Showing posts from 2015

The Shiva Trilogy

I ended up reading The Scion of Ikshwaku, based on the Ramayana characters by Amish Tripathi before reading the Shiva Trilogy by the same author.   The Scion is the first of a series of books, depicting the life and times of Rama.  The plot varies in many places from the mythology, with the author taking liberties as he deems fit.  So, you will find Ravana to be a shrewd fighter, who defeated Dasharatha, as well as tried to participate in Sita's swayamvar.   You will find a different theory for why Rama had to spend 14 years in exile.

Anyway, the Scion also makes reference to Vayuputhra and Meluha and I was curious about them.

Thus, I ended up reading the Shiva Trilogy, in turn...

The Immortals of Meluha
The Secret of the Nagas
The Oath of the Vayuputhras

The books starts with Shiva migrating from his home in Kailas to Kashmir, along with his entourage. He is soon identified as the person that the world has waiting for - to save human race from troubles.
He is taken to meet Daksha, …

The Maze Runner - the books

I decided to read the Maze Runner series of books after having watched the first movie of the series The Maze Runner, a few weeks back.

The movie was interesting, about a guy, Thomas, who lands up without memory in a mass of land surrounded by walls in the form of a maze.  There are a ground of boys who have come/landed before him and they have survived - farming, cooking and making a living.  The boy is soon followed by a girl - the first girl in the group of about forty boys.  Each day, a group of runners go around the maze, trying to map it so that they can find a way out.  Each evening, the doors of the maze close - no one has survived a night in the maze.

The rest of the story is about Thomas, trying to figure out his past, as well as figure out an escape from the maze, along with the rest of the group.

There are four books in the series

The Maze Runner, the first bookThe Scorch Trials (recently released as a movie)The Death Cure
and the prequel,

The Maze Runner - The Kill Order

Migrating to Windows 10 and Cortana

Windows 10 was released on 29th July and I decided to upgrade my Office laptop to make sure that it was safe for others to do so!   I wanted to do it from my home since I would have the 50 Mbps all to myself!

Upgrade steps were quite straightforward.
Since I had "reserve" a Windows 10 update a few weeks back, I just had to click on that icon in the system tray.  It asked me if I wanted to upgrade right away or do it later (implying it would be downloaded in the background).  I recklessly chose the "right now" option.
The system restarted (the way it does for update install).  Then it displayed a message saying it was "downloading" the files.  
I had not bothered to check the size of the download to get an idea of how long it would take.  It was 6.45 AM and I would need to leave home by 9 AM.  Since it was work laptop, I did not have the luxury of leaving it behind as it installed.   These thoughts came up only after the files had started downloading.
To …

Paperless IT returns and refund

It was that time of the year to file IT returns.

I have filed returns on my own ever since I was required to do.  Ever since e-filing was available, I had chosen the option.

In the past, it was required to send ITR-V, the Verification Form that is generated on filing the returns by post.   From this year, that requirement has been dispensed with, in favour of e-Verification of the Returns.   This is done by sending a code to the mobile number of the tax payee.  IT department has provided three ways this can be done.

If income less than 5 lakhs, the code can be sent to

registered email/phone number of E-filing website.
If greater than 5 lakhs, user can choose two options:

through Netbanking of the Bank they Bank withusing the mobile number registered for Aadhaar
I chose the last option - yet another advantage of having an aadhaar card.

Also, I used the Excel option instead of Java like last year.

What I liked about the method was how it has been done taking into account the compliance …

The dubious debit

It looks like my love-hate relationship with SBI continues this financial year as well.

It started when I noticed a debit in my Savings account when I was checking the balance online.

Hmm!  what did that mean?  The description looked like a cryptic crossword clue.

I raised a service request online saying I wanted to know what that was.

The request was closed the next day saying it was Locker charges.

I have a locker in SBI, but the locker charges had been debited at the start of the financial year (April 1st week).   Why another debit?

On a Saturday, I went over to the Branch.  I had to take a token and wait half an hour for my turn, before meeting the lady in the counter.

"Locker charges", said she.

I tried to tell her that it was already debited once.

"Locker charges has been revised.  This is the recovery of the additional charges"

"When was the locker charges revised?  I did not get any intimation.  How can you do a debit without intimation?"


Passport renewal experience - take 2

It was more than three years back since I last had anything to do with the passport office.  I had then written about passport sewa woes,  passport application experiences and finally getting the passports.

My passport was due to expire end of 2015.  Sometime in April, I logged into Passport portal.  I had forgotten the password, but was allowed to reset after correctly answering the secret question.

I filled the passport renewal application online and saved it, deciding to submit it later.  I kind of forgot about it, till I got a reminder email a couple of days back.  It said "Your application will be automatically deleted by the system, since there is no activity".

So, I decided to pay the fee and schedule an appointment.  I chose SBI Netbanking to pay online.   The payment went off fine with a screen saying, "You will taken back in 10 seconds or click on a link".  I clicked on the link after a few seconds only to see myself in SBI's online banking screen wi…

Are you going to jail?

My four year old had persistent fever and his regular doctor was in US.   We gathered that the substitute pediatrician that we identified was available for consultation in Chinmaya Mission Hospital, fairly close to our home.

I reached the hospital in my two wheeler around 11 AM and parked my vehicle alongside a few other two wheelers.  Since I was in a hurry, I did not bother to check if it was a No Parking area - a decision also influenced by the presence of other vehicles.

It was 12.30 PM when we came out after meeting the doctor and I found a car parked in the place where I had left my vehicle.  "Hmm!  Did I park elsewhere?"  I wondered as I looked around.  A few metres from where I stood, I found a No Parking board.  I guess that applied to the place where I had parked as well (there is no point in wondering after your vehicle has been towed).  

A visitor entering the hospital saw me looking around and said "Looking for your vehicle? It has been towed to Jeevan Bhi…

Migrating to sonarqube gradle plugin

Sonarqube recently released a gradle sonarqube plugin.  This replaces the sonar runner plugin provided by gradle.

Migrating to the new plugin is fairly straightforward and involves the following changes:
Replace apply plugin: "sonar-runner"


apply plugin: "org.sonarqube"

or using the style of the new plugin mechanism (gradle 2.1 and above)

plugins {
  id "org.sonarqube" version "1.0"
Replace sonarRunner {
    sonarProperties {


sonarqube {
    properties {
Move global sonarqube properties to - either in ~/.gradle or in your project base directory.  Use systemProp prefix to indicate system property

#if  authentication enabled

As per documentation,…

Eclipse Mars and gradle support

Eclipse 4.5 a k a Mars was released yesterday (24 June 2015) on schedule.  Among other features is the first-class support for gradle (hitherto available through gradle integration for eclipse).

Gradle support in Mars is through Buildship Eclipse Plug-in, which can be installed through Eclipse Marketplace.

Once installed, an existing gradle project can be imported by using the Import... option of Eclipse

Choose an existing gradle project.  I chose a recent android project created using Android Studio.  Note however that this plugin has nothing to do with android and does not add support for android projects built using Android Studio/Gradle.

Navigate the wizard

I chose the default - the options are self-explanatory

There is this warning based on the version of gradle used.  It appears that the plugin works best with the latest version of gradle.

Once imported, the following views show up.  One being Gradle Tasks, that allow you to see tasks available and run.

On running, you see the …

X-men - the movies

I was not exposed to the X-men characters of Marvel when young - I was more a Phantom and Mandrake fan, besides the desi Amar Chitra Kathas.  So, though various X-men films came and went, I was not particularly fascinated by them.
Until Star World decided to run the complete X-men film series a few weeks back.  They had the movies shown in sequence from the first one - X-men to the last - X-men : Days of Future Past.  
I guess the lack of better TV programs possibly led me to watch the channel long enough to start enjoying it.  And what better company than my nearly four year old, who didn't want me to switch channels after he watched it for a while!  By no yardstick is X-men a program for small children, but then it is fascinating to attempt to understand their interests once in a while!
There are seven movies so far in the series in the following order: X-MenX2X-Men: The Last StandX-Men Origins: WolverineX-Men: First ClassThe WolverineX-men : Days of Future Past X-men is all abo…

Binge-watching on long weekend

It was the long weekend (courtesy May day) and I had the TV all to myself.  It was time for some binge-watching!
There were three programs of interest in Star World that was getting recorded daily in my Tatasky DVR - Monk, White Collar and Mentalist.  Hmm!  let me correct - three became four, when White Collar gave place to Castle. What with the daily IPL dose, there was quite a backlog to clear!  
The first in queue for binge-watching was Monk.  I had about 8 episodes to watch (Season 7) - each running about 45 minutes (without ads).   Monk is a lovable detective with his eccentricities.  The way he goes about solving homicides is a delight to watch.  Monk has a past - his wife was killed in a car bomb blast, leading to his depression and consequent parting from SFPD.  Thanks to his assistant, who keeps tabs on him, Monk is able to help SFPD solve various kinds of homicides.
One advantage of recorded program vs actual binge telecast is you can skip the ads in the former and thereby …

Premium tatkal experience

We had a need to travel to Ernakulam from Bangalore at short notice.  It was a week day, so buses were a possibility, but the first preference was train.
There were a number of trains that evening, but not unexpectedly no tickets in General and Tatkal quota.  Then my attention was drawn to the radio button Premium Tatkal.  I had never availed of this facility and I checked if any of the trains that I was interested in had this.  Luckily for me, the Kochuveli train leaving at 5 PM that evening had it.  There were 100-odd seats in Sleeper and about 22 seats in 3rd A/c in this quota!    
I chose this option and tried to see what the price was. It just displayed the regular tatkal rates and said the final charges will be "dynamic"!   And it was, when the ticket was finally booked - the Rs.435/- ticket costing about Rs.600/-     It still beat travelling by bus and we could reach our destination peacefully.
A relative of mine (who had also availed of the same facility) asked how …

Five wrong things to do with version control systems

Here are five wrong things that you can do with a version control system.
1.  Not use a version control system Not using one, obviously.  The whole idea of a version control system is to allow you to do your work without worrying out backing up working code or figuring out when something stopped working.  2. Not check-in each change individually When you use a version control system, it is a good idea to check-in each change and not bunch together changes. This allows you to revert specific changes if they do not work, as well as leaves a history of changes which are easy to understand. 3. Check in generated (compiled) code Not a good idea to check-in compiled code like java classes or jar/war files.  Or for that matter IDE-sepcific files like .classpath, .settings, .project, etc.  The latter usually contain machine-specific entries like "E:\lib\mail.jar".   Does that mean each develop have his/her own copy of IDE settings?  Yes, unless the settings have no machine-specific…

Mahabharata Secret - Book Review

As I had mentioned while writing about Chanakya's Chant, we are now seeing a number of books based on Indian mythological/historical character.
Mahabharata Secret is by Christopher C Doyle, an India author.  It is based on the premise that during Mahabharata War, there happened to be weapons of mass destruction (ah, that woke you up didn't it?).  The blueprint for building these, as well as prototypes (maybe working ones?) were well-concealed and never known to exist. 
Until a courtier of Emperor Asoka happened to stumble upon it,  Asoka realized it was too dangerous for the world to know and decided to remove all evidence of it.  This included erasing Vimana Parva, the chapter in the epic that referred to it, from all known existing copies of the epic.  Asoka then founded "The Brotherhood of the Nine Unknown Men" - the only nine people on earth who knew about the secret (nah, not your G-9).  Each of the nine knew part of the secret and only by combining information…

Chanakya's Chant - Book Review

There is a recent trend of books which are inspired by mythological or historical characters.  The last time I browsed a book shop - I could see books based on Draupadi, Mahabharatha, Parasurama, Shiva - to name a few.  What is common in all these books is a modern-day story based on either the character or the premise of the mythology.
Now, Chanakya is not a mythological character, but a historical one.  He is renowned as one of the wisest persons of ancient India, who was responsible for uniting India under Changraputa Maurya.
Ashwin Sanghi has written Chanakya's Chant, a fictitious novel that traces Chanakya's life. Running in parallel with Chanakya's story is the story of "modern day" Chanakya - Gangadhar Sharma.   The book describes how Chanakya brings about unification of India under Chandragupta.   In the modern India, Gangadhar Sharma has a single-point agenda - make his protege, Chandni, the Prime Minister of India.
Neither Chankya nor Gangadhar play by…

End of Google Code

I received an email this morning (at 6.38 am IST specifically) with the subject Google Code shutting down.  It had a link to the google announcement in their open source blog with the title Bidding farewell to google code.

I have a pet project which I started in google code (in Sep 2010) and hence I received the email.

The pet project was a way for me to explore spring framework and java persistence api.  I then also learnt how to use freemarker and add tiles support.  I also explored using different build mechanisms - from maven to gradle and buildr.

I chose mercurial as the SCM when I started the project - since it offered me a chance to learn distributed version control system (having been only familiar with centralized version control systems like cvs, svn, perforce, prior to it).

The reason for the shutdown is understandable - github and bitbucket have pretty much become the de facto repository for projects - both open source as well as commercial.   Google has not tried to kee…

Mightier than the Sword - Clifton Chronicles - Book 5 - Review

Having read the previous books of Clifton Chronicles, I was eagerly awaiting the "last one".  As it turns out, Jeffrey Archer has decided to make this a 7-book series instead of 5.  Could it be just coincidence that the hero of this book is also "Harry",  like another popular 7-book series?

So, Mightier than the Sword chronicles the life and time of Harry and his family from 1964 to 1970.  This book starts where the previous one, Be Careful What You Wish For ends - the explosion during the maiden voyage of Buckingham, the first passenger ship of Barrington Shipping, caused by IRA.

Of course, nothing can happen to our protagonists since the book cannot continue otherwise.

Harry is now a popular writer of Detective Warwick series.  He takes up the cause of a Russian author, imprisoned for writing a book on Stalin.

Emma is facing a libel suit by Virginia Fenwick for their exchange of words during a shareholder meeting of Barrington Shipping.

Emma's brother Giles…

India's Daughter

The first time I got to know about this was from one of the innumerable TV news channels.   BBC had interviewed one of the guy who had gang-raped a woman in Delhi in 2012 as part of its documentary film called India's Daughter.

I am not sure if it is usual for jailed convicts to give interviews (especially when they are not actors, politicians or religious activists).   Anyway, I can't recall any such interviews.

Also, can I walk in to a jail and request interview with a convict there?  Perhaps I need to prove that I am a journalist?  Should I be affiliated with a popular newspaper, magazine or TV channel?   It is evident that the interview was authorized by Government officials (the same Government that has banned the airing of the program).

Who would have watched the program when it aired, that too, in BBC?  I doubt if the channel comes in most homes and even if so, who would watch such programs.  I doubt if BBC would have done promotions to increase viewership.

So, why did…

Switching to Tatasky make my pack

The last two years, I had chosen the Mega South HD annual pack of Tatasky paying Rs.6,900/- per annum (that works out to Rs.575/- per month).   This pretty much gave me every single channel that Tatasky broadcast (including Active channels).  It also provided me 12 free Showcase movies (one per month).

I had chosen this for several reasons:

save the trouble of paying each monthprotect myself from price hikes, if anyreceive any new channels as they become availablenot pay separate "HD access fee" (Rs.125/- per month or equivalent annual) Now, why did I need to choose this "pack" over other available ones?   The answer to that lies in the way Tatasky "packages" its "packs".  Let us check each pack and see what I miss.  These are the current "Truchoice" packs and their rates/contents as I write this. South special  (Rs.190/- per month) - no Sports, no English movies, no English entertainmentSouth Sports special (Rs.220/- per month) - South…

Quality of software engineers - the other side of the story

We lament the quality of the software engineers that  pass out each year from the Colleges.  The quantity is ever-increasing with the quality being inversely proportional.
The other day, in my conversation with the senior staff (Principal, Director, Heads of Department,  others) of a popular College/University in Tamil Nadu, where I had been invited for a discussion, I gathered "the other side of the story".
It seems last year about one lakh engineering seats are vacant - just in Tamil Nadu.  There are now Engineering Colleges in every town. Students no longer need to travel to a different town or stay in hostels to do engineering. They can do in their own town.
From last year, Tamil Nadu Government also did away with Entrance Test for engineering/medical admissions.  This means, the only criteria for admission is the marks in 12th Std.  I was told, there were more students with 200/200 looking for specific Medical College seats than the number of seats - so much so that ot…

Five tips for IT students

A few days back, I was invited for a discussion in a College/University as part of their program to orient their engineering students towards industry.  The students were specifically from Computer Science, IT and MCA programs - what is called IT stream.

I was given a fifteen-minute slot for a presentation and decided on five slides - three minutes for each.  And this was what I presented.
Do what you love; love what you do Preferably choose what you want to study (or generally do), because you like/love it. Do not choose it for reasons like -

IT jobs are glamorousit is easy to get an IT jobmy friends are all doing ITI want to go to US and I can only do from an IT companymy parents want me to do IT,(for boys), I get higher dowry if I do IT
... and so on.

Now that you are already in IT stream (whether out of love or otherwise), better start loving it now.  There is only so much justice you can do to anything if you don't love what you are doing.

For any one that I meet who complai…

Humshakals - look-a-likes

Yes, I watched this Hindi movie - Humshakals - one of the worst movies I have watched in my life.  Since I spent about three hours doing it, the least I thought I could do is spend a few minutes writing about it for posterity!
I had recorded it a while back, so I was saved the misery of viewing the plentiful advertisements that pop-up every fifteen minutes or less (as well as the songs). But then, chances are, the ads may have been better entertainment.  (My kid, for sure, digs ads - especially if it is car ads - take the recent BMW i8 one, for instance).
The director is Sajid Khan, who is notorious for mindless movies like Housefull, Housefull 2, etc. So you may ask, what better can you expect from him?  But imagine, you have Saif Ali Khan, the Nawab of Patauli, no less, "acting" (if you may call that) in the movie.  As are Ritesh Deshmukh, the popular TV actor, Ram Kapoor as well as Bipasha Basu, Tamanna and Isha Gupta.
So we have the successful business man Saif, whose p…

End of TestFlight

I know, TestFlight is now part of Apple and you can do beta testing on 1000 devices with TestFlight.  But these are what I miss about testflight.

Testflight API - the API is what helped continuous integration of iOS project - from check-in to build to deploy for test.  Not only did the TestFlight api helped in uploading the app to TestFlight, it also notified relevant testers, based on the configuration.

Testflight sign-up/sign in - it was very simple.  Just open the recruitment url from Safari on the apple device, follow the instructions and you were set.

Post Apple acquisition, things are different now.  There are now "internal testers" and "beta testers".  Internal testers need to have iTunes Connect account.   I believe you now need to have TestFlight iOS app on your phone.

I saw this feedback for the TestFlight iOS app...

You cannot add testers who already have iConnect accounts, builds only last for 30 days (so if you need to compare against and old build-t…

Cordova iOS app and OS reboot on first-time install

It had all the elements of a Mr.Monk episode, barring the killing, of course!

There was this cordova android app, which we had "ported" to iOS, for a customer.  cordova build went off fine, we could sign the app with adhoc provisioning profile and the app launched fine on iPhone.

Now, cordova apps are universal (they typically run on all devices).  On our iPad mini, we saw a strange thing - the app installed fine (from Testflight).  We clicked on the app icon and then we saw a blank screen followed by the apple logo - indicating an OS restart.

What could be wrong?  For good measure, we tried on another iPad - and saw the same result - the first time clicking of app icon resulted in a reboot of iPad.

What about subsequent times?  The app worked with no errors.

No other problems with the app either.

What was special about iPads vs iPhones?  We couldn't figure out anything.

We tried the same from the simulator (for iPad). The app worked fine.  Strange, indeed!

So, we conne…