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Showing posts from 2008

Ban on blogging

Who can say when a blogging idea comes? To me, it usually comes waiting in the Bangalore traffic jams, en route office. You want to blog it when it is fresh in mind. Unfortunately, my company does not think so. Blogging is banned at work and this means, by the time I am home, the idea has become stale.

The other day, as I was leaving to office, I saw the ubiquitous sight of the difficulty faced by a prospective passenger getting an auto rikshaw. As for the jaywalking in Marathahalli signal and surrounding areas, you see an accident in the making every day. The recent tarring of the service roads from Marathahalli leading upto my office is a welcome sight. But not so, the sight of heavy vehicles randomly parked on the sides of the road. Shouldn't there be a rule about company providing parking space to vehicles which ferry their employees to work every day? What ban on smoking in office ("public places") does to the productivity of smoking employees.

Well, the…

BigBelly in news

BigBelly conjures up images of a paunchy man, with, what else a "big belly". I got to know a few months back that it also refers to a solar powered trash can.

We did a small software project for them, and I'll let the google links give the details.

Pilgrimage - Phase 1

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Tue, 16 Sep 2008.

We were in Bangalore Cantonment Railway Station at 6.30 PM, well ahead of the arrival time of Mysore-Mayiladuthurai train. This was the train route (courtesy, erail.in, which, by the same, is an awesome site for train information in India).

The train was late (so what's new), and after taking off from Cantonment, spent nearly half an hour in Byappanahalli Station as well! We had packed our dinner and once consumed, hit the sack.

Wed, 17 Sep 2008.

The train must have picked up speed for 5.45 AM found us at Kumbakonam Railway Station. We checked into Hotel Raya's (Annexe 1). The Standard A/c room was so large as to accomodate 2 extra beds, which meant all the four of us could be together.

Breakfast was at the nearby hotel. We had arranged for a car to take us around. The driver Chandramouli (Mouli Taxis) was well informed of the place.

Kumbakonam is a temple town. The plan was to cover a subset of navagraha temples, plus additional temples in the route (or as ti…

The 3 mistakes of my life

Well! just 3? I am not sure. I have not counted.

No, it is not about my life. I got around to reading this new novel by Chetan Bhagat. Hmm! At the time of writing this, this book is not available in Amazon.

The book is similar in style to the author's earlier books - simple, fast-paced and light on the brain!

The setting is Gujarat around 2000-2003. The story has in it, all of India's national pastimes - cricket, religion and politics. What more can you ask for?

There are three friends. The protagonist is a maths wiz kid and a businessman at heart. One of his friend is from the family of temple priests and the third, a cricket-player-turned-coach. The priest friend's mama adds the political connection. There is the sister of the other friend, who adds the romantic part. The extraordinarily talented child prodigy, Ali completes the story with the cricket and religious element.

And what are the three mistakes? That is better read than described. Suffice to say, t…

Onam festivities

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Being in Kerala for Onam is a wonderful experience. Since I relocated to Bangalore I have missed Onam festivities. This time I decided I will not let it happen. Though I couldn't make it for Onam itself, I decided to visit a few days prior to it.

Train was the preferred transport. I missed out on the greenery of the route as I had taken the train which reached Ernakulam by 4.30 AM.

It was Friday, 5th Sep 2008. Monsoon had not yet left the State. There was occasional showers, which became torrential rain a few times. Unlike Bangalore though, the effect
of the rain wears off in no time.

People in Kerala, especially ladies always carry umbrellas - whatever the weather be. As my wife's grandfather remarked, it serves unique purposes - for instance, it shields your clothes from water splashing from the puddles on the road, when vehicles drive by!

I was looking forward to savouring palada pradhaman - the traditional Kerala delicacy. I found that this was now being sold like l…

Dinner at Spagetti Kitchen

A college friend of ours had turned up from US. We decided to gettogether over dinner. The place chosen was Spagetti Kitchen in Lido Mall. Another friend had read "The Hindu" review of the place and found it rated high.

We were in Lido Mall complex around 6.30. The hotel was to open only at 7 PM, but the security at the entrance took our booking for 7.30 PM - a table for 4.

We wandered around the Mall, until 7.40 PM, when we entered the restaurant. I told a waiter that we had a booking and you would want to strike that off the list. He did not appear to understand. The waiter waved us to a bunch of 4 seaters and we took one.

The first thing which stuck was smoke. We realised this was a "smoking" room. We asked, if there was a non-smoking section and were told, there was none.

We wanted to move to a different table, but were told they were "reserved"!

Well! the waiter came over - with no pen or pad or anything. We ordered soups and starter. The waite…

Dragon Fire

The recent events in Tibet brought to my mind, memories of a book I had bought and read 8 years back. "Dragon Fire" by Humphrey Hawksley was published in 2000.

It was interested to read it again. The author is a BBC correspondent. The book is a futuristic work, that talked about events which would occur in 2007.

The novel starts with a Tibetan political prison being freed in a daring unauthorised operation by a Tibetan Special Force trained by Indian Army. In Pakistan, an Army General takes over the country in a bloodless coup. Infiltrators from Pakistan, shoot down a helicopter carrying Indian Foreign Minister. These events spark off a war in the region. The novel describes the progress of the war, and the climax is not pleasant reading for Indians!

The book is based on the premise that both India and China are trying to become regional superpowers of Asia. Pakistan is considered a rogue state. US and UK want to side with India, it being a democratic country in con…

The Modern Epic - Part II

A few days back I had written about the challenges of getting EPIC - the voter id card.

Subsequently, Election Commission allowed users to vote even without this card, so long as voters could produce an alternate card - like Drivers License, PAN card, Passport, etc.

On Saturday, 10th May, we had the Assembly Elections in Bangalore. While I'd my EPIC, my wife took her PAN card. Armed with these, we went to our polling both, a Government Primary School, walking distance from my apartment. It was 9 AM.

Various parties had set up their "booths" close to the polling booth. Here, they identified the "Section/Part" in the electoral roll, where the voter's name was located, noted it in a sheet. This sheet had to be given in the polling booth (so that there was no crowd in the polling booth to locate your name)!

The fun part started here. I had the EPIC. The challenge was to find my name in the list. All the available lists with the party workers were in Kannada,…

Womens Reservation Bill

It was not amusing to read about the drama associated with the introduction of Womens Reservation Bill in Parliament on Tue, 6th May. Yes, not amusing. The media reports were all about the strategy adopted by the Government, of sandwiching the concerned minister between various lady MPs, so that the bill could be successfully introduced.

Has the Parliament become a joke that Government has to resort to such strategies to move a Bill? And to add to it, the media finds it commendable rather than condemnable?

The very purpose of the Bill - to have reservation for Women in legislatures is debatable. If all parties were genuinely concerned about this, what is the need for reservation at all? They could easily ensure that 1/3 of the seats they contested were reserved for Women. If all parties did that, chances are that there will be more women MPs in Parliament than ever before.

The current issue which is causing opposition to the Bill is the absence of "quota" within the &qu…

The modern EPIC

Evidently, I am not talking about The Ramayana or the Mahabharatha. Nor the epics of other cultures like the Iliad. By EPIC, I am referring to Electors' Photo Identity Card.

With elections in Bangalore around the corner, all the talk is about this EPIC. I was fortunate to get my EPIC a few years back. Me and wife had applied for entry in the electoral rolls together. For some reason (we decided not to press for a CBI enquiry), my entry was present in the rolls and not my wife's. So I got my EPIC.

This time around, her name figured in the electoral rolls. Now, how does one get one's EPIC? Newspapers wrote about this being issued in designated places (typically government schools) - each day at a different place. Since the last time EPICs had been issued was 2-3 years back, these centers witnessed huge queues as also technical glitches. We realised it would take half-a-day of standing in the queue and a large amount of luck to get the EPIC.

The same newspapers wrote about…

Bangalore Airport Experience

Bangalore HAL Airport. 29th April 2008. 10.30 PM

I had to pick up my wife, who was scheduled to arrive by the 10.10 PM flight. She had given me a missed call around 9 PM, indicating flight was ready for take off.

I was before the Bangalore One office close to the Arrival. Having been to the Airport several times before, I knew Parking inside was a nightmare. So, the strategy was to wait till I got a call and then drive in and pick my wife up. I had done this successfully before.

I saw a pile up on the Airport Arrival Road leaving to the Arrival Terminal. Vehicles were queued up right from Airport Road. The right turn into the Airport Arrival Road had been closed - this keeps getting closed and open according to the whims and fancies of the concerned folks!

I hung around on the side of the Airport Road awaiting the missed call, which was not forthcoming. So, I decided to park my car on the roadside and walk up to the Arrival Terminal. This was about 5 min.

I saw the queued up vehicles…

Race the movie

By a curious turn of events, I ended up seeing the Hindi movie "Race" twice. There must be reviews dime a dozen for this movie - this one being one of them. As the reviewer rightly says, too many twists spoil this movie. There are spoilers below and you can skip the rest of this, if you haven't seen the movie and want to enjoy the suspense!

So, the movie is all about the fight between the half-brothers, Saif and Akshaye. Looking back at it, right from the time, he survives a car accident, Saif knows Akshaye is up to no good. So why not settle it then and there, like how he did it for the jockey? That would have reduced the film's run time to 15 minutes! And what role would Bipasha and Katrina have, much less Anil Kapoor and Sameera?

Apparently, it is easy to get the insurance money (especially in case of accident) in South Africa. There is no need for a death certificate. In fact, in case of brothers, if the second one also dies in an accident, the time …

Upgrading Fedora

I am a linux fan. Of the various linux flavours, I have always used Fedora (and before that Redhat).

I had a chance to set up linux on a spare system at work. It had been more than a year since I needed to do a fresh linux install. I saw that Fedora 8 was the latest version. When I had last installed, it was Fedora Core 6.

I had FC6 CDs - 5 of them. Rather than downloading Fedora 8 or looking for a shop to purchase the same, I thought why not try to install FC6 and upgrade.

I found this site which talked about doing it using yum. Armed with this information, I went ahead and installed FC6.

FC6 install was a breeze (since I had done this a couple of times including in my home PC).

Now came the upgrading part. As the site mentioned, I decided on the two step migration strategy - FC6 to Fedora 7 and Fedora 7 to Fedora 8.

After doing yum update and installing all updates on FC6, I updated fedora-release and fedora-release notes rpm to Fedora 7's.

I did not have the disk label issue since…

A Thousand Splendid Suns

I finished reading Khaled Hosseini's "A Thousand Splendid Suns" yesterday. The writer is popular for his first book "The Kite Runner", which has been recently made into a movie by the same name.

Like The Kite Runner, the story of A Thousand Splendid Suns is also based in Afghanistan - the period from 1980s to the present.The story traces the life of two women - Mariam and Laila - their trials and tribulations as the country also undergoes changes.

More than the story, the book gives insights into Afghanistan as it was in 80s to what it is today. The author does not take any sides, but depicts things as it is - men having multiple wifes, the purdah system, women education, life under various rulers.

One cannot help but get moved by the plight of ladies in the country as seen through the lives of the protagonists.

This novel lacks the originality and the impact of The Kite Runner. But it is still a worthy read.

A note of caution: this is not for the faint hearted.

Railway Budget 2008

I would have liked to see two things in the Indian Railway budget presented two days back (26 Feb 2008).

One is a reduction in the service charge for e-ticket. Currently there is a service charge of Rs.15/- to Rs.25/- for every e-ticket booked. If you look at the cost for Railways on account of this, it is zero. With the increasing use of e-tickets, Railways is getting extra money on the ticket for nothing.

In many countries, online booking is cheaper than counter booking. This is true, even with Airline tickets in India. So why this inconsistency for Railways?

Obviously, this is not "populist". It does not address any "vote bank". No one is interested in this. Hence it has been sidelined.

The other thing, I wanted to see was streamlining of Tatkal charges. Currently, you have to pay the cost for the end to end fare of the train you want to take. In addition, you have to pay Rs.75/- or Rs.150/- based on whether you are travelling during "peak season" o…

The Address Fiasco

"You have a credit card delivery", said my office security personnel. I went down to collect the card. It was from Barclays, who had enticed me with cashback, lifetime free and other interesting offers.

I examined the envelope from the Courier (Fedex) and saw that it had two addresses - my home and office. Apparently they had attempted to deliver to my home address and failing that tried the office. This isn't surprising since no one is at home during week days!

I opened the consignment and looked at the letter enclosed with the card. By accident, I looked at the address in the letter. Imagine my shock, when I saw "Hyderabad".

When applying for the card, you are required to give an address proof (I gave my telephone bill in my case). I stay in Bangalore. How would you feel when you see the address stated as Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh? The PIN had changed from 560075 to 500075!

I am worried about the Bank, which makes so many mistakes with such an important…

Sunday on Sunday

It was a Sunday afternoon. It had been a while since we went to a cinema theatre to watch a movie. The last one had been The Bourne Ultimatum in Inox.

We saw a news item on a new multiplex which had opened in Bangalore. The Fame Cinema (Fame Lido, to be precise). This was closer to our home and more importantly, accessible by public transport.

So, we caught a bus to Lido. It is a pleasure to take the public transport on a Sunday afternoon. The roads are empty, you get seats and above all, no worries on the parking!

Our movie preference was The American Gangster. But the tickets were sold out. So we ended up buying tickets to Sunday, a Hindi movie. At Rs.180/- per ticket (including Rs.50/- entertainment tax), the movie in a multiplex is indeed a very costly proposition to the common man. And to top it all, aided and abetted by the government (who takes the tax).

The movie was still an hour away and we whiled away the time, doing window shopping in the mall.

Rather than pay Rs.40/- …

Firefox plugin - ScribeFire

I came across this new Firefox plugin - "ScribeFire" today. It said a "blog editor/publisher". Why not try it out? Installed it and trying out a blog post using it.

I like Firefox and especially firefox plugins. These are the ones I have currently, in decreasing order of importance
NoScript - a superb plugin to block unwanted scripts and thus speed up page displaysAdblock plus - the ad detector/blockerFilterset.G - which works in conjunction with Adblock plusIETab - a cool plugin which allows you to toggle page display between IE and firefox. Especially useful for my intranet pages, which are IE friendlyDownload status bar - an elegant way to track downloadsPDF download - tool to prevent pdf files from opening in browserUnplug - tool to download videosGmail notifierYahoo Mail notifierDilbert - tool which displays today's dilbert (along with peanut, andy capp, etc.)In addition, I also use the Vista Aero theme.

Well! I'm editing this in ScribeFire editor - let…

Alternate endings to Veer Zaara

Last weekend I ended up watching the movie Veer Zaara which played in one of the Hindi satellite channels. Whether it was a commercial success or not, I found the plot too hard to digest. The presentation was too slow for my comfort and I have never liked 60+ singers singing for 30- heroines. My better half loves such romantic movies and thus I had no choice but to sit through, while constantly commenting about this and that.

For those who haven't seen the movie, the plot is as follows. Indian Air Force pilot (hero) meets a Pakistani girl (heroine) who is on an Indian visit and falls in love. He goes to Pakistan to ask her hand in marriage. Her alliance has been arranged with a Pakistani (villain), who promptly gets hero arrested as an Indian spy. The only way to get a release is by revealing his romance, which he doesn't - to protect her "izzat". He languishes in Pak jail. The bus in which he was returning to India (before he was arrested) has an accident an…