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

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Write in Hindi anywhere

If you've been happily amused by the transliteration feature on Orkut that lets you write scraps in English but transliterate them to Hindi (जैसे: ये और वो), you are going to love this Firefox transliteration extension that lets you do the same thing in practically any textbox on any webpage (well almost). No more do I have to painfully try to map words to strict characters. It even offers dropdown suggestions to choose from.

The extension works for Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil.

ये बहुत मज़ेदार है. इंस्टाल कर के देखो. केवल फायरफॉक्स में.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chandrayaan I

India launched its first mission to the moon, Chandrayaan I, at 6:22 AM today.

The launch has been perfect so far and the launch vehicle has reached the orbit successfully. It'll take around 15 days from now to reach the moon, our nearest heavenly neighbor. With a cost of Rs 380 crores (USD 83 mn), it's going to the cheapest mission to the moon, even cheaper that what China sent. It carries 11 payloads including 2 from NASA.

ISRO's PSLV series of launches have been immensely successful, with this being the latest (and greatest) feat. This will position India as a leader in space programs rubbing shoulders with only a select few nations in the world.

Space-talk aside, what's especially intimidating to me is that it's hardly been 2 hours since the launch but Chandrayaan's wikipedia page has been updated with the exact information, including the launch time. That is, someone somewhere cared enough to make this information accessible and useful to others, despite the fact that Chandrayaan's launch has been celebrated with a lesser fervor amongst the media (and by extension, amongst Indians) than the passion with which rioters have torched Mumbai following the arrest of Raj Thackrey, the latest Indian barking-pimp. This speaks for itself the kind of stories the children of this country are growing up with.

Anyway, I'm thrilled that Chandrayaan's first leg has been perfect despite rains and rough weather at Sriharikota. I hope it reaches the full journey as perfectly.

Go Team. Go India.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Rain Rain, Go Away

Like a true cancerian, I love rains. Actually, I also love waterfalls, brooks, lakes, any water body for that matter. However, of late I've developed a kind of hatred towards rain, especially Hyderabad rain. Not only does it start pouring every time I'm riding my bike, the intensity of the downpour is directly proportional to the lack of shelter-sheds on the road-side. Screw you, Murphy!

To add to the anguish, bad roads cause havoc in rains. Potholes, lack of proper street-lights, stagnated water every here and there on the roads, are a common scene when it rains. There's one thing especially painful about Hyderabad rains - sometimes when it rains, it keeps drizzling for days at a stretch. It's like, it doesn't want to downpour, and at the same time it doesn't want to stop; just the perfect amount to totally drench me on the road.

Last night, my macbook got spoilt as I got trapped in a downpour.

Rain Rain, Go Away!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

F.R.I.E.N.D.S One More Time

I finished watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S one more time - all seasons, all episodes. I thought I'd blog every time I finish one round. No matter how many times, it doesn't get old.

Every time around there are jokes and expressions that make me laugh, events that make me sad, dialogues that teaches something more about America, and situations that, well, let's face it, teach about life.

I lied a bit when I said that I watched all the episodes. I conveniently skipped the scenes where Joey and Rachel (attempt to) make out, coz it kinda touches a gray area. No matter what, this scene irritates me. Hey, don't blame me! I have a friend who gave up watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S just coz Rachel & Ross broke up. Things can get emotional, you see. I have my own bias against Rachel. In my opinion, she's too uptight, high-maintenance and it appears conspicuously clear to me that she and Ross were on a break. :P

There are characters everyone loves. But at the same time there are some characters hated unanimously (read, Janice). The feeling on hearing Janice was best described by Joey as "feel like pulling my arm off just so I have something to throw at her".

I'm pretty sure I'll continue watching this series over and over again. So long.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Disable Overlay Advertisement on is a great news website for India. Just one problem - they have this irritating overlay advertisement every time you visit the homepage. Besides, while you check the individual stories, and go back to the homepage, the advertisement comes up again. It's irritating because you should either wait a few seconds before the advertisement auto-closes, or click the close button (which changes position every once in a while).

I wrote a greasemonkey script that disables this advertisement once and for all on the homepage. It's located here.

If your firefox does not have the greasemonkey ad-on, install that first. If you don't use firefox, see why you should. If you don't know what firefox is, you should go out more often.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Room available in Kendriya Vihar, Gachibowli

One of my roommates discovered that he had spent a long time of his life in Gachibowli, so he decided to shift to Kondapur. Kondapur's not too far away, but I sure need a replacement for him in my aptt now.

Our aptt is a 3 BHK in Kendriya Vihar Phase II, Gachibowli. The place is great. It's clean, no-noise, water 24 hrs, electricity almost 24 hrs, gated community, safe, secure. The place is a 4-min bike-ride from Microsoft, Infosys campus and a 10-min bike-ride from Hi-tech City. A lot of guys and gals from Microsoft and Infosys stay in this aptt.

The room has 2 windows and wooden cupboards. We have a BSNL 256 kbps broadband internet available over wifi. Also, a fridge, well-equipped kitchen and washing machine are at disposal. All this for a room at Rs 3950 p.m. (including maintenance charges).

If you are interested, or you know someone who is interested, leave a note here, or mail me at: nirnimesh-(at)

Monday, June 02, 2008

Google Reader & What I Should be Reading

"Web as a Social platform" You've all heard it, might have even seen it in action.

I realized the power of a social web when I was thinking about my blog reading habits. There was a time when I'd painfully populate my Google Reader's subscriptions. Depending on how ambitious or slacking I was, it'd either drown my reading-list with hundreds of blog posts, a bit too many to handle, or drought it with scanty ones so I'd have to look out for news websites in askance for more. I could never figure out the right set of feeds to subscribe to - the same feed that'd report something as interesting as an iphone launch would sometimes also report something as worthless as Amitabh Bachhan being down with flu. How did this problem get solved? Enter the social web.

What I did was simple. Discounting the bare minimal set of blog feeds that I did have to subscribe myself to keep my Krebs cycle working (say, Slashdot), I left all the others for the people in my friends list to read and share. I began with reading stuff that ALL my friends would share and then cut it down to hide the ones that felt like abusing the 'share' feature. Now I'm down to a much smaller list of friends whose shared blogs I read. The most awesome part now is that what I read has already been screened once by someone whose judgement I tend to agree with. The end result: I'm pretty happy with my reading list these days. I realize that I hardly ever miss something I'd really want to read about and at the same time, I don't get swamped with excess of them either.

It's intimidating how easily a seemingly tough problem of "figuring out what I want to read" could be made more tractable by a social web, even though I myself did not have a clear judgement of what I really wanted.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

BSNL Broadband

I recently got a brand new BSNL broadband connection. And it's amazing.

After the initial hiccups of waiting for a about a month to get the phone setup and the router/modem delivered to me, everything else was a charm. I was given a type IV wifi modem. It's a UTStarcom WA3002G4 modem with 4 ethernet ports.

Now, I was terribly pissed off with my previous connection - one from Sify. First, it wouldn't work on my Mac without having to login from a windows machine (Sify has a mac login client but it doesn't work). I had to wait for hours for my windows-loaded roommate to return home so before I could get online. Second, one would need to login using the login client at least once every day, which means that you couldn't leave the internet unattended hoping it to keep downloading stuff. Third, the speed was awful. Fourth, I was charged Rs 1222 per month for the unlimited connection. Fifth, the Sify guys have blocked icmp, so I couldn't ping the outside world.

With my BSNL Dataone connection, I have all the above problems solved, and everything comes for a chick Rs 750 only. It has been only 2 days and so a little premature to comment on reliability and speed, but I have been able to view youtube videos with minimal buffering wait.

Now coming to the modem. The UTStarcom WA3002G4 modem is a beauty. I had a DLink wifi modem earlier, which amongst other problems, didn't allow connection to my company's VPN and had a crappy web interface which was dumb as a door knob. The BSNL modem provides a tidy http interface & slick telnet interface as well. My account information is entered into the modem itself so I need not have a login client on the end system, and so it works on all OS-es all the time. The modem allows me to backup configurations to my machine, and it saved my day a few minutes ago. I love it.

Every thing's worked like a charm so far. Touch wood!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Nobel Prizes, Innovation and India

I came across this article about "What will it take for a Indian Resident to Win a Nobel Prize" (see pdf or converted html), written by CSIR boss, R A Mashelkar, with whom I had the pleasure of shaking hands once during IIIT's R & D Showcase. Little did I know Mr Mashelkar then.

The article talks about how the Indian society acts, in the name of conservation, to not only discourage original out-of-the-box ideas, but in some sense to even penalize them. In the history of science, a mere 7 Nobel prizes have gone to people of Indian origin, which is a shameful number. The Indian Society is so resistant to change that even original and novice ideas get lost very soon. At CSIR, Mashelkar did not have the difficulty of finding funds, but that of finding original fundable ideas. Even today, there's no lack of employment but the lack of employable people.

Nobel prize requires not only original ideas and path breaking work, but also hard work and luck. Considering the amount of investment India makes in research, it's hardly any surprise that all thinkers flee to USA or Germany. Not coincidentally, these are the two countries which have the highest number of Nobel prize winners.

India's answer to this appears to be -- well, we don't get enough Nobel prizes, we deserve more, let's reserve a certain number of them for Indians. That's what has been done with professional education lately. That's what is being done for jobs. At this pace, it's rather stupid to bear the brunt of being an Indian and sing patriotic songs. Fleeing to other countries not only makes sense, it also becomes necessary for survival -- I'm talking about the kind of people who need to think free to survive.

Sunday, March 30, 2008 Turned the Lights Out

Found this out from a friend's blog and couldn't help shamelessly copying. The folks at Google turned the lights out for an hour. Read the original post here.

Oh, and if you are quick, you can find the it live at:

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Check mChek

Today, while trying to foot my airtel bill, I came across mChek, a mobile payment solution. It works like a charm.

It allows you to make payments from your cellphone without giving out your credit-card information or following painful websites. I just had to register once and choose an mchek pin, using which I was able to view my latest airtel bill and make payment, all in a matter of about 3 minutes.

You get all the good things that online payment services like PayPal & Google Checkout already offer:
  • consolidated summary of your expenditure in your bank-statement
  • never have to divulge your credit-card details to third-party
..except that you can do all this from your phone, the only electronic device you carry anytime, anywhere.

mChek will be expanding to cover bank's payment gateways soon.

mChek has shown the way - the cashless society is here and has gone mobile.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

State of the TV

Deprived of good internet, I spent a lot of time in front of the idiot box (television) in the last few days. I have a few observations on the state of television in India.

  1. All news channels have crime as the general theme. They now dig for crime. A TV channel showed the full footage of a man mowed down by a train, and the channel was blaming the train-driver for not stopping! I mean, come on.
  2. The channels on God and religion have the unique distinction of having people blabber words with absolutely no sense. And that lack of sense is supposed to give a feeling of how limited man's abilities are. (Swami Ramdev's programmes are a small exception)
  3. The only channels worth watching (movie channels excluded): Nat Geo, Discovery, Cartoon Network, Pogo, CNBC
  4. The house-wife channels (Ekta Kapoor types) have reached an unbelievable level of depravity. The fundamental ask is: Use No Head. It's funny to see how they imagine about the kind of things a household can fight for. And what's with the 3-way face-flashing after each and every dialogue?
  5. All DD channels was, is and will be legally and socially and politically safe. They believe in: No action, no mistakes.
All views are personal and should not be misconstrued as detrimental to anyone living, dead, waiting or zombied.

Tata Indicom Wireless Internet on Mac OS X Leopard

I am visiting my hometown in Patna, a part of the country where good and reliable internet is still a luxury. I had purchased a Tata Indicom wireless USB modem (Huawei EC325) for internet on-the-move. It works like it's supposed to, except that I couldn't get it to work on my MacBookPro running Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard).

Though the folks at Tata Indicom customer service refused to support Mac OS, their website now does have the drivers for Mac and usage instructions. However, that didn't work as-is for me either.

With minor tweaks, however, I did get it to work and now I'm using the same internet to blog.

1. Download the driver and README at Tata Indicom's website.
2. Install the driver corresponding to your machine (ppc or intel). Do not follow the README. Those instructions did not work for me.
3. Open System Preferences > Network and you should be able to see an entry for "Huawei Mobile". Configure the device with #777 as the telephone number and "internet" as the username & password.

4. Click "Advanced..."
5. Select "au by KDDI" as the vendor and "cdmaOne Bluetooth" as the Model. This chooses the modem script to run. The defaults did not work for me.

6. Click OK and then connect as usual

The internet is not blazing fast, but is good enough for checking mails, that is, good enough to let me breathe everyday.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Blood Donation

I donated blood today for the first time. They say that blood donation is good for health, as it improves circulation of new blood. And the body is able to make up for the loss in a mere 48 hours anyway.

More than anything else I'm happy for the fact that I'm not underweight anymore. I remember having considered blood donation earlier but could not because I wasn't healthy enough. My weight at 68 now makes me perfectly healthy for my height.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Shop Review: Shapes Opticals

Shapes Opticals is located in the heart of the nearest market from Hitech City, near Pizza Hut in Madhapur. I went to Shapes Opticals to get my specs' frame mended after I managed to break it on my flight back to Hyderabad from Singapore. What happened thereafter is an exclamation.

The guy refused to mend it; he suggested buying a new frame instead. I wanted my specs fixed as soon as possible, so I gave in and signed up for a new specs. I was promised that it would be done in a day. Now, I wasn't truly confident, as it has happened on a previous occasion that the shop had defaulted on the promised time, so I insisted that he better make sure that it's ready by time. He said that it would be.

When I went to the shop the next day, I was surprised to see that it was actually ready. Just that it wasn't the frame I wanted. The frame I wanted was black. This was red. When I complained, the guy in the counter (the same one who took the order) started tweaking it -- he started pulling out things from another black frame and plugging into mine. I didn't object. And there in front of my eyes, he broke the frame. He asked me to come back later. And he wasn't even ashamed. To make it worse, when I got angry, the other guy across the counter asked me to take cancel the order.

I returned back after a day and this time my frame was brown. And it didn't even rest well on my nose. I had given up hope to get my point across. Brown wasn't unbearable, and I could do some adjusting myself, so I just took it. After all, it was my fault to choose Shapes Opticals despite apriori bad experience.

Points to note: Shapes Opticals has exorbitantly high prices -- frames and glasses alike. The guys across the counter are dumb to say the least. They don't have any kind of expert knowledge about specs. They are rude. They'll almost certainly default on the order.

All things said and done, I understand that he has the right to sell crap if people are ready to buy, and I have the right to refuse to buy from him if I don't like it. So, here I am, exercising my freedom to make others aware that if you want reliable service on your specs, do not choose Shapes Opticals. You'll almost certainly be dissatisfied.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Disneyland and Wow!

One of the things I can most prominently remember about my childhood is Disney cartoons. There was a stage when Mickey, Donald, Pluto, Goofy meant more in life than probably computers mean today.

I visited Disneyland at Anaheim near Los Angeles. Many thanks to Google for the company trip.
I managed to catch 2 rides with Larry Page and Eric Schmidt.

Disneyland is a childhood dream come true. One less thing left to do in life.

I'll stop now and let you look at the pictures or the slideshow below.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Unconditional Love

They say that when you want someone no matter what, without any expectations for returns, then it's love.
Love is blind, they say.
Love knows no reason, they say.
Love is unselfish, they say.
Love is about giving, they say.
Love is unconditional, they say.

All wrong. And most Bollywood movies are a testament to the above errors.

I'm afraid to say after spending (a little less than) 25 years on this planet that I disagree with the above tenets. Love is exactly the opposite.

Love is an expression with the tightest equations, where ever give is balanced by an equal and opposite take. You love someone for his/her qualities, not for the lack of them, which is why perhaps I'll never love a beggar. You love someone for his/her achievements, not for their failures, however unfortunate the circumstances leading to the failure be.

Love is selfish. If it's not selfish, it's not love. It's charity. You love someone not for the other person, but for yourself. You try to make the other person happy because it makes you happy in turn.

Ayn Rand said:
Love is an expression of self-esteem, of the deepest values in a man's or a woman's character. One falls in love with the person who shares these values. If a man has no clearly defined values, and no moral character, he is not able to appreciate another person. In this respect, I would like to quote from The Fountainhead, in which the hero utters a line that has often been quoted by readers: "To say 'I love you' one must know first how to say the 'I.'

Love is not about perishing for someone else but about rising higher together.
Love is not a weakness but a strength.
Love is not a bondage but an encouragement.
Love is not unconditional.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Happy Republic Day

Not that the Republic Day bears a great significance to India as it exists today, this day has been celebrated for 58 years now. Called as the red letter day, this was the day 58 years ago when the Constitution of India came into effect and India was declared a Republic (that's straight from my 7th grade history text book).

As a child, I actually used to enjoy this day primarily because it was a holiday but also because of the colorful jhanki (processions) that different stats would march near the Red Fort, and the President onlooked them. It was fun to watch all that on TV. Then the president would give away awards to the highest achievers in the country.

Alas, the grandeur is lost. It's just another day for me now. Even though a president doesn't really "command" anything, his personality and achievements in the past used to at least make it look honorable. But with the current president, Pratibha ...something.. , I hardly see the point. Failure magnified and under-achievement celebrated. Imagine a Bharat Ratna given off from her hands!

It's time we stop doing things to carry on a tradition. Just because it has been done that way for years does not mean it's not outrageously stupid!