The world, how it works, surroundings, myself, etc.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

My First 3 Months at Google

It has been over three months since I joined Google, and pretty much the same time since I last wrote here. A lot has happened in this while professionally and personally and I just want to begin by mentioning that it has been amazing, to say the least.

Ever dreamed about a place where you are pampered with luxuries, surrounded by god-like techies, goddess-like babes, and you don't have to worry about trivial things like clothing & mmm.. food? And you know that there are only a few others like you. Open your eyes, it's Google.

Life @ Google
Disclaimer: If you hoped that I would leak out some secrets, I'll disappoint you. Everything that can be said about the company is available elsewhere on the net and for the rest, I'm not supposed to.

There wasn't really a training. Things started with fun and it lingers on. Initially, I got assigned to a project which I didn't really like. I had a small chat with my manager (who's a cool guy, btw, and works like hell) and within a few minutes, I was working on a new one, a one I did like. I stayed at the Google guest house for a fortnight while I used to keep running to and fro from IIIT as I was still trying to finish my thesis defense then (it's finished now, btw. I'm an MS. yay!).

I have a Mac laptop (Macbook Pro) to work on and it's beautiful. It's my first (significant) tryst with a Mac. Things are integrated pretty well and it they (almost always) work. I'll still rate linux above Mac, though. I definitely like some of the softwares on the Mac -- iPhoto, Photo Booth, Quick Silver. iTunes and QuickTime are pathetic, however. Besides, the mac, I have a dual-monitor linux workstation and my desk in office, just in case the laptop screen feels too small.

The speed with which things get done by at Google is intimidating, and I'm not just talking about the technical things but also about the administration, HR thingies, etc. Think about Google search and you'll have an idea of the kind of speed I'm talking about. The prime reason I joined Google was because I found Googlers to be happy. And now I'm happy too. Besides, it feels nice to know that you are being taken care of.

We have cabs for pickup and drop from office to residence daily, which is a nice thing coz this gives us some more sleeping time: in the cab, that is.

There have been a couple of parties since I joined. One was a booze party at Bottles and Chimneys and everyone soaked. It's funny to see engineers dance, especially when they are drunk. The other party was the (pre) holiday party recently, which included dance, besides food (of course).

I'll quickly run by some other things that have happened all this while.
  • Visited New Delhi for visa for Taiwan. Everything was in a terrible rush but I turned out lucky.
  • Visited Taipei City, Taiwan for presenting my paper in Pacific Graphics, based on my MS thesis work. Google sponsored the trip. Taiwan is a nice and clean place. The main railway station is as clean as IIIT. The mass rapid transit (MRT) system is nicely streamlined. I clicked a few pics with my new cam. People speak Chinese and don't understand much English. So, if you are traveling to Taiwan, be prepared to seek help (in sign language) from some lovely ladies on the streets. This trip also includes the joy of first overseas travel. Singapore airways is astounding and Singapore airport is heavenly -- they have XBOX gaming joints and movie theatres there!
  • Visited Chennai (& Mahabalipuram) for US Visa. I had been pre-warned about Chennai so I had kept my hopes to a minimum. It turns out that Chennai can be tolerated for one day (but no more). Mahabalipuram is an OK place for a few hours.
  • Leaving for the USA (for 3 months) in Jan.
  • Graduated. I'm a "Master of Science by Research (Computer Graphics)" now.
  • Bought a digicam (Panasonic DMC-LZ3 with 1G Transcend memory for ~Rs 12K)
  • Lost my drinks virginity somewhere near South-China sea
  • Visited Patna during Diwali. Patna is progressing gradually. Nitish Kumar, the new CM, is hardworking and ambitious.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Greenphone: A phone to yearn for

Finally, there exists a phone which I want. Ever since I lost my last phone (an year ago), I didn't get a new one partly because none of the ones available had features which this yet-to-be-released Greenphone has. For eternity, phone-makers have been assuming consumers to be stupid and users can't modify things on the phone lest the warranty should void.

But now Greenphone is there to change things.
For one, it runs on linux, you can reflash the bios to load a custom kernel (why? just coz I can), you can rewrite any of the apps therein without locking-horns with the supplier and create new apps using Qt library (QPE to be specific) -- essentially, a phone which I can truly and completely own.

Trolltech co-CEO Haavard Nord stated, "With Greenphone, the sky is the limit when it comes to creating and testing new applications on a powerful mobile device platform."

The phone also has a QVGA touchscreen, WiFi, bluetooth, 1.3 MP cam, mini-USB and extensible SD slots (apart from the builtin 128 MB flash and 64 MB RAM) on a 312 MHz processor.

The phone is expected to start shipping in September. The pricing hasn't been released yet but with the above features, it doesn't appear that it'll be cheap. Since the phone is first of its kind, Trolltech would do a good job of keeping the phone affordable not only to sell in large numbers but also to ensure that developers get hooked.

So excited!

Monday, August 14, 2006

11.14 Review

I saw the movie 11.14. Here's how I'd like to review it.

void* thread0(void* arg)
// do something
return arg;

void* thread1(void* arg)
// do something
return arg;
void* thread2(void* arg)
// do something
return arg;
void* thread3(void* arg)
// do something
return arg;

int main()
pthread_t thread0, thread1, thread2, thread3;
//! Create all threads
pthread_create(&thread0, NULL, thread0, NULL);
pthread_create(&thread1, NULL, thread1, NULL);
pthread_create(&thread2, NULL, thread2, NULL);
pthread_create(&thread3, NULL, thread3, NULL);

//! Join all threads
pthread_join(thread0, NULL);
pthread_join(thread1, NULL);
pthread_join(thread2, NULL);
pthread_join(thread3, NULL);

//! Print time
print gettimeofday();

11:14 PM

Saturday, August 12, 2006

CVIT gets a 7950 GX2

Cribbing about low RAM on your system? Have a look at CVIT.

CVIT today acquired a GeForce 7950 GX2 which has 1GB GDDR3 VRAM (the RAM on the video card, that is). Earlier CVIT used to get the 2nd level of graphics cards but this one is the fastest graphics card that there is, on a single PICe slot. It came for Rs 35K. The difference between this card and a "regular" one is that this actually is two graphics card PCBs coupled tightly side-by-side. Naturally, this card cannot go on just any PC (actually, there are only 2 PCs currently in CVIT which can handle this card), so a new system will be bought soon.

Looking back, I still remember the system with mere 32MB RAM that I had when I was in my 1st year.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Server Room Correction #3

We had a "knowledge transfer" session in the Server Room, as it was decided in an earlier meeting I had with Dr Bruhad. Apart from Dr Bruhad, Dr Pudi too joined in. All Server Room staff (except Mr JP) were present. To my surprise, some unrelated people were present too (Sambabu, Phani Kumar).

Routine jobs at the Server Room will get more organized. Expect basic things like backup, response-to-queries, help-page, wee-bit responsibility, etc to come up. Nothing can happen overnight. So, be patient. Sending a mail to sysadmin-(at) should be good enough to get your problem registered. If need be, Cc it to bezawada-(at) and rest assured that your problem will be looked at (you'll get a response).

If you have been following this section, you must would remember about the 3 types of jobs in the Server Room that I had talked about. 1) Routine, 2) Devel & 3) Security-related. Today's session was aimed at covering the first of this. Although I didn't have the least idea what a "knowledge transfer" session was supposed to mean, I had a list of trouble-shooting test cases prepared. (Why is it called "knowledge transfer" by the way? Wouldn't "knowledge mirroring" make more sense, given that nothing is really transferred?) Not much discussion was required on these issues. Dr Bruhad asked for setting up help-pages, FAQs etc.. all manageable stuff.

I hope the 2nd and 3rd points are tackled too.

To my surprise, discussion on wireless took up most of the time, even though none of that was planned. Nothing was concluded. I won't write anything about this since I'll end up using words which I don't like to write very often.

Personally, I have a very mixed opinion about the nature of today's meeting.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Slow Internet? Check weather

Is the internet performing a bit too sluggish? Check the weather outside. If its raining, the slow internet is due to our wireless connection to the ISP. The radio waves somehow don't do well with humidity.

Come to think of it and quite funny correlations can occur between technical performance of computers and environmental factors.
  • Internet graph can be used as a rain-gauge -- the lower the bandwidth, the stronger the downpour. (Wonder what no-internet might end up indicating.) Imagine, the newsreader citing monsoons as 3.14 Mbps!!
  • Room temperature can be predicted by the swearing-frequency of a gamer. How? Well, the hotter it is, the worse his graphics card will perform. So, the gamer will feel more irritated and swear more. With minor adjustments here and there, a mapping function can be devised.
  • A novel way to kill geeks: Bring down the internet for 3 days straight. All geeks will either die of anxiety or will commit suicide.
I'm sure there are more such correlations.

Happily denied food by OBH

I was denied dinner by the OBH caterer. But I'm pleased by the gesture. Why? Read on.

I wasn't registered to the mess. And by the time I reached the OBH mess, it was (partially) running short of food. All previous catereres would have accepted the money and allowed one to eat from whatever was left, even at the cost of running-out on regular/registered members. I always wondered, in a professional system, the caterer should be bold enough to deny food, if it foresees shortage for registered members. This is exactly what happened.

Why is professionalism good?
Professionalism has been created by the fierce competition between the 4 caterers in campus. Only those who are fit enough will do good. This also means that for any of the caterers to survive, they'll have to perform good. Professionalism helps.

Seeing the professional attitude of Hot Rottis guy, I do have a feeling that this caterer will do good and might last longer than any previous caterer.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Feel like this

A Monkey and a Bird

It was raining heavily. A monkey, dumb as he was, was shivering on a tree, while a bird was sitting merrily in its nest. Seeing the plight of the monkey, the bird offered him a suggestion -- "You look capable enough. Why don't you build a nest of your own? Then you won't have to shiver in the rains." This suggestion angered the monkey -- "How dare a tiny little bird give me advice!" He ran up to the bird and tore down its nest.

Moral of the story: Never give advice to fools.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Server Room Correction #2

After sending the long mail on Tuesday night, Paresh and I met Dr Bruhadeshwar on Wed (Aug 2) morning. The meeting lasted long and I must admit that Dr Bruhadeshwar has a lot of positive energy.

The Meeting
I have a feeling that Dr Bruhadeshwar didn't believe much in what I said, at least towards the beginning. This I feel is natural since he has taken over as a CRC head only a month ago and is not acquainted with many things. He had a printout of the list of issues which I had mailed yesterday and it had a lot of markings (even though he mustn't have gotten much time since yesterday night to this morning). He began going through them and discussing corrective action. I had listed only 10 such examples. Even though each of them were tragic blunders in themselves, I mentioned that these were only specific examples of mismanagement and that we needed more fundamental level reforms or else such a list could be practically endless and tackling them one-by-one would be impossible. He did not agree quite, or at least so I feel, towards the beginning of the meeting.

We went through a couple of the specific examples and we landed to the OBH lan problem. That's the time when he called up the server room twice regarding this issue and asked for what was happening. The immediate fallout was that OBH lan was fixed in merely 3 hours (aah.. why couldn't they fix it earlier rather than wait for a bashing for 3 weeks?).

On the issue of poor internet he blamed DC++ for choking up the bandwidth. Now, this is not true. Perhaps he had some misconceptions about the network structure. Eventually, I was able to convince him that DC++ or any such sharing over the LAN doesn't affect internet bandwidth by as much as a dot.

I reiterated that we were just going through specific examples whereas what we should instead be doing is prepare a system. These inconsistencies would just fade away. I gave the example of misconfigured DNS leading to mail-loss by several faculty members. From this point onwards, I believe, he started feeling that I was talking sense. We didn't discuss specific examples after this point.

Student Sysadminship
I have been reiterating that the server room has to have some responsible expert-level administrator, whether student or otherwise. Since such a person is missing at this point, he mentioned that the staff should be trained for it. But this takes time, even if it's possible.

He mentioned that the idea of student sysadmins abandoned because students didn't document properly what they did. Even though I'm not nearly a software engineering fan, I agree that a certain level of book-keeping is required to ensure awareness amonst the staff. However, I categorically mentioned that the level at which it'd be helpful (in the current case) would be an overkill. I don't want to start teaching how to use VIM! I mean, isn't there a documentation/manual available for these?

I do belive that by the end of the meeting, he did start seeing that I had valid points, and also that students sysadmins are required. Probably, this issue will be discussed in some faculty meeting later. Erstwhile, he suggested that there be a knowledge tranfer session (whatever that means) on next Monday where I run the staff through some routine admin know-hows.

I told about the solution which I had proposed, the three steps that needed to be taken (as per my earlier mail). He was convinced.

Personally, I was irritated not with the idea of knowlege transfer but with the term itself -- it's so SE-ic (and need I mention that I don't like SE?). But should I expect that all of a sudden someone who I didn't even recognize (and vice versa) follow me totally? Was Rome built in a day? I don't think so. So, I agreed to the knowlege transfer session to be held next Monday.

As of now, things look extremely positive. Probably, student sysadmins will get appointed. By the end of the meeting, we landed up discussing about the stuff on DC++. Now, I don't watch a lot of movies, but I'd still like to have the option. So, I responded with what a student should and he responded back with what a faculty should -- perfect ethics, although on a light note. Dr Bruhadeshwar is extremely active and I hope things shape up well. Or else, god save the system administrtion, and I'm not just exaggerating.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Server Room Correction #1

If you have been following this blog, you might have seen the sequence of posts labelled "Server Room Tragedy..". Well, things got out of hand. So some of decided to raise the issue to the higher levels. In a brief meeting with the director, we had scheduled a meeting just after the convocation. This meeting was held yesterday (Aug 1). However, since Dr Bruhadeshwar was not available then, he asked us to list out the issues and then discuss. I sent him the mail which is shown below. Since the mail is long, I'll discuss about the meeting in the next post.

From: Nirnimesh
To: bezawada[at]
Cc: sangal[at]
Subject: System Administration related issues

Dear Sir,

I'm listing out the issues which we wanted to discuss and which we feel
that need attention. Some of these are very critical and apply at the
fundamental level of system administration. I first list out specific
examples of concern. This list can practically be endless so I list out
only a few. Then I list out some general issues. In the end I list out
solutions which in my opinion would be required to solve the problems.

Specific examples:
1, Backup disks: In a CRC meeting once, it was decided that a backup
system be setup, which would backup data incrementally. 4 hard disks (2
TB in total) were approved to be purchased for the purpose. The hard
disks never got purchased. The current backup server is improper (if at
all). Checkpoint backups on to DVDs were planned but even the first
checkpoint never materialized.

2. DNS misconfiguration: Drastic server failures take place if the DNS
is misconfigured, since it forms the basis for delivering all mails,
etc. Recently, when the ISP was changed, the DNS was misconfigured
(ideally, it should be a planned transition from one set of IPs to the
other). Not only did several mails bounce, some of our servers got
classified as spammers by some prominent DNS black-lists, due to which
our mails were tagged as spam. This was reported even by some faculty
members (Dr Madhav Krishna, Dr PJN lately) when they discovered
undelivered mails. I'm sure there are more such instances which have
gone unnoticed.

3. Wireless LAN: The wireless LAN is in an abysmal state. Not only does
it go down without any warning, it works at poor speeds, sometimes even
lesser than the internet b/w! Given that the number of wlan users in
campus is now more than the wired lan ones, this issue is all the more
important. I do feel that it has been time enough that wlan become
stable and reliable rather than bearing the experimental tag forever.

4. OBH LAN: OBH LAN has been non-functional with proper settings for
more than 3 weeks now. This has been reported to the server room several
times but in vain. Some random network setting is working currently, but
it is non-optimal.

5. SPAMS: Faculty reported bombardment of spams from infected systems.
Methods to identify and block these infected systems are required apart
from proper configuration of the mail server's spam checkers.

6. Internet: The internet has been unreliable ever since the ISP was
changed, even though the b/w was increased and the internet graph shows
good throughput. I feel that no amount of b/w can circumvent the need
for proper monitoring of where the b/w really goes. My assessment is
that there are infected systems on the network which are hogging up the
b/w due to which the browsing speed has gone down. These should be
monitored, identified and treated. Besides, IIIT is dependent on a
single ISP link now, which means that mails cannot be routed through an
alternate path if this link is down.

7. Phishing: Proper monitoring of logs is are required to make sure that
our servers don't end up getting phished. The last phishing event went
unnoticed for 2 days, before I accidentally discovered it. No such
security-related logs are monitored currently.

8. Proxy crash: I had known from the proxy server logs that its hard
disk was about to crash in due course. I had informed this in the server
room and had prepared a backup system to be used. Unfortunately, this
backup system was recklessly formatted. Days later, proxy really
crashed, and it took quite some time before we set things up from scratch.

9. CDROMs in teaching labs: Whereas the systems in teaching lab #333
don't have cdrom drives even though they have hard disks, the disk-less
thin clients in the new teaching labs have cdroms each even though they
will never ever be used. For the 100 thin-client systems this adds up to
a straight misuse of Rs 1 lakh.

10. Gateway server: A gateway firewall was put in place to prevent
research server labs from getting hacked (LTRC server was hacked once
because of this reason). Besides, it also improves the internet
bandwidth. This server is missing now thereby posing security threats.

I will conclude by saying that the server room currently lacks a system.
Things happen ad hoc. I can best describe the current system as:
clueless, irresponsible and acting in damage-control mode.

General issues:

Mails: If configured properly, mail protocol is so versatile that
there's absolutely no possibility of mails getting lost or even getting
delayed. But proper configuration is required nevertheless, and slight
DNS misconfiguration can wreck havoc for all mails. Students have
started shifting to gmail. Not only is this shameful for an institute
such as ours, it causes a waste of costly internet bandwidth. (Blocking
gmail is not the solution, though. Instead, our mail servers should
function reliably enough)

ISP/Internet: IIIT should have at least two ISPs. The second one can be
low-cost, low b/w one. This is critical for 24x7 mail or internet
access. Besides, the internet traffic from the ISPs needs to be
monitored, since they often end up cheating. At the 4 Mbps b/w that IIIT
has, it is possible to have an excellent browsing and download speed, if
monitored properly to weed-out b/w-hogging infected systems.

Responsibility: Several institutes (even in India) have well-managed
system administration, along with websites as help-pages. We lack such a
thing altogether. Students and faculty often don't know how to configure
things and they don't know where to get help from. Having a web-page not
only eases things out, it ensures that the solutions can be reused for
recurring problems. This is not the case with the current server room

I see the following 3 steps as necessary to ensure a reliable,
responsible and smart system administration.

1. System

Set up a planned system along which the server room works. The staff
need to be allocated jobs and be held accountable. I see three types of
jobs to be dealt with:
a) Routine: this involves all common monitoring and related activities
like managing accounts, managing network, checking logs, backups,
grievances, etc. This works in damage-control mode currently.
b) Development: this involves developing and automating ways to make the
working of the server room more efficient. This is missing currently.
c) Security: this involves maintaining the security of the network, the
servers and privacy-related issues. This requires expert-level
understanding. This is missing currently.

2. Have Student Sysadmins

There has to be at least one expert-level administrator who understands
the system throughout and can take quick actions. IIIT students are (and
will always be) better than any of the sysadmin staff or perhaps even
more costly sysadmins. This is why the model of having student-sysadmins
was ideal for IIIT. I feel that getting rid of student sysadmins is
suicidal because it leaves the server room with no one who understands
the system. All servers till date have been configured by student
sysadmins only. The notion of the baton being passed on to the successor
student-sysadmins has been carried out effectively in the past.

3. Strict accounting mechanism overseen by a faculty (that is CRC)

A faculty's involvement is the most critical to ensuring that the server
room functions properly, instead of in a clueless damage-control mode.
This would be too much pressure on the faculty, which is where the
student sysadmins come helpful. But accounting from a faculty is
necessary to ensure that the decisions are implemented by the server
room staff.

I have in the past tried several measures with the server room staff to
streamline the activities, but in vain. My current activities are like a
last-resort effort. If corrective actions are not taken immediately, I
can foresee severe inconsistencies and problems arising in immediate future.

I hope I could be helpful.

Thank You

Respose to a "Hi"

There's no dearth of mails/scraps that one gets with the subject "hi". It gets even more painful when that's all the content that there is. And I'm left at my wits' ends trying to figure out how to respond to such mails/scraps. Though I'm not overly social, I still want to respond so that I don't sound rude. But the point is what?

My interpretation of "hi.. wassup?" is: "I don't know what to write. But still I want to write. So, here's my mark". Now, I don't know how I could respond to such a scrap. Some options I ponder over are:

1. "Listen dude/dudie, I understand that you have had nothing to do and want to see some movement on your orkut scrapbook. But I'm not nearly the correct person. Try someone else and you might actually strike a conversation out of thin air."

2. "Do you know that you can self-scrap on orkut? (Yes, really, I've tried it.) Why don't you self-scrap?"

3. "See, I hardly even remember who you are. Accepted that we might have spent a wonderful evening one day but come'on."

4. Respond back with a "hi" or "hello" or a similar monotonic salutation (essentially throwing the ball back into his/her court)

5. Give a pointer to my blog

Acts 1, 2 and 3 are overly rude. Act 4 doesn't have a purpose, other than symbiotically incrementing the scrap-count. Act 5 requires that I update my blog regularly, a condition almost never met.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I know the mole

All eyes are focussed towards Jaswant Singh as he claims of a mole in PMO ever since the 90's. The unanimous question everyone is asking is: "Who is the mole?"

Given the reputation of Jaswant Singh as a high-profile diplomat, I do expect he has something up his sleeve rather than merely embarassing the NDA. But still, it's such a simple question to answer. Who doesn't know the mole? Any self-respecting person who passed high-school without cheating would know it. Here it is:

"A mole is the amount of substance of a system which contains as many elementary entities as there are atoms in 12 grams of carbon 12, where the carbon 12 atoms are unbound, at rest and in their ground state."

Jaswant Singh is correct. He knows the mole.

To Panchgani

I was at Panchgani for the weekend. And I must say: what a weekend it was! How do you feel when wind is so strong that you almost get blown off, literally? Or what if you are thouroughly drenched and all you can see is beautiful cliffs. Or what if rain falls like needles into your face, not from top but horizontally, and sometimes even from below! That's Panchgani.

At one spot, called Table-top, we were on the top of a cliff and the rain was heavy. The weather was so foggy that visibility was limited to a few metres only. Off an on this would clear up so that we could see down the cliff. We were in the arms of nature, literally. Now, to reach the edge of the cliff was not a mean job. At least not as easy as we thought it would be. We walked and walked and walked while it poured and it poured and it poured and the wind blew and blew and blew and we shivered and shivered and shivered. The edge seemed like a mirage since it distanced itself every time. We finally made it, and it was a feat. One slip, and that would be the end of any of us. One step at the wrong place, and that would be the last step on earth! The feeling was exotic.

Near Panchgani is the place called Mahabaleshwar. Now, this place has a beautiful waterfall (actually, it has many, but all others are closed at this time of the year). Every now and then the fog would clear up so that we could see down till the brook forming out from where the water fell. The greenery was relaxing -- the mind was all cleared up, not taxing thoughts, nothing. We went till the source of the waterfall. Some of us paddled into it.

The next stop was Pratapgarh fort built by Shivaji. The severe weather rendered it interesting. The serpentine roads leading to the fort illustrated nature's face at its full glory. There were several small waterfalls along this road.

If only all weekends could be as refreshing as this.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Server Room Tragedy #9

The situation:
IIIT site has been inaccessible from outside IIIT for the last two days. Karteek Alahari mailed me from Oxford to inform this.

The tragedy:
The tragedy is not that the site is down for two days. The tragedy is that server room doesn't know that it's down.

1. You mentioned about meeting the director. What happened?
Ans: Yes, some of us met the director yesterday. We have scheduled an at meeting after the convocation (convocation time is hectic).

Sunday, July 23, 2006

My Home on Wikimapia

I am able to view my house on WikiMapia. In the iamge below, the rectangle showing "Prem-Villa" is my house. Since it is Patna, the neighbourhood is quite green yet. I always had a conviction that my house bisected the straight line joining Patna Jail with Patna Airport (both visible from my house). I was right.

Feels like I should change this post's title to: "My Home as I See It"

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Server Room Tragedy #8

The situation, the tragedies:
IIIT changes ISP. Internet deteriorates, and is unpredictable (my opinion). The transition of public IP addresses weren't carried out smoothly -- misconfiguration. The research server managed to get itself listed into a number of DNS blacklists. Mails from the research server were being bounced back or treated as spam (I tested with gmail). The DNS configuration file serial ids were unchaged, confusing the DNS caches for our IPs all over the world. I fixed some of these.

IIIT is now dependent on a single ISP. Alternate mail routing is impaired. No round-the-clock incoming mails now if this ISP is down. The internet gateway server is removed. It's firewall had been placed with the intention of protecting the webservers of several research labs since they don't have firewalls of their own.

Paresh tells me that he's unable to use spamassassin for filtering spams. Some configuration files are inaccessible. He mailed the sysadmin staff a week ago and now has given up hopes for a response.

Visesh tells me that his mails to some universities had bounced. They treated IIIT mails as spams. He has switched to gmail now.

The cookie crumbles:
Things are not right. This is not how IIIT's system administration ought to function. I have three words to describe it -- cluelessness, damange-control and irresponsibility. If student sysadmins are unnecessary, why does Mr XYZ come running to me for every silly but critical problem? I can continue "helping" but what after 1 month when I'm gone? There has to be a solution before a major disaster breaks out.

I'm going to meet the director. I've sought an appointment. Others (particularly labcoms) are welcome to join me.

1. When are you going to talk to the director?
Ans: As soon as I get the appointment.

2. What are you going to suggest to the director?
Ans: I think that the server room cannot function without a student sysadmins. Not having student sysadmins is suicidal. Repeat after me. Not having student sysadmins is suicidal.

3. Do you think you are crazy?
Ans: Yes. Do you think so too? :)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Frailty, thy name is Manmohan

"Frailty, thy name is woman," mused Shakespeare.

In the present context, Shakespeare would like to reconsider the phrase to something like the title of this post. Clearly, his Cambridge degree and Oxford doctorate could not evoke in him enough perseverance and will power. How else can the most educated prime minister in the history of India agree to life-changing decisions like 50% reservations, abandon disinvestments, office-of-profit bill, etc. All these when India's missile man is the president. Leave alone the constitution, how did the PM's conscience permit him these? As the only PM who could never make it to the Lok Sabha, is it difficult to see him as a puppet, intentionally planted to take orders from the real boss? Is India stupid? Maybe. Is the majority a fool? Definitely.

People, crowd, mass, the population just see the end-result, not the complete equation. One can blame terrorist organizations for the 7/11 Mumbai blasts. But does India have enough will power anyway to avert these? Is it impossible that the blasts were a signal from some disgruntled youths who wanted to make a point -- that no good can come from reservations? The PM may express solidarity by saluting the Mumbaikars for quick recovery from the blasts. But that's nearly not what a PM must be doing. While the intelligence tries to figure out the WHO for the blasts, the PM should think about the WHY for the blasts.

Someone would say -- "terrorists want to disunite India". What a shame! Why, in god's name, would they want to do that? What is the motivation? What'll they get? It's stupid to even think on these lines. They cannot be objective-less. They have to have a real RHS for the equation with 7/11 blasts as the LHS -- not something as placebo as "disunite" India. It just doesn't make sense. One doesn't get up one morning and start bombing just to disunite India. But if one's livelihood is snatched away -- yes. So, the real culprits are not the terrorists, but someone else, most of whom move about scott free. With ministers like these, who needs terrorists?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Friday, June 23, 2006

My first paper

My research paper titled "Scalable, Tiled Display Wall for Graphics using a Coordinated Cluster of PCs" made it as a poster paper to Pacific Graphics, 2006. The conference will be held on 11-13th October.

The paper discusses IIIT's efforts in building Tiled Display Walls using off-the-shelf inexpensive PCs. A 4x4 tiled display setup showing Fatehpur Sikri shown below.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Server Room Tragedy #7

The Situation:
If you have followed Tragedy #6, I mentioned about all students receiving over 20 mails from a virus-infected PC. Even if you didn't follow Tragedy #6, you must've noted those mails in your mailbox -- yeah, the ones where viruses write poems too.

This time, the same got repeated, with the faculty. All the faculty were greeted with not 20, but over 60 such mails.

The Tragedy:
The server room has already gotten through the situation. The nature, cause and solution is the same. Is it that difficult to learn at least from old mistakes?

1). You are reporting a tragedy after a long time. What happened?
Ans: I'm not frequenting the server room these days.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Server Room Tragedy #6

The Situation:
Today students received numerous funny mails (seemingly) from a faculty account.

4 times -   [Students] Fw:
1 times -   [Students] Fwd: Crazy illegal Sex!
2 times -   [Students] Fwd: image.jpg
5 times -   [Students] Fwd: Photo
2 times -   [[Students] Fw: Funny :)
4 times -   [Students] Fw: Sexy
2 times -   [Students] Re:
1 time -    [Students] Word file

This series went on till the evening.

The Tragedy:
Mr Someone-in-the-server-room was supposed to properly install the virus & mail scanner which had been stopped in damage-control mode yesterday. By the evening, due to some reason, the imap service too had stopped working. Obliviious of the solution, Mr Somebody rebooted the students server and left for the day (the server hadn't booted back yet). Even after the server booted back, the imap service hadn't got back.

1. Hey, but imap on 200 is working now.
Ans: Yup, I switched it on. I myself use imap.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Google's Hiring Strategy

I found this reference to Google's hiring strategy. Google relies on the Lake Wobegon Strategy, which says only hire candidates who are above the mean of your current employees. An analysis of the simulation over time, using this strategy shows how good it is (the blue line). An alternative strategy (popular in the dot-com boom period) is to justify a hire by saying "this candidate is clearly better than at least one of our current employees." -- red line. The orange line corresponds to the no hiring manager strategy, in use by Google.

Server Room Tragedy #5

The tragedy:
Mail problem: Mails getting delayed.

This tragedy hasn't finished -- it's still ongoing. One fine day, Mr Someone installed MailScanner on 200, and didn't care to make sure that everything was ok. Turns out, it wasn't. Mails started getting delayed, first minutes, then hours. Mailscanner isn't processing the mails properly and they're getting delivered only when it times-out. Mr Someone has to solve the problem, with the help of the new server room staff. In damage-control mode, he came running to me. I relayed some of the processing to another server. Mailscanner is switched off right now until he fixes the problem (I'm not going to fix it). No spam-checks, virus checks till then.

My mails were getting delayed. So I corrected some probs just so that they get delivered on time. I've informed Mr Someone what else needs to be done. The rest of the fixing (virus checks, spam checks) remains.

++Update (June 9)
MailScanner's virus and spam check probs are fixed now. Oh, that's evident isn't it. You didn't get "Fw: Photo" kind of mails in the evening.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Bihar on a devel track

It has been six months since RJD was kicked out of power in Bihar and a new governement was sworn in. Nitish Kumar is the last hope of Bihar, they say. I had been to Patna for a fortnight this month. For a man facing the task not of mismanagement but of complete absence of governance, Nitish Kumar, I feel, has been quite successful. Phrases like "development", "investment", "production", which I did not hear about Bihar ever since I gained consciousness, are being discussed and debated. Yes, it cannot happen at the flick of a switch. Yes, it takes time. Yes, it'll take time before things really start getting visible. All that's required is a will, which sparks determination in more people. The rest, as they say, is details, and will follow.

I perceived a saner general environment in Patna. I could see highways being widened, made and repaired. Several of the hooligans who used to kill time on every other nukkar were missing. A long long way to go still, before people can recall that Nalanda University, once a seat of learning in India, was in Bihar.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Server Room Tragedy #4

The Situation:
It is common knowledge that the internet had been sulking for quite some time from the start of this summer vacation. Refer the graph. Note the unduly high upload rate beginning the month of May.

The Tragedy:
Even a slug-head should realize that an upload rate of 3 Mbps is preposterous for IIIT. When I returned back from my vacation, I noted problems with the firewall configuration at the proxy server, and fixed this. The net has gotten better now.

1. You have resigned. Why did you bother?
Ans: For the simple reason that I need the internet.

2. Are you going to raise all these tragedies with the CRC, or the Director?
Ans: Yes. But not yet. Let the cookie crubmle.

Server Room Tragedy #3

The Situation:
U K Visesh goes to the Server Room to get his IP unlisted from the IP Black list. He mentions his IP to a new guy there.

The Tragedy:
The new guy ponders for a while, then shakes his head, goes to the proxy server, and types: "unblock <IP>". But it instaneously results in a command not found. The new guy, entirely oblivious of it, replies -- Yup, done.

What the hell! This guy U K Visesh is in his fifth year at IIIT, and "command not found" is what is being shown to him. Too aghast to speak any further, Visesh silently returns back.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Server Room Tragedy #2

A few months ago:
We realized that the proxy server's primary hard-disk was going bad. It was reporting errors in several sectors. We knew it would go down very soon. The Server Room staff were duly informed and we also acquired another system as a backup. This system was setup as a fallback proxy server

A few days ago:
Mr XYZ, a server room staff, reinstalls the fallback proxy server with FC5. All the configuration settings are gone

A few hours ago:
Proxy goes down. You guessed it right -- the hard disk crashed. With cries of SOS, the two new staff members rushed to us. Then started the damage control again. The proxy server won't boot. Need FC2 1st CD. And I was nuts to expect the Server Room to have one. Had to burn one (dig a well when it's fire). But it won't solve the hard disk problem -- hard disk problems can be hard, remember!

Anyways, we looked at the fallback system -- it had a brand new FC5 installed, smiling shamelessly, unconfigured. With nothing else to do, we start configuring this system. It took a lot of time before the basic services got working and the internet came back (thank god the backup server hasn't been tampered with yet).

Friday, April 21, 2006

svn recovery

What do you do when you have a submission in a few hours, and your svn starts reporting something like:

svn: Unable to open an ra_local session to URL
svn: Unable to open repository 'file:///svn/gswall/trunk/Client'
svn: Berkeley DB error while opening environment for filesystem /svn/gswall/db:
DB_RUNRECOVERY: Fatal error, run database recovery
svn: bdb: PANIC: fatal region error detected; run recovery

To make matters worse, you recollect that the last non-svn backup is a bit too old, and you start blaming yourself for keeping all the blank DVDs unused.
Well, luckily (and thank God for it) there is:

svnadmin recover /path/to/svn

This did something to the Berkeley DB, and the prob fixed. I was almost dead.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Server Room Tragedy: #1

A TA informs the Server Room about a lab exam to be conducted on Wed morning. He asks for accounts for 100 students.

Mr JP, the one who had been informed on Mon, forwarded, as is his custom, the work to one of the new staffs. He asked him to create the accounts MANUALLY. 100 accounts manually -- it took a whole day. He does it. But the TA is not informed. The TA was left to guess the system IP, the 100 user names, and the 100 passwords. Besides, the server room is clueless about the whether the teaching lab (the exam spot) is intact and working or not.

Wed: (Lab Exam day)
The TA inquires in the Server Room at 9:00. The exam was at 9:30. Only Mr Madhu is present (he wasn't there in this loop). Dr Anoop would be angry if things don't work out. Oblivious, he begins the damage-control mode, the only mode in which the Server Room ever works, whenever that is. A machine is handed over to the TA and he is asked then to create accounts, etc. Mr Madhu finds a script that was used earlier for this job, and the TA then creates the account, all accounts on the same system. Naturally, no quota, process limits, mem limits, etc were placed. The server froze several times during the exam.

Points worth nothing:
The server room, the place supposed to be the mecca of technical efficacy, creates 100 accounts manually. And the TA isn't even informed.
At the last moment, the TA is handed the server and is expected to feel at ease with it -- i.e. he is asked to manage the needful.

Expected Questions / FAQs

1. What's the hue-cry? What's your point?
Ans: Simple. The server room is not in a position to manage itself. Doing away with new student sysadmins is suicidal.

2. When do you expect the Server Room staff to get efficient?
Ans: Never

3. Why did you title this post as #1?
Ans: Things like this is just the beginning. More such exemplary activities happen every day. I'll post the next one as #2.

4. Such examples are called case-studies. I took SE, so I know.
Ans: I don't care what it is called. I took SE, but still I don't know, and happily so.

It rained and wow!

It rained yesterday evening, and wow what a rain it was -- relinquishing Hyderabad from the painful sun. If you were out at that time, you would have seen how quickly everything happened. I was. Not 5 minutes ago I was telling Visesh that if it continued thus, it was going to be a painfully hot summer, and as if God(?) was listening, he threw open the skies. Within 5 minutes, the stoic, suffocating air around was replaced with soothing, swift breeze. It was dark and powercut accompanied. At a point, we were standing in Gachibowli, waiting for auto, as it poured. We were drenched. The only light around was that from the intermittent lightning, but it was frequent.

By the time we reached the Hostel, the water accumulated in front of the OBH had made impossible the corssing without getting wetter. I think they should arrange for boats near the entrance. Oh, the times when rains meant paper-boats. I don't even remember the last time I made a paper-boat. We don't do much with paper these days anyway. Felt like dancing in the rain.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A Trip to Microsoft Campus

I just returned from a (casual/informal) trip to the Hyd M$ Campus. Thanks to Bothra for playing a wonderful host.

The look and feel was good. Excellent, in fact. Transparent glasses throughout. In the evening, you can actually see people working insde, from the side galleries. I wonder if that makes one conscious while working. I mean, sort out a couple of issues and you could be pictured all day long from satellites!

We (smr, parry, bansi & I) tried our hands at FuΒball (pronounced as fooz-ball) -- first time. FuΒball is nice. I like it. Can we have one in IIIT? They shouldn't be expensive, are they? But a lot of fun they are for sure. The game was exciting. We were on even until Parry made the winning move.

The chairs in the outside lounge appeared cute. Red petal-shaped ones, blue heart shaped ones. I expected the heart-shaped ones to be red, though.

The running water fountain in a setting of rocks outside the building was good. I like water bodies, so I was bound to like this.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Right to Disownment

Ever since birth, we have been carrying the load of the constitution of India. Heavy words like democracy, liberty, freedom, equality(??) are no more than crap-on-the-head. Just because I was born in part of the globe called India, it was assumed that I would be happy to comply with any and every law the founding fathers of the constitution chose to pen down. But this assumption is flawed. I don't want any of these heavy-weight words. Why should I pay taxes when I know that it will go to satiate the govt's whims and fancies. There should, therefore, be a way by which I can disown the govt, the constitution, and everything related. I propose the Right to Disownment.

Every citizen should have the right to disown the govt of that state. This frees him of any taxes, and also liberates the govt of any responsibility/obligation towards the individual. This balances the equation between the govt's performance and citizens' obligations.
  • The govt be like any corporate entity -- merit-based. You perform, I subscribe to you. You don't perform, I disown you.
  • I won't pay VAT, and the govt won't be obliged to resolve consumer-products related litigations for me.
  • I won't pay road-tax, and the govt won't be obliged to make roads for me. I agree to pay a tax every time I use a maintained road.
  • I won't pay the education cess, and the govt shouldn't feel obliged to provide education at the primary and other levels for me. The govt shouldn't bother to create reservations, etc for me. I would be more than happy.
  • I won't pay the income tax, and I won't expect the govt to interfere with the finance of the country. Everyone would be content.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Google MV's pics

Follow this link to see some (supposedly spy) photos of Google's office at Mountain View, CA.

The sad MHRD

The Ministry of Human Resources of the Govt of India is a sad entity. While most of the limelight is nearly always taken by the other more-profilic ministries of Defence, Finance & Home, MHRD has lately tried all tantrums to exhibit its existence. What else can explain the sudden urge by MHRD to raise the reservation to unprecendented levels so that one in every two students is an undeserving one? Who wants it? I don't think even the OBC's like this. They'll forever be tagged as the one-who-did-not-deserve.

If the ruling goes by, I have a few more suggestions to make for the upliftment of the so-called backward classes (BC).
  • 49.5% of the width of any and every road be reserved for BCs. No one else can traverse on them.
  • 49.5% of all public toilets in India be reserved for BCs. They should be FREE (as in free beer) too.
  • Out of every 100 times Arjun Singh's wife/daughter has sex, 49.5% of them should be with BC men.
  • 49.5% of Arjun Singh's balls be castrated and donated to BCs.
  • For every book which anyone buys, he should tear 49.5% pages and donate it to a BC guy.
  • 49.5% of all land be donated to BCs.
  • Everyone should donate 49.5% of his income to BC people.
  • 49.5% of India's GDP be donated to BCs.
  • 49.5% of oxygen in the atmosphere be reserved for BCs.
  • 49.5% of all sea-beaches be reserved for BCs.
  • .. and so on. 49.5% is the (magic) key figure.
Needless to say, the BCs should not be required any payment, merit, etc for the above favours.

Mr Arjun Singh, you are an unhappy wretch. The more I think of you, the more I love the pigs in my neighbourhood.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

My fourth job offer

I got my 4th job offer on 16th. This time it's Google, Hyderabad. This concludes the Google honeymoon which started on Dec 6th last year and lasted for 101 days. The process involved 9 interviews (2 on phone, 5 in Bangalore and 2 in Hyderabad), numerous mails and a similar no of phone calls, and fetched me my first air-trip (to and fro Bangalore in Jet airways) and 2 Google T-shirts.

Interview 1 - Interview 8:
Algorithms algorithms algorithms algorithms.
Each interview involved 2-3 questions and would last for about 1 hr.

Interview 9:
It can't really be called an interview. The only question I was asked was the meaning of my name, which, for natural reasons, wasn't very difficult to answer. The rest of the time was spent in me asking questions while my interviewer stood near the board explaining me things. He explained me a lot of things related to Google, the policies, the interviewing process, etc. He explained me Google's 80-20 funda, by which a person is given 20% (i.e. 1 day per week) free time to work on anything. This one day gives a person the chance to develop something very useful and interesting. The end-product can be recommended in the review process (which takes place every 6 months) and might lead to promotion and other incentives. Many of Google's flagships product have emerged from this 20% time. Ex: Orkut, Adsense, Google News.

Some excerpts from Interview 9:
Me: This is my 9th interview. What does this mean?
Ans: Nothing. A person is interviewed till as long as the deciding committee feels that the candidate hasn't been tested in all aspects.

Me: Should I expect more interviews?
Ans: Not very likely. 9 interviews is kind of enough for a fresher. I had 13 interviews.

Me: How many people are there at Google, Hyderabad.
Ans: There are 300 people, but only 20 engineers. The rest are people in advertising, marketing, art, design, etc, etc, etc.

Me: What is SDE, SET, SQA, etc.
Ans: These are names given to positions. SDE -- Software Devel Engineer, SET -- Software Engineer in Test, SQA -- Software Quality Assurance. When a person joins Google, he's just assigned to one of these based on some heuristics during the interviewing process. The real allocation is done 6 months later. Google doesn't do the dirty kind of testing.. the ones like black-box testing, monkey testing -- these are outsourced.

In essence, the motive of the interview was to convince me that Hyderabad does exciting technical work contrary to the popular notion associated with the word test. He was successful.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Getting direct rendering on MSI Xtreme with ATI Radeon Xpress 200

MSI Xtreme motherboard x86_64, 512 MB RAM (with 64 M shared)
ATI RADEON XPRESS 200 Series integrated on-board graphics

Problem: DRI not enabled with ATI drivers on Linux. Actually, after installing the rpm available from ATI's site, glxgears' performance drops. What runs at 400 FPS with vesa drivers, runs at 200 FPS with ATI's drivers (fglrx).

Solution: The kernel module wasn't getting compiled properly. ATI released new drivers on 8th, March. But that wasn't enough. It required some tweaking.
I used to get a missing <asm/ioctl32.h> error. There's no <asm/ioctl32.h> on my Fedora Core 4 (FC4-x86_64)
Replacing all such occurences with <linux/ioctl32.h> works.

  • cd /lib/modules/fglrx/build_mod
  • Replace all occurrences of <asm/ioctl32.h> with <linux/ioctl32.h>
  • sh (this should succeed. It should at least make fglrx.ko)
  • cd ..
  • sh
Besides, I need the fglrx64 rpm installed. The rpm released on 8th March didn't work for me. This one did.
So, finally I have direct rendering (confirmed with: glxinfo | grep direct) on FC4-x86_64. glxgears reports 733 FPS.

Monday, March 06, 2006

R & D Showcase '06: Display Wall

The R & D Showcase ended; a lot of fanfare, but the industry was uninterested (stupid Bush!). If the activity observed in the academic building is any criteria, it was succesful -- never before had I seen such activity going on in the main building. So many people moving around systems, tables, posters, and other people.

Display Wall
The Display Wall was unprecedented this time. The 3x4 matrix utilized 12 systems. The combined setup with a 6.25 megapixel resolution, 8.704 GB RAM, 1 TB storage and 36.2 GHz of processing power was cooled in a separate room (#215). 11 of the 12 systems used had the same config as the ones in lab-5, and the ATI graphics drivers were unusable in Linux (shame shame ATI).

Sincere thanks to Parry and Tarun for installing Fedora on all the systems, SMR for helping throughout thereafter, and Vardhman for the pics.

Some common questions asked about Display Wall:
Q1: What are you doing apart from just cutting an image and displaying on those systems?
Ans: Those are not images. They are rendered from a 3D model. The model has 13 Million triangles, and is a bit too heavy for even the most serious graphics cards.

Q2: Why not use a projector instead?
Ans: A display wall is different from just projecting using a projector. Projecting a display merely increases the scale, not the resolution. And if you sit near to a projected display, you'll start observing blocks. However, in the case of the display wall, the combined resolution is far greater than that of a single system. You can of course replace each monitor with a projector, and the total resolution is herculean.

Q3: What's the front-end and back-end?
Ans: I don't know, and I don't care.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Google Google everywhere

Google did this. Google did that. Google started this service. Google started that. Google reintroduced this, and in style! Google has become the order of the day. If you read Slashdot, you'll realize that Google is not covered once every day, but about once every few hours. These people are as happening as their tools are awesome, as in too good to be true. With every product they come up with, it's closer to their objective of Organizing the world's information, in line their fundamental Do No Evil ideology. When I had been to Google's Bangalore office, a noteworthy point in a "Google's Truth" board hung on the cafetaria wall said: Success need not necessarily come through evil.

With so much attention focussed on a single organization, Google has raised the eyebrows of all the evildoers. All their efforts are directed to demolish this leviathon. Will the Google magic stay? Or it's just an ephemeral dream? In which case I'd rather not wake up. Therefore, I hope Google remains unvanquished with their "Do no Evil" ideology. Touchwood.

Friday, February 24, 2006

World vs. Blog World

There's a striking similarity in the ways the blogging society is evolving with the worldly society of yesteryears. Essentially, there's a lot of parallelism between worldly societies and blogging-societies -- both appear to have similar traits.

For instance, in a worldly society, some people talk while others listen. In the cyber society bloggers write while others read -- communication.
In a worldly society, people respond to talks, ask questions, volunteer comments. Likewise, in the cyber society, readers post comments to blogs, ask questions, volunteer suggestions, etc. People respond similarly in both worlds. Worldly society or cyber society, if taunted, one feels bad; if challenged, one feels charged; if accused, one feels hurt; if congratulated, one feels happy.

When the no of guests visiting you become large, one hires assistants (secretaries, PAs). Likewise, when the no of posts and comments becomes unmanageable, you resort to RSS feeds, and blogreaders.

Stepping further, in worldy societies, we have chaos when everyone starts shouting at the same time, mostly when their speech doesn't make sense. In the cyber society, a similar confusion results from a cluster of unconnected, senseless posts -- sum total 'zero'.

Therefore, when someone calls me unworldly, I don't exactly acquiesce. I'm worldly in my cyber-sense. I ain't social. I'm cyber-social. I'm blog-social. So what if I don't visit others' places, can't respond energetically while talking face to face? I visit others' blogs and can comment. That's cyber-expression. I'm cyber-worldly.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Sending mails with php

PHP has this mail() function to send mails. However, it's more than
plain vanilla to use it to send mails, esp if you don't have a fully
qualified domain name (FQDN), i.e. all systems on the LAN. Of course you
could use network/socket functions to connnect to the smtp port of your
mail server, but below I describe something simpler.

1. Edit /etc/mail/ to add your relay server:
You should have a line beginning with "DS"
Append to it your mail server.

2. Start sendmail

3. Use the mail() function, as is.

Note: Of course, this works only if the mail server allows you as a
relay host. i.e. your system must be trusted. All systems on the LAN,
generally, are.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Fed up with windows.. for the Nth time

Today, I got fed up with windows, for the N-th time again. I wished to
get the Volume License keys for WinServer 2003 (IIIT has a paid MSDN
subscription). I have the username/passwd and I know it's available on
their site. But all that I get after logging in to the msdn subscription
page are advertisements to their products, features-list, and junk. As
if we paid for the subscriptions just to view their ads. There's a pile
of junk CDs (of softwares, apps, everything from M$... all legal)
available in the server room. They gather dust.

I roamed around on their site, and I landed to all places except where I
could possibly find anything useful. Junk Junk Junk everywhere. And
their ads at other places. Going to a crack-page and getting a key
appears quicker. I fail to realize how people can tolerate such stuff
from M$ after all the money that they pay.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Movie: Home Delivery

I saw "Home Delivery". I feel shamefully sorry for that. If the director's old father was kidnapped, his mother was about to be hanged, his poor sister was about to be raped and his wife and children were about to be thrown into bubbling acid, the plight of the director forcing him to make such a "movie" can be understood. Not otherwise

The effort, a confused mixture of all possible genres, is comparable to a retard who discovers a box of colors for the first time and overturns each and every color on his first drawing.

(liftoff from my yesterday's diary entry)

Friday, January 27, 2006

When Indian Politicians start blogging

At some places, politicians have taken to blogging. Makes me imagine how it'd be if some of our Indian politicians take to blogging. Sure, some of them will have to be introduced to keyboards, and some will need to be taught to recognize ABCD.. but, oh, don't stray into details. Let's try to see through the mind's eye how it'd all be:

I'm sure AB Vajpayee would     leave lots         of white         space         between *sentences*             to compensate             for the                     temporal latency             in his speech. L K Advani would have tonnes of Hinduism-propaganda speeches on his blog, but he'd be careful enough to slip in praises for Jinnah, in one corner. The entire RSS *workforce* would get angry and bombard his blog with spam-ic comments, but he'll still continue to be at the top (it's adsense, you see). Sonia Gandhi would write in Italian, but we wouldn't have understood any of her anyway had she written in plain English. The rest of the Gandhi dynasty (Rahul, and siblings) will post flattering comments at their dear mummy's words of wisdom. Manmohan Singh would have his *own* blog (at the request of Sonia), but most of his posts would be symlinks to Sonia's. Yes, I know, he's intelligent. That's why I said *most*. The remaining rest would have some intelligible junk on economy, gathering flies, as the CPI would force him to keep them offline (the CPI don't blog -- they can't actually, it's a bit too revolutionary for them to digest). Who else.. ah... how can I forget Lalu! He'd have his blogpage on a Yadav's server, with free internet from a Muslim ISP. The wallpaper would be adorned with cowdung, and his posts would consist primarily of bullsh*t. The domain-name would be registered in the name of Rabri (yeah, for name-sake only). In cooperation with Congress, he'd enforce a 40% reservation for OBCs for posting comments on his blogpage.

There'd be some nice blogs too. Blogs of youngsters like Arun Jaitley, Chidambaram, Mahajan would make sense. Uma Bharti's blog would be in Saffron fonts but she'd be confused with supporting the posts of BJP or her esteemed Guruji. She'd keep switching between the two, until at one time the BJP kick her out permanently from their blog-circle.

In essence, our politicians will be a lot more interesting and little less pathetic, if they take to blogging. And not to mention, WE, the people of India, would have at least some say on their posts (thru comments, that is).

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

My phone too is being tapped

First it was Amar Singh who complained about his phone lines being tapped by Congress. Down south, Jayalalitha joined in support with similar grievances. Chandrababu Naidu too acquisced but insisted that he'd join the fray totally only when he had proof. L K Advani too had a gut-feeling that his phones were being tapped and that he suspected it was Congress. After so much attention-tapping, I thought I can also garner some share of the pie. I too have a gut feeling that my phone is being tapped -- so what if I don't have a phone! It doesn't really matter, does it? It's blame blame game; and I'd too like to blame it on Congress. Come CBI, get to action, start hunting for the culprit. :)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Bihar beckons

"Bihar Beckons" -- This was the title of a full-page advertisement in The Economic Times inviting investments in Bihar on the occasion of the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas! Ever since I gained consciousness, this is the first time terms like investment, development, GDP, etc are beginning to be talked about my infamous home-place, Bihar. Nitish Kumar, the new chief minister, sure showed a lot of hope to re glorify the lost prestige of Bihar during this meet of over 1000 NRIs. If these efforts have their way, and I hope they do, Bihar too would be able to shrug off its 15 years of misrule and anarchy and march towards something better. Elsewhere I've even read that the chief minister has a scientific bent of mind, and he has plans to replace the cowsheds in the chief-minister's residence with a video-conferencing facility connected to all the district headquarters. Perhaps, Nitish should have a chat with Chandrababu Naidu over some of these things. Till then, a long way to go for Bihar.