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If only I could apparate!

Let’s face it, I hate Harry Potter. But the past 24 hour of zombie like travelling has made me yearn for a concept found only in the world of Harry Potter, and that is the concept of apparation. (In other news, I finally found out how Scott Adams gets his weird ideas.) Let me give a summary of the last 24 hours. I'm currently at Frankfurt airport, and I'm sure that this blog post will not be published until I reach home; but I'm writing it anyway, so that the flavour is not diluted by the happiness of being at home. Travelling is tedious. I woke up at around 07:00 EST, reached the bus stop in Ithaca at around 09:15. The bus arrived shortly after, but some 6 idiots passengers forgot to give the driver their tickets. This meant that the driver counted the tickets three times over, in his painfully slow 60s-something grandpa style, after which he declared that he would not move the bus until the tickets had been submitted. Result: bus supposed to start off at 09:40 started of…

Fall 2012: A semester in review

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was a a semester of foolishness, it was a semester of wisdom; of incredulity, of belief; of light and of darkness; of hope and of despair. Here's a review of what happened in the last 4 months. I moved to the US of A.I started a PhD at Cornell University.I lost a friend to cancer. He was 22.I made many new friends.I'm convinced that +Nishant Totla is the singularly most annoying person in the world.Apple sucks.The Settlers of Catan rocks.I entered a complicated relationship with a commitment of at least 4 years, if I'm lucky; 7 if I'm not.I found an advisor. He has a certificate of excellence in his office, "for successfully intimidating the most students of the ECE batch of '05."I started work on a project towards my PhD.Two people I know were involved in near fatal car accidents, one on the east coast, and one on the west. Just means that we've got to be really careful, as drivers here just are…

Large Screens? Not For Me!

Thinking that I've lost it? No, you read that title right, I'm making a case for small screens (albeit many of them). I've recently been given a 27 inch iMac by my advisor. This does nothing to change my feelings, I still think that Macs suck, and that they are one of the most gimped excuses for a computer. But that's for another post. Right now, I'll be making a case against big displays, and that holds for any computer, not just Macs. The argument starts off with Fitt's Law. This is a law which relates the time taken to point at a target using a pointing device like a mouse, and relates the time to the log of the distance to the target divided by the width of the target. For convenience, I've listed the law, in mathematical form below. Basically, all that it says is rather obvious. If you're trying to point at a tiny target located a mile away, you're screwed. But that's what happens with every large display. Note that I'm talking about …

On Coffee and Other Stuff

One of the prerequisites of grad school is that you need to drink a lot of coffee.Not because you like it, but because you have to.Coffee is just wonderful. It's about the only addictive substance that you're allowed to consume legally; heck, you can even drive with a BCC (blood caffeine count) of 101. In fact, the DMV advises you to drink coffee to prevent sleeping at the wheel. Surprising, considering that caffeine is more addictive than marijuana[cite].Caffeine has been known to inhibit repair of cellular DNA, and cause a lot of harm to general health of the user. In large doses (more than 250 mg), it can severely interfere with the central nervous system, just like any other drug. Why then do grad students live on coffee?Well, mainly, it's to stay awake. It's not unusual to have 3 homework deadlines on the same day, and this calls for all nighters just to get the damn homework finished. Also, some folks like dear KK have an "all-nighter schedule" just bef…

Pride and Prejudice, a Review

So, I've been reading "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen, as part of some light bed-time reading to maintain my sanity. I thought it would be nice to share my views on the book with the world (not that anyone cares).I shared a link to the book on Facebook, and on Google+, a link to the efforts of Google to preserve an ancient trove of knowledge and pleasure. Google has been systematically been scanning books from public libraries, in the public domain, and has made them available for the world. However, the first comment I received on my Facebook post was: Now why would you want to read something as horrible and banal as Jane Austen?A bit harsh, but not unrelated to my views. Of course, I will not be foolish enough to denounce Jane Austen just based on one book; but let me review the book, and try to explain what I liked, and what seemed trite.Let me start with the title itself. "Pride and Prejudice" can be applied at many levels. Primarily, it may refer to t…

Just some random thoughts to fill up my blog

I'll be honest, I've run out of ideas. When I started the blog, ideas just flowed out like water from a tap. I could write a post every week, sometimes even more frequently. Now, I need to rack my brains, and I still cannot think of anything. The flow of ideas has dried up. Dry like Bombay's water supply.Another change has come over me. I've begun to think that I don't have enough time to write. I don't even have enough time to pursue any hobby, to read, or to do any of the tasks I'd assigned myself. And I've joined Cornell (Screw you Nishant, I've gotten into an Ivy League university (Though I've nothing to do with the Ivy League)).In related news, I think that Nishant is an ass. Nothing personal, it's just the way he is. Barely a day in Berkeley, and he blogs that he's there, and about how he got a Macbook Air from his advisor. Here, I'm trying so damn hard that I don't get a Macbook Air, or any other Mac, except the one that s…

Autohell and CMake

Time for another software related post. People familiar with the GNU/Unix system would know that the standard way to install about any GNU software from code is to run the following commands configuremakesudo make install These commands are from the GNU autotools environment. Knowing the GNU environment, these tools are what I used to compile most of the (relatively small) pieces of code I wrote. Until I discovered CMake. CMake, or Cross-platform Make is a tool that serves the same functionality as the GNU autotools (hereafter referred to as autohell). As the name suggests, CMake can be used to compile software across multiple platforms. Why am I encouraging CMake over autohell? Well, firstly, it’s not autohell! The GNU autotools are extremely useful when compiling on Linux. That’s what they are designed for. Cross compilation is extremely easy with the --host= flag. Unfortunately, when it comes to using them on Windows, the system just becomes a pain in the neck. People who have …

The Failure of Democracy

If the Godfather wanted to get elected, he probably would. –Oscar Wilde Democracy is the most successful form of government, we are told. It’s the same form which powers the governments of the West, and all the powerful nations in the world. Almost all other independent countries have democratically elected governments. Those that have not want to have democracy as a symbol of independence, supremacy of the people and a sign of progress. But let’s just hang in here for a minute. Is democracy the ultimate symbol of independence and supremacy of the people? Sure. It’s a government of the people, for the people and by the people. People elect representatives amongst themselves to represent their say in government. These representatives draw salaries, from taxes collected from the people, and go around governing those that have elected them to power. Whoa! Suddenly, democracy does not appear to be all that pro-equality. But moving on… While I would like to make this post as general as pos…

"I'm a total geek," she said

“I’m a total geek,” she said.His mind flew back. 6 years old, and his spring loaded racing car went farther than it was ever meant to. 10 years, he built his first alarm clock. 13 years, his bicycle had a digital speed readout.Yet, here he was, an ordinary looking boy wearing Levi’s; trying to be cool, and she had said, “I’m a total geek.”His eyes fell on the Mills and Boons novel tucked under her arm. He gave a shudder; never had he thought that she would call herself a geek.“You’re the geekiest girl I know.”

Let's uphold the glorious Indian culture and values

Seriously, let's do it. After all, upholding the Indian culture and values involves going to bars, shutting them down, and attacking patrons with hockey sticks. If there are girls, of course they are there for the sole purpose of soliciting.The great Indian culture does not allow us to go to bars and nightclubs. Drink whiskey, vodka, gin? No way! That's not allowed in the Indian culture. We drink सोमरस, not these poisons. As anyone would tell you, सोम is a synonym for अमृत, the potion which grants immortality, not immorality.And what's with these lovebirds coochy-cooing on Valentine's day, or in "dark, isolated places"? Public display of affection is strictly prohibited in the Indian culture. राधेकृष्ण! Are they in their teens? Children should study, not spend time with girlfriends. We have the highly successful system of arranged marriages in India, you just marry someone. No place for girlfriends or lovers. Sorry!While we are at it, what's with the boys…

I drag race everyday

My hands get sweaty with excitement, my heart is pounding with anticipation. Any moment now.
I can see the countdown: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4...
I put my car in gear.
3, 2...
Engine revs to 6000 RPM.
1, 0
HONK!!!
And I missed it. The traffic light turned green, but I did not declutch in time. I was late by a microsecond, but the motorists behind me did not fail to inform me of the same.
Has this happened with you? Sometimes, it makes me wonder. We are so patient when it comes to parliamentary proceedings. I mean, we are still debating over bills that were proposed in the 1950s, but we cannot wait even a millisecond when driving. Time is money, you know. In a poor country like ours, we have no money, so let us not waste any more time.Someone much older (though I doubt much wiser) once complained that the younger generation was always in a "tearing hurry", which is why they never bothered to follow rules, weaved in and out of traffic, did not stop at traffic lights, never waited …

Internet Policing in India

Yes, it has happened. While we were so busy fighting PIPA, SOPA and all other acts that threatened freedom on the internet, we ignored the events brewing in our own backyard. It is with great sorrow that I write about the sad state of freedom in India.Yes, we are free. Yes, the constitution declares that we are sovereign. The people are sovereign. The representatives of the people are sovereign. Consequently, the parliamentarians are sovereign. Hence, they are in a position to bring about draconian acts that curb freedom of speech, acts which benefit them and them only, acts which make it illegal for you or me to criticise the government; yet, we must bow down and accept meekly, cause the parliament is sovereign, and anyone questioning the sovereignty of the parliament is a traitor and anti-national.I've always found India to be a strange place, and the series "It happens only in India" on this weblog, under which the current post too is filed, is a collection of things …

The Failure of Capitalism

Warning: This post is meant for a rational audience who likes to wrestle with controversial points of view. If you are not amongst the rational category, please stop reading immediately. The author is not responsible for any results/consequences of reading this blog.
The free market economy is touted as perhaps the best thing that happened to mankind since the invention of the wheel. The market is the place where we trade, where we can exchange goods and services for those which we cannot produce or are outside our skill sets. Money is just a way to facilitate trade, and is not an actual commodity. Or is it? Apparently, we can put a price on money.But it's not just about money. The free market is said to offer us ultimate choice; a scenario where the consumer is king; the ultimate in stable equilibria; and an invisible hand that always promotes the good of mankind.However, capitalism, like other systems is an idealistic model, and the systems which we have in place are a poor appro…

The Failure of...

Hey there,
I know that I've been inactive for a long while. There's a reason. I've been too busy with my other blog, The FOSS Photographer and my end-semester exams. With all this, I've ignored my baby too long. Not any more.This post is to inform you that I've been toying with a certain idea for future posts. I've decided to come up with a new series, aptly titled, "The Failure of...". Just to warn the audience, this series will be meant only for a rational audience who likes to wrestle with controversial points of view (YAY!). I'll just analyse points of failure in many popular systems in the world. (This blog is spared. Though it has been a failure in general, it's not popular, hence will not be the subject of scrutiny in future posts.)Stay tuned. The fingers have gotten rusted from not typing on the blog (55 page long reports do not count). Where is that WD-40?

Facebook: Are we missing the "point"?

2300: Log in to Facebook.Go through postsGo through even more posts.Block that annoying "True meaning of your name" app.Check out that interesting post on 9GagHey, it's 0100, I'd better log out.I'm a dork for wasting two hours on this shitty thing. Ever happened to you? You end up spending hours on Facebook, and still end up dis-satisfied? Happens every time with me. I wonder why I still login...If the movie is to be believed, most people head over to Facebook just to see the relationship status of that special someone. Not so much of a concern for me. I'm voted most likely to be single for life. I mainly log in to Facebook to catch up on what people are doing; in other words, to stalk people.People are all awesome. They post the best parts of their lives online, leaving the not-so-interesting parts out. Have a look at any profile picture. If it is a real picture of someone, it will be a face radiant with happiness and joy. Check out pictures of people hanging…

I just lost 13 billion dollars

Yes, you read that right. I lost 13 billion dollars. Want to know why?I don't care about your answer, I'm going to tell you anyway. Here's how Verizon and AT&T stole 13 billion dollars from me.You see, I used to offer services to users of the Lover's Telephone. I still do. Anyone who employs my services for the Lover's Telephone has to pay me $5 for every minute of calling. Eh, what's that? You think that is too much? Really? Do you have any idea about the amount of effort it takes to set up lines to you house? Not only do I have to get a wire to your house, I also need to set up a switchboard operator, who has to be extremely skilled at doing and undoing knots.The operator takes around $1 a minute. That along with the cost of delivering a wire means that I make a measly profit of only around $3 a minute of call. But then, there are an estimated 5 million lovers in the world. They talk for, on an average, 90 minutes a day. Okay, of the 5 million, around 100…

Paranoid!

I'm paranoid!Seriously, is there no privacy in this world? My phone tracks me every time. Google knows where I go, where I stay; it has the audacity to point out that I spend most of my time in the middle of Powai Lake, and that I spend less than an hour a week on average at work. It knows that I spend almost all my time on 9gag.com, it knows that I keep searching for funny videos every minute.And all this information is going to big brother. I'm scared of even thinking anything wrong, because I've heard that Google has built a satellite named NOTHEU972 which measures the psychokinetic energy of the world, and can hence read out thoughts, similar to Peter Answers. I've also heard that the CIA pays huge amounts of money to Google to get access to the data collected by NOTHEU972.I dare not put any pictures on Facebook, as hackers are out there to take my pictures, morph them onto some objectionable content, and post them on objectionable sites. I dare not crack jokes on …

The Continuity of Parks

So, I've been busy making a short film based on Julio Cortázar's short story, "The Continuity of Parks". Take some time to watch the movie.Let me know what you think of the movie. The story by Cortázar can be found here.

Flying the good times

The newspapers are full of news about Kingfisher Airlines, the "King of good times" not being in such a good time right now. Makes me wonder, does Kingfisher not have enough money to even pay it's PR team? Apparently, Kingfisher has not paid its employees for the past two months, and has instead offered them a Rs. 5000 stipend to get on with basic needs.Makes me feel lucky to have been delayed by just one day when I flew from Chandigarh to Bombay last week. This post will just be a blow by blow account of the two days.Well, I had a flight scheduled to leave Chandigarh on Sunday, at around 1530 in the afternoon. The flight got delayed to 1730, then to 2030. When we reached the airport, we were told that the flight was cancelled because Chandigarh Airport is an IAF base, and night time civilian ops are prohibited. WOW! So, you expect me to believe that you were not aware of this when you rescheduled the flight to 2030? Well, apparently, the flight had some "technical …

All Hail The Idiots!

All hail the idiots, for it is the idiots who run the world.Confused? Let me explain...People are idiotic. They yammer and yell, and yet do nothing, but run the world. The ones who do the actual work are often silent spectators, fed up of the idiots that rule them.Calling my readers "idiots" does not make for healthy relationships, so I'll refrain from doing so. But I'm fed up of the idiots that dictate how I live my life.The idiots pay $ 20 for a movie they cannot copy on their computer, because the DVD is encrypted. The idiots are willing to pay $ 1000 for a software that does the same work they could do for free. The idiots keep the big corporations alive, which then dictate how we live our lives.Yet, it is by the action of the idiots that our world, as we know it, can continue. Think of it... how different would life be, where everyone could make their own movies and share them with the world. If anyone wanted to do anything, (s)he could do it him/herself. No cal…

A petition to ban "3 Idiots"

Mr. Prime Minister,
I'm writing this letter to express the extreme anguish inflicted upon me by the movie "3 Idiots". The movie has hurt my religious sentiments and those of many others. I would request that you ban the said movie immediately.The movie caricatures a certain college of engineering. It criticizes the education system in the country. In doing so, it has hurt the sentiments of millions of pedagogicians over the world, and in India. If you are not aware, pedagogism is a flourishing religion in India, which worships any form of education.Moreover, the movie pokes fun of Rastogi because he believes in the power of rings. This, Mr. Prime Minister hurts the feelings of the followers of millions of "Baba"s, not necessarily political. It also hurts the religious feelings of the Tolkeinians in India, who venerate the rings and search for the One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.The movie…

It's Republic Day!

The Republic of India has given us a lot to cherish. The constitution gives us freedom of speech, expression, assembly, freedom to move and settle in any part of India, and rights to equality, life and religion.I am grateful to be born in a country where democratic rule has prevailed.I may speak my mind out and not be afraid of being charged with blasphemy.Our country does not censor the internet.Our country has over two thousand ethnic groups with people belonging to almost every major religion, living peacefully in a society with traditions over five thousand years old.Our country has pioneered the Non Aligned Movement.Our country gives us a safe home, a place where we may stay and work without fear.Our country has prevailed.Republic Day is the day that we should be glad of being Indian. Let the national flag fly high all over the country. Let us make a vow to protect and preserve our motherland.A happy Republic Day to all.

Aakash?

This was the subject of an email I received from someone I know. The message asked for my review of the Aakash tablet, a low cost tablet which the Indian government in promoting. I replied with a verdict: uninspiring.My reasons were thus: The processor was pathetic; I cannot expect an ARM running at 366 MHz to provide any reliable computing. My mobile phone runs Android 2.3, and has a 600 MHz processor. Yet, I find it sluggish. To compound the problem is just 256 MB of RAM. I really cannot expect any performance from this tablet. Pathetic configuration is the first thing that ruins a computing experience.Further, the tablet has no 3G or GPRS, only WiFi (This is set to change in the next release of the tablet, with a better processor and Android 2.3 and GPRS connectivity, but still, I really cannot understand the point of including WiFi over 3G. After all, how many people who are the target audience of the government possess access to WiFi. If they did, why would they buy Aakash over a…

Die Facebook Trolls

\begin{rant}Sometimes, I wonder about the trolls that exist in the world. Earlier, this species would be found forwarding email which was grossly incorrect, or just plain stupid. The categories of these emails used to be one of the below
A picture/s of cats or some similar irrelevant objectEmail humour, jokes, comicsSome grossly incorrect story/information about a public figure, public project or some god-damn thing in public lifeEmails with a forward this or Jesus will disembowel you messageEmails with a picture of a dying child with a promise to donate 3 cents for every forward of the email.... (build this list further)I used to wonder, "Can anyone be as dumb as to fall in for such stuff?" This was almost always followed with a sigh and a don't they have anything better to do in their lives kind of thought.Recently, these emails have stopped, thank god! But wait! Such trolls have taken to Facebook now.It starts with invitation to Mafia Wars, Crazy Taxi, Farmville, Shitv…

Speculative currency trading

Ever since I started understanding the little economics that I do know, I wondered whether it was possible to make money using currency (to be precise, speculative trading in currency). Currency changers have long been making money trading in currency, using different rates for buying and selling.No, this post is about making money in the time dimension: Is it possible to make money by utilizing the fluctuations in the exchange rates? Ideally, the answer would be that it is impractical, that better returns shall be obtained with other investments. However, the roller coaster ride of the rupee vs the dollar has got me thinking about this again.The rupee was at around 45 rupees to the dollar until at least August or September 2011. Now it is at around 53 rupees to the dollar as I write this article in January 2012. Which means that in a span of around 4-5 months, the rupee has been devalued by around 7 rupees to the dollar. Let us assume that I purchased a lot of dollars in August, say …