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Showing posts from 2009

Avatar in Coimbatore

It has been a while since the last blog. What better way to revive it than write about the visit to see the movie Avatar, that too, of all places Coimbatore.

We were in Coimbatore for the long weekend. We had wanted to see Avatar in 3D since its release on Dec 18th. We did not get a chance to catch it in Bangalore - tickets being sold out for weekend shows being one of the reasons!

We got a Sunday afternoon free after some social visits and decided to drive down to Kanakadhara theatre (part of Central Theatre complex). We were in a Kerala registration Honday City (by brother-in-law's). There were 6 of us - 4 crammed into the back seat.

Our car made laborious way through the people exiting the earlier show.

Parking Attendant: "Entha padam?" (Which movie?)
Us: Avatar
Parking Attendant: "Ticket erukkutha?" (Do you have tickets?)
Us: No
Parking Attendant: "House Full - 30thu vare" (It is house full till 30th).
Us: Can we take a U-turn to return?

We made th…

Eats, shoots and leaves

I recently re-heard this joke about the panda during a presentation on the importance of punctuation in my company.

Just in case you are not familiar, it is about this panda, who can talk, who goes to the restaurant, has food, fires a few shots in the air and leaves without paying. On being questioned, it throws a WWF manual at him. It has this section about the panda - among other things, "eats, shoots and leaves".

Imagine my surprise when I found a book by the same title in our company library! I decided to take a chance with this book, especially since my colleague, Srini endorsed it.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves is an interesting book by Lynne Truss, a British writer, who is popular for her BBC programs . The author laments the incorrect, if not abuse of punctuations. The book traces the origin of various punctuations and talks about the ways to use them. It also highlights the nuances of use in American English vs British English. I, for one, learnt the difference …

Angels and Demons

I usually read the book before seeing movies based on the book. Angels and Demons was different. I happened to see this movie with my brother-in-law a few weeks back. The movie is based on the novel by Dan Brown. I had read Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, as well as seen the movie. The movie was a pale imitation of the book.

The movie was quite confusing, especially since the print was not great. It was more interesting than the movie "The Da Vinci Code" though. This meant, the book must be even better.

It has been ages since I last read a book - it was "The White Tiger" by Aravind Adiga. Though I have been reading, "The Pragmatic Programmer - from Journeyman to Master", since it is an e-book, I have not completed it yet.

When a cousin of mine, dropped in last Sunday, we hit Crossword, Indira Nagar 12th Main. Though the shop advertised, sale and discount, I was kind of disappointed with their choices. Imagine my surprise when I saw no visible c…

Income Tax Retrurns e-filing

One of the best things to happen in the area of Indian taxation is e-tax and e-filing.

I have been e-filing my tax returns for the last 3-4 years. Until last year, the Acknowlegement (ITR-V) needed to be submitted in person (or by proxy) to the IT Department. This has been simplified this year - just send the ITR-V by Ordinary Post in A-4 envelope (so as not to fold the ITR-V). Within a week, an email acknowledgement of receipt of ITR-V is received from IT Department.

There are multiple portal/websites advertising for IT e-filing. Beware these sites charge you to file your returns. The official Income Tax e-filing is free.
Assuming you are a salaried employee with no other source of income, all you need handy is your PAN card number and the Form 16 from your employer.
Visit the above linkRegister as new user (if you do not have an account yet).
Download the appropriate ITR form - in the above case, ITR-1 is what you need. You would need to download the Excel utility.There is also …

My dad and K R Market

We had arranged for bhagavathiseva at home this evening. This puja needs a lot of flowers. What better place to get it than K R Market.

Off we set off at 6.20 AM by car. The 13 km journey was covered in 20 min, the only speed reducers being the road humps. Finding a parking was a challenge, preceded by the small stretch where we had to manoeuvre the car through a motley crowd of sellers and buyers.

We had been to KR Market's "flower market" the last time we did this puja, a year or two back. It was nice to be back here. My dad, who lives in Cochin, never ceases to be amazed by the sheer volume of various flowers available here. It was not a question of what to buy, but what not to buy. Flowers of all kinds were being sold by weight. Not easy to get anything less than half a kilogram.

We explored the market and picked up flowers from various vendors. Language was a bit of a problem, since I don't speak good Kannada. I could understand the price quoted thoug…

BSNL broadband and DNS servers

My BSNL broadband adventures seem never ending. Last Friday evening, I tried to connect to internet through BSNL broadband at home. The modem flashed the right colors and the modem web console showed everything was A-OK.

But nslookup to any hostname (yahoo, google, gmail) failed with a timeout.

I looked at my modem configuration and got the DNS IP addresses. I could ping to them. I tried to query them and either got time-out or "query rejected"

I waited till Saturday morning. No change in status.

I called up 1504, the customer service number in Bangalore. After the usual wait and retries, got connected to a service personnel. He asked me to do the usual - restart modem, check various entries. I interjected when I had the chance, to tell him that the DNS servers were down.

He asked me for the DNS server entries and when I told him, said no, they were incorrect. He gave me two other IP (which differed from mine in the last digit). I asked how it changed from the morning,…

Upgrading to Fedora 11 from behind the proxy

Fedora 11 was released on June 9 and it was time to upgrade the linux PC at work. This PC had started with Fedora Core 6 (as the installation was called at that time) and I had kept upgrading it, each time Redhat released a newer version. I had written about one such upgrade.

I did not have an install CD, nor did I want to go that way. I wanted to upgrade using yum if that was possible. The official page had this tentative instructions. It appeared that things may not be so rosy.

This and this suggested it was better to go the "preupgrade" way. Earlier preupgrades did not work since the new OS did not show up in the list of OS available for upgrades.

I did the following as instructed.

yum -y update
yum clean all
yum install preupgrade

I switched to run level 3, as one of the instructions said and ran

preupgrade-cli

To my joy, it listed Fedora 11 (Leonidas). So the next step was

preupgrade-cli "Fedora 11 (Leonidas)"

After downloading about 2GB worth of updat…

Yammer

We use Yammer as a collaboration tool at work.

From wikipedia,Like Twitter, it allows users to post updates of their activities, follow others' updates, tag content, and create memes. Unlike Twitter, Yammer focuses on businesses, and only individuals with the same email domain can join a given network

It works faster and better than emails and less annoying too! Try it out!

My Top 5 Firefox Plugins

There is no point in using the vanilla Firefox. It is most effective when we use the right plugins. I have found the following to be most useful.

Adblock Plus - plug-in which blocks annoying ads from websites
NoScript - plug-in which blocks scripts by default and which can be configured to selectively run scripts where appropriate
Webmail Notifier - plug-in which notifies you of new mails in your yahoo, gmail or hotmail mailbox
IE Tab - plug-in which opens page in embedded Internet Explorer inside Firefox. Very useful for IE-specific sites, like my office intranet
PDF Download - plug-in which allows PDF files to be downloaded rather than displayed in the browser

I do use a few other plug-ins (Web Developer, FireBug, All-In-One Sidebar, DownloadHelper), but these are specific to the type of usage you have - if you are a developer, or you want to download videos, and the like.

The Great Dictator

As I was channel surfing this afternoon, I came upon The Great Dictator playing in World Movies TV channel. It is one of my all-time favorites - not just because it is a Charlie comedy, but also, for the way the movie tries to convey the message of peace and harmony.

The movie was released in 1940, during World War II. It is a spoof on Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, the dictators responsible for the war. Chaplin plays a double role - of Hitler and the Hitler-look-a-like barber.

The movie is enjoyable. Do not miss a chance to see it

Non-playing captain

My cousin calls me early this week when I am in a meeting at work.

"Raghu, do you recall our discussions about nine years back on the need for Indian cricket team to have a non-playing captain?"

"I do. I wrote about it as well."

"We were discussing this and I told that this is not a new theory, but something we discussed long back. Do you have this write-up?"

Fortunately, I had this available and here it is...

Maybe it is not so relevant now, but seems amusing to read in light of the debacle of Knight Riders!

BSNL shifting woes

I had a BSNL landline from Jan 2001. When broadband became popular, I became a BSNL broadband user as well. The bandwidth was good, the downtime was few and there were hardly any complaints - in fact, probably once or twice, which were addressed through calls to 1500, the Call Center number.

So, when I shifted my residence, it was only logical that I shift my existing phone connection, rather than go for a new one. My dad had shifted his BSNL connections in Cochin and it had happened in a day. This should be easy, I thought.

I shifted my residence on Friday, the 13th March 2009. On Saturday, 14th March, I went to BSNL Indira Nagar office to apply for the shift. I saw shamianas put up before the office, with schemes and offers to attract new customers.

"Shifting? Go inside to the other side, Sir" I got inside.

"Second saturday, Sir. We don't work. Come between 10 to 5 on working days".

Fair enough.

On Monday, 16th March 2009, at 10 AM, I was in 3rd floor R…

Election Day Bangalore

Thursday, 23 April 2009 was declared a statutory holiday to enable people to exercise their franchise. As it turns out, Bangalore had an average polling of about 50%. This means, for every person who voted, there was one who did not.

I had voted in the Assembly Elections and was keen to vote in this as well. What constituency did I belong to? It took me some effort to figure this out. The obvious place to find this would have been the Karnataka Election Commission website. But either I didn't know what to look for, or the site was poorly organized. I couldn't figure out my constituency. However, thanks to Jaagore, I gathered that I belonged to Bangalore Central Constituency.

I knew my polling booth, it being a few metres from my apartment. I reached there at 10.30 AM in the morning. I already knew my "Part Number and Serial Number", needing this information for my EPIC (the topic for another post). I still approached the supporters of parties, sitting with t…

Blogging from BIAL

I have 90 minutes to go for my flight. I see that BIAL (Bangalore International Airport Limited) has free wireless internet. All we need to do is SMS to a number and get a password. I say, that's cool.

So what do I right about? I am travelling to US, for the first time via the Pacific. I have always flown Lufthansa earlier, which meant, the Europe route, with the stopover at Frankfurt. This time it is Cathay Pacific with a stopover at Hongkong.

I like Lufthansa since the stopover time is less - 3-4 hours. This one is going to be a pain - 5 hours onwards and about 18 hours on return! Perhaps I'll get to see Hongkong?

The hardest part about the trip is for the body to adjust to the timezone change. The stopovers doesn't help since you really don't know what you should be doing - to sleep, or eat, or brush teeth or so on.

I plan to read Code Book during this trip. I have read this a while back and want to read it again and appreciate!

Hello

No, I am not reviewing a movie with this title. Nor am I politely addressing you.

I am actually disgusted these days whenever I make a phone call.

I dial the number. The phone rings. "Hello", comes the voice from the other end.
How in the world am I to figure out whom I am talking to?

If you dial a landline number, you could be talking to any one who picks the call. If it is a home number, it could be any of the family members. If it is office, any one there as well. Even if you dial a specific office extension or a direct line, it is not guaranteed that you know whom you are speaking to by just hearing "Hello".

If the caller recognises me (from the caller id, assuming I am calling from my personal phone), and says "Hello Raghu", it still may not help, unless I recognise the voice.

What I am trying to drive home here is, in India, hardly any one announces himself when he picks the phone. "Hello, this is Raghu", or "Hello, Raj here", an…