & movie's mind-blowing special effects. The movie sets & locations are just out of the world, very well suited to the movie theme. Well, of course, not as enchanting as After the Sunset!

Will talk about Overload later! Meanwhile, grab a copy of TSHNE, and a DVD of POC-2!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

In a lighter vein

Warning: All the characters presented in this post are NOT fictional. It bears all resemblance it can to any and every person living or dead, even unborn! ;-)

Me, in my good old sunny days, on my way to Mumbai with my buddies!
When, outing was not just going to off the corner katta for lunch. And fresh air was the one only found after 2-3 hours of trekking on some hilltop.

After a few months of 12 hrs per day grueling-n-grinding work...
When having relaxation was a good enough reason to smile, despite being confined to a 10x10 cubicle, only source of light was glowing yellow lights on the ceiling & breathing the so called GOD damned conditioned air (i.e. AC air).

And this is what becomes of you after gulping down 5 cups of tea, endlessly debugging-writing-reading-n-fixing code, taking ToT (Transfer of Technology), all you dream of is while (1) loops, bit operations, short-circuit evaluations, meeting deadlines, data types, and above all crossing that red line of 12 hours of staring at apparently meaningless bytes on your monitor and ruthlessly assaulting the keyboard...

Concept : myself
Photography : Arun
Costume(???) : myself

Well, this pretty much explains my silence for quiet some time, despite so much to share, like Nevis' momentous victory of 4-0 at inter-IT TMKM tournament against UGS, sad loss or 2-0 against Patni, etc. etc.

So, to everyone's relief, I'm not abducted neither have I gone underground after the disastrous 11/7 blasts in Mumbai (don't let your imagination run too wild, the only connection I had with it was with my innocent fellow citizens who lost their precious lives). But I'm pretty much here & alive (only in different dimension, maybe, ever hear of parallel universes?) kicking a$$ harder than ever ;-)

Cheers! Am trying to enjoy every bit of life, no matter how hard it is!!! For every night is followed by a day, BRIGHT sunny day!
Err... I already missed a meeting today morning, I got to leave now before I'm caught taking a break, catch you later....

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Head over Heels

Until recent, my dream car was (err.. still is) Honda Accord. And no other car (let me specify in my country, India) has caught my fancy. But that's about to change...

Curvaceous, sexy and just unbetable by any other car in its league (don't compare it with Toyota Camry, it falls in the league of Accord), she really got me head over heels! Cheaper than Accord and costlier than Honda City, I think Civic will definitely reach new heights of engineering excellence.

It wasn't until I researched about it a little that I place it side-by-side to an Accord now!!!
At the heart is 1.8L SOHC i-VTEC engine delivering the performance (torque) of a 2L engine with fuel efficiency of a 1.5L engine. iVTEC is featured only in higher end Honda City models. But is the only option in Civic.

Wonderful gear shifting ensures minimum movement while changing gears, giving that 'racer-car' feeling. With Tilt & Telescopic Steering Wheel, dashboard loaded with multi-function display, gives you a feeling you are in a plane's cockpit, aptly termed as 'Advanced cockpit design' And I missed the F1-style paddle shift option. Shift lever to S option and you can now control the gear changes with paddles at the back of the steering wheel (see the 2 vertical arrows), just like F1!!! Ain't it cool!

Just above the steering you get an unprecedented amount of information. Integrated Design Instrument Panel ensures you have all controls at your finger tips.

Got to see this interactive Flash demo to understand the gravity of her beauty: http://www.honda.co.uk/civic/

You put this engineering marvels together, rotate the magic wand and Woosh! There you get a Honda Civic!!!

Finally got a motivation to work even harder!!!
Note: Honda paid me no money in producing this post. This post doesn't do justice to Civic she deserves. I'll keep updating this. Come back to read more!