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Thursday, December 30, 2004

Alert in Chennai

There is an alert all over TV about rising water levels in Chennai. It's still normal near my house which is a few kilometers from the sea.

In the papers today there is an article about how hardly any animals have been found dead in Sri Lanka.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Ritz blitz gambling trio keep their chips

Ritz blitz gambling trio keep their chips: This is really cool.
The Hungarian woman and two Serbian men used a laser scanner hidden in a mobile phone linked to a computer to gauge the speed of the ball and the roulette wheel, and hence the number most likely to come up.

They were able to do the calculations swiftly enough to place their bets as required before the roulette wheel has gone round three times.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

New Delhi Times: Forbes names richest 40 Indians

New Delhi Times: Forbes names richest 40 Indians.

Interestingly, amongst the top 40, as many as 19 didn't inherit their wealth. 11 amongst the top 40 made their wealth in the tech sector while another 9 struck it rich in pharma. Infosys alone has 6 amongst the top 40!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Life on earth is expensive, but it includes a free trip around the sun every year.
-- Wattwurm

How to Choose a Search Engine or Directory

Interesting reference: How to Choose a Search Engine or Directory. This is so useful when searching for resources that are not normally searched by Google.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The latest story arc at FoxTrot is really cool. Especially yesterday's comic:

Can you believe this ?

[The predecessor of this post is here]

Windows Update seems to have taken matters into its own hands. When I left the computer running for the night, it seems to have -- get this -- rebooted on its own! Wow. When I arrive at work today I see this nice little bubble box on the system tray which said something along the lines of "Windows has rebooted your machine and completed the update. Your computer is now protected". In the process, it took out half a weeks work.

If it wasn't bad enough having an annoying dialog box pop up much too frequently and have me click on Restart Later every single time, it now turns out that it completely ignores your choice and reboots anyway. What probably happened was that the dialog box popped up sometime during the night, and as I wansn't around it would have stayed on screen. After a while of no response, it probably decided to ignore the fact that I had clicked Restart Later no less than fifty times during the day (of course, it probably doesnt keep count of this), and went ahead and rebooted anyway. Amazing, simply amazing.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Korea’s “Wired Red Devils” and citizen’s media

The latest entry on Preetam Rai's blog is a very interesting one about, a korean media website which does not employ regular journalists, but has citizens as reporters. It is similar to a community blog, but not quite the same. He has mentioned this in the past as well. Check out his post for more info.

Here is an excellent article from the site (also from Betterdays), and it shows how balanced and well written the pieces are -

When Western Media Bias Hits Home

Examples of poor user interface design

Windows XP SP2 seems to have made some changes for the worse. I was trying to use the Find... feature to search a bunch of files on my hard disk. Imagine my surprise when I got this dialog box.

I have never encountered this dialog box before, so I'm assuming its something new with SP2. First of all, I get a totally cryptic error dialog for following the exact same steps that I had followed the previous thousand times. Second, I'm not sure anybody other than a programmer can figure out what a volume means, let alone what indexing a volume means. And why does it say Indexing Service (the words pompously starting with capital letters) ? I wanted to do a find, not indexing. If you are not a programmer, you will be hard pressed to figure out what find has to do with "Indexing Service". And worst of all it doesnt tell me how to fix the problem. Ok, I'm ready to index the volume so that I can get find to work again. But where do I find out how to do that? Whoever designed this dialog should go out and read Alan Cooper's excellent book About Face 2.0.

Microsoft has also made a change to the Windows Update program that runs in the background. The old Windows Update program would download and install the updates and then ask you if you wanted to restart now or later. If you clicked Restart Later, it would just shut up and you could restart whenever you wanted. The new one annoyingly pops up this dialog every fifteen minutes (at least it feels that way; it might be longer).

Even if I click Restart Later, the dialog box comes back in fifteen minutes. I'm in the middle of some work and can't restart the computer for another three days at least. Everyone knows that programming is all about "getting in the flow". Many books have been written about this topic. And with this dialog interrupting my work four times an hour (been going on for a whole day), I'm just not able to get any work done. Can't I just make it go away and stop bothering me ? I'm seriously considering throwing away two days of work and restarting the computer just to make the goddamn dialog go away, because there is no way I can tolerate it for another three days. Another option is going into task manager and shutting down windows update. I think I'll do that.

This post is a part of the selected archive.

Windows XP SP2

I finally installed SP2 for my Windows XP computer. I had been holding off all this while after hearing bad stories of incompatibilities with SP2. Once I was done installing it, my display driver prompty died a horrible death, leaving me at 640x480 with 16 colours. After a lot of browsing around the ATI website, I finally got my hands on the latest driver and installed it. Everything works properly now. For a while I was genuinely scared because this was my work computer with tons of important material on it. I knew I could always run it at low resolution and make backups if needed, but it's still not a pretty situation.

This brings up an important lesson. I am technically proficient enough to know that when Windows dumps me into a low resolution mode with 16 colours, there is some problem with the graphics card driver. I know the exact model of the graphics card that I have. I can browse company websites and update drivers on my own.

But what about the average person who owns a PC ? All they know is that for some reason the text is huge and the colours strange. They are unlikely to know the model of every component in their PC. And downloading and updating drivers ? Forget it. All they know is that after installing a widely publicised update, their whole system stopped working. Panic!

What about a sysadmin working in a large company with thousands of installed PCs. Should he risk putting SP2 on all of them ? What if something breaks and employees are unable to work ? The company will hold the sysadmin responsible for lost productivity. On the other hand, SP2 fixes a number of widespread security vulnerabilities. What if the entire network is taken down by a virus which exploits one of the vulnarabilities fixed in SP2 ? The sysadmin is responsible for this again. A lose-lose situation for the poor sysadmin.

This is what makes writing software so damn hard. On the one hand, there are an almost infinite number of configurations to test against. According to Scoble, Microsoft made every employee run SP2 prior to release so that they could sort out problems. In spite of that, SP2 has caused widespread conflicts with installed software. On the other hand, if Microsoft held back from releasing SP2, they would have been roundly criticised for not taking action against security vulnerabilities and allowing virus writers/crackers to have a field day exploiting them. Damned if they do, and damned if they don't.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

World Sunlight Map

The World Sunlight Map: A composited image showing the map of sunlight across the earth.

How it works:
The World Sunlight Map provides a computer-generated approximation of what the earth currently looks like. While less impressive than actually being into orbit, this is much more accessible to most of us.

I start with cloudless images of the earth during the day (from a pair of NASA satellites) and night (from a DoD program to map city lights). Every 3 hours, I download a composite cloud image based on data from weather satellites all over the world. And every half hour, these images are composited and mapped onto a sphere by xplanet according to the relative position of the sun. The flat maps are post-processed by ImageMagick to cut off the 15 degrees nearest the north and south poles where cloud data is unavailable.

Experimental search engines

Based on this comment by Gaurav in a previous thread, I decided to list out some experimental search engines that I know of. These are search engines that are in development, beta, or dont index large portions of the web. Here is my list -

New MSN Search (Beta)
Mooter - Web Search
Vivisimo clustering search engine and Clusty (Beta)

It looks like clustering search engines are the hot thing to experimant with at the moment. I've tried a few searches with some of them, but the results are still generally not that great. Keep in mind that they are all still experimental / beta.

Finally, a couple of special interest search engines. These aren't general interest search engines, and there are thousands like them covering every imaginable topic, but I find these two to be the most interesting

Koders - Source Code Search Engine
Pi search: Search 4 billion digits of Pi :-)

Any more interesting search engines out there ?

Sunday, November 28, 2004

New feeds in the blogroll

I recently added 3 new feeds into my daily reading list. All three are local (Singapore resident) bloggers. Take a look sometime -

Mr. Brown
Singapore Herald

Reporters sans frontieres - Third Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index

India ranks a lowly 120th (out of 167) in the third annual worldwide press freedom index. Many countries in war/civil war rank above India (countries at war usually supress the press). Many poor countries rank above India. Most of the countries at the top are European, followed by the Africa and Americas. Almost all of Asia is clustered around the bottom, getting nine of the bottom ten spots. A sole exception is New Zealand (9th), the highest ranked non-European country.

According to the report,
Countries such as the Philippines (111th), India (120th) and Indonesia (117th) figure in the bottom half of the index despite having free and lively independent media, since killings and physical attacks on journalists, along with outdated laws, still prevent a full flowering of the press.

Violence against the media in India rarely comes from the authorities but from political activists and in Kashmir from armed groups.

Google vs MSN Search, Round 1

I was looking for the product page of the Nokia 3220. I rarely ever use the seach feature on a company website. Rather, I just go to Google and search for the item and the page I want is usually within the first few links. This time I decided to try out MSN search instead. And here are the results: Google results and MSN search results

The page I want is the first link on both search engines. So this round is tied. I need to fool around a bit more with MSN search to see if it's worth using.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Mutation test

The mutation test for checking the quality of your test cases -

If you are able to change the functionality of the code and the test cases still pass, then the test cases are obviously not good enough

Monday, November 22, 2004

The London Pillow Fight Club

The London Pillow Fight Club

  • Hide a pillow in your bag.

  • Go to the specified location at the specified time.

  • Fight !!

Complete rules are available here

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The Incredibles

Watched The Incredibles last night. Rating : Highly recommended. With a funny story, well animated visuals and an excellent cast of characters, Pixar has done it again. The movie will keep you captivated for the entire two hours. Thats right, its two hours long, departing from the normal one and a half hours length, making this a relatively long movie. But that should not deter you from watching this movie, its a lot of fun right through.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

The CSS problems are now fixed. It should now look proper. I have tested this on Firefox 1.0. If you have CSS problems with any other browser, drop me a line.
The spacing between the images seems to be messed up. Looks like some CSS problem. It's quite strange because it looks fine when I preview the page. Will look at it later, tomorrow maybe.

Flickr badge

Added a flickr badge. This is the photo strip that you see on top. The badge contains the newest five photos that I've uploaded on flickr.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Flickr Zeitgeist

I've setup a Flickr Zeitgeist of my photos on flickr. You can see it on the sidebar to the right. It 's a flash app that shows random photos from my flickr photostream.

Firefox: 1,000,000 downloads on day 1

Wow. Click here

With partial data in, I'm excited to announce that we're estimating that we broke 1 million Firefox 1.0 downloads on day 1 of the release. search plugins

Over the last few months, I have been using for storing my bookmarks. In fact, my firefox bookmarks menu is almost completely empty because I hardly ever store my bookmarks there. With, I can access my bookmarks from any machine. Since I use more than one machine, this is a definite plus. I also use the website to explore related links and discover new websites. Coolest of all, I can subscribe to the bookmarks of other people, and import the RSS feed of the subscription as a Bloglines feed. Anytime they bookmark something new, it shows up as a new unread item in Bloglines. Amazing!

I've now got hundreds of neatly categorised bookmarks on, and the way you find stuff is by searching. Most often, you search your own bookmarks, but sometimes you want to search everyone's bookmarks. In order to do this, I go to the search page and search. After doing this for a while, I though how cool it would be if I can search from the Firefox search bar (you know, that bar on the top right which you use for searching google). I checked out the list of available search bar plugins on mozdev, and they didn't have anything for There was even a pending request for this very feature. So, full of enthusiasm, I wrote my own. Because of the excellent structure of the search results webpage, this turned out to be a completely trivial task.

I have now submitted it for inclusion on the mozilla search bar plugins page. Review should be complete in a week or two. In the meantime, if anyone wants to try it out, leave a comment with your email address and I'll pass the code to you.

Flickr: Photos from Siddhi

I'm going to be giving Flickr a whirl. Flickr is a website which allows you to upload photographs and organise them. You can also use it to share photographs. Actually there are quite a lot of features like RSS feeds, tagging, discovering related photos, photosets and a whole lot more. Check the website for all the info.

Anyway, you can access my photos here. Most of them have appeared on this blog before, but I'll also be uploading new stuff starting from tomorrow. To be updated of any photos, I suggest subscribing to the RSS feed, which is available here. If you use Bloglines, then you just click the RSS link above and subscribe to it.

Flash CV

(via Scoble): Check out this flash CV. I'm impressed by the creative and innvative approach taken to distribute his CV. It is well done, innovative, creative and is deservedly getting a lot of attention around the various blogs.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Firefox 1.0 is here !

Firefox 1.0 is here ! Get it here. I'm downloading it right now. As you can imagine, so is the rest of the world, and the download is incredibly slow. Its going at 2 KBps at the moment. Even the website is near inaccessibe. Just for comparision, when I downloaded Firefox 1 Preview Release, I was getting speeds of around 30-40 KBps. It's about 40% done right now, so another 30-40 minutes to go.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Visual style changes

I finally got bored of the look of the blog. I decided to write my own CSS instead of using a standard template, and this is the final result.

I have only tested on Firefox 0.92, so if it doesn't look right on your browser, leave a comment.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Sunset at the chinese gardens

I was going through some of the photos I had taken a few months back when I found this one. I dont think I have posted it before, so here it is - Link: Sunset at the chinese gardens

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Getting things done: An update

If you still remember, I had blogged a while back about 43 Folders and the "Getting Things Done" (GTD) book. Well, its time for the first status update.

Getting started

So far, I'm happy to say that the system does seem to be working. To get started, all you need is a computer and 4 text files. Lets call them inbox.txt, actions.txt, projects.txt and someday.txt.

Step 1

Anytime you remember that you need to do something, open inbox.txt and add a line there with the item you need to do. For example, inbox.txt might look like this

* Prepare project plan
* Buy shaving blades
* Pay house rent
* Fix bugs 322, 323, and 345
* Buy xbox
* Buy newspaper

Step 2

Every morning, you review your inbox.txt. Go through each item and categorise it like this -
Do I need to do this ? If not, delete the item.
Does it take less than 2 minutes to do ? If yes, stop everything and complete it immediately. Then delete the item.
Is this a single action ? If yes, copy the item to actions.txt and delete the item and delete the item from the inbox.
Is this something I want to do, but sometime way in the future ? If yes, copy the item to someday.txt and delete the item from the inbox.
Is this a project ? (A project is anything that takes more than one action to do). If yes, copy the item to projects.txt and delete the item from the inbox.

If its none of the above, its probably not important. Delete it.

Important: Make sure you go through each item in order. Once you have decided what to do with it, delete it from the inbox. By the time you are done with all items, the inbox should be empty.

Step 3

Go through each item in the actions.txt file and start finishing those actions. As you complete them, delete them from actions.txt. Actions can be taken in any order you want. If you complete a project, delete the project from your projects.txt file as well.

Step 4

Once a day, go through your projects.txt and decide what next action you need to do to complete the project. Put this in your actions.txt.

Step 5

Whenever you get any new stuff that needs to be done, add it to your inbox.txt.

Step 6

Once in a while (say every month or so), check your someday.txt file and see if you feel like going ahead with anything there. If you do, then add it to your projects.txt file. Otherwise, leave it as it is.

Thats it! Right away, you will start seeing an improvement in your productivity. This is not the complete thing of course, and it can get much more complicated than this, but this is enough for someone to get started without getting overwhelmed.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Friday, October 15, 2004

Continuations, coroutines, closures,...

A lot of discussion on continuations, coroutines and closures seems to be floating around in the python end of the Internet in response to some discussions on the comp.lang.python newsgroup and the python mailing list. I'm going to be collecting some of the material and going through it and later I'll be blogging here on these topice. Anyone with interesting links related to these topics are encouraged to reply in the comments.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Friday, October 08, 2004

Google SMS

(via Gizmodo) : Google SMS - Another new service from Google. Send an SMS to GOOGL (US only) and recieve information like the nearest restaurants, addresses and w whole lot more (click the link to get the whole list). Google now has a ton of services for a web search company. What will they get into next ?

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Hierarchy is an organisation with its face towards the CEO and its ass towards the customer

- Jack Welch

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Evan Williams leaves Google

Evan Williams leaves google. Evan was the guy who co-founded Pyra Labs (the creators of Blogger), way back in 1999.

SpaceShipOne wins XPrize

I just read the news. The second flight which was scheduled for October 4th was a success, and with that they have claimed the Ansari XPrize. Mojave airport now becomes the worlds first licensed spaceport. This is fantastic. Could this be the big boost that space tourism required ?

NPR also has a roundup of this historic event.

Friday, October 01, 2004

J2SE 5.0 released

J2SE 5.0 has finally been released.

So, the product has shipped, generics and all. The generics feature has caused mountainloads of controversy, especially over the 'erasure' feature which makes the compiler 'forget' the type of a generic within a function (for more, see Bruce Eckels posts here, here, here and here).

So will all that controversy affect actual usage of generice in Java ? We shall have to see.

The Invisible Train

(Via Scoble) Time for something cool. The Invisible Train

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Spread Firefox - Ten Days

Results of the first spread firefox campaign are out! The aim was for 1 million downloads of Firefox Preview Release in 10 days. The result ?

  • 10 days.

  • 2 million downloads of the Firefox Preview Release.

  • 10,000 registered users.

  • 100,000+ referrals by our 100 most active participants.

This is great news. The second spread firefox campaign is running. The goal is to get 10,000 new users for the SFX (spread firefox) campaign over the next 10 days. Signing up is as simple as clicking my referral link (it gives me referral points), and entering an username and email address. As an added incentive, you can collect points for everyone else that you refer, by passing others your referral link for others to sign up.

So go join up already!

43 Folders

The hot item going through the blogging community is Merlin Mann's new blog, 43 Folders. The core theme of the blog is David Allen's book Getting Things Done. (The name 43 Folders is itself derived from one of the concepts in the book).

I have been following the blog over the last week or so, and it looks very interesting. I certainly have a problem when it comes to getting things done, and this has made me think about implementing the system. Its all experimental of course, but if it works out reasonably well, I think I'll go out and buy the book.

By the way, 43 Folders is on my Bloglines subsription list and should now appear on my BlogRoll on the sidebar. If you are on Bloglines, I recommend subscribing to 43 Folders. Another good idea would be to read the posts in the archives, as this would form a base for understanding future posts.

In the meantime, I'm going to implement the system over the next month and report the results.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The Tao Of Programming

Thus spake the master programmer:

''When the program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes.''

- The Tao Of Programming:

Why specs matter [dive into mark]

Why specs matter - Nice article by Mark Pilgrim. Made me chuckle at the nice categorisation. The thing is that its not only amusing, but quite true. Of course, we dont have specs (!!) for our current project, so we are all morons. I'm working on it, but its always hard to do it retrospectively.

PL People

Programming Languages and their - A nice page with a list of programming languages and their inventors. Be sure to click on the various links :-)

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Yes, you know its true

Ben Goodger (Chief Firefox developer) writes:
"Netscape had it by being first.
Microsoft has it by being everywhere.
Firefox will have it by being best.

We're coming."

Firefox is coming, and its coming big!

Friday, September 17, 2004

It's here!!

Firefox - Preview Release 1.0. The Firefox 1.0 preview release is here !! I'm a devoted Firefoc user, and I highly recommend it. I'm putting a button on the sidebar to promote it. You should too ! Here is another big fat link so that no one misses it.

Get Firefox!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Google Code Jam 2004

Google Code Jam 2004 - The Google Code Jam starts in a few days time.

Google is looking for engineers with the programming skill to rewrite the world's information infrastructure. The Google Code Jam 2004 is one way we hope to find them. While we don't impose arbitrary deadlines on our engineers, we do put a premium on well-implemented code. And we appreciate the thought process required to create it. In fact, we appreciate clear thinking in all its forms, from puzzle solving to chess mastery (one of our interns was an International Grand Master).

Friday, September 03, 2004

How to Design Programs - MIT Press

Yesterday I had blogged about the books I couldnt find in Bangalore (Programming Pearls and The Practise of Programming). Today I'm going to blog about one of the books I did find (the rest will be in subsequent posts).

That book is "How to Design Programs" from MIT Press. I had been looking out for the book, having read a part of the online version of the book (available here). Little did I expect that it would be available in India. Well, surprise of surprises, I ran into a single copy of the low cost reprint of the book, and didnt hesitate in snapping it up.

The book is interesting because it uses PLT-Scheme to discuss program design. For those unfamiliar with Scheme, it is one of the Lisp derivatives. Teaching program design in a functional language leads to some interesting approaches. For example, you might expect material on variables and how to use them to appear in the first couple of chapters. In fact, variables are introduced right at the end of the book well after the discussion on recursion, graphs, algorithm analysis and data structures. This is because functional languages, being optimised for recursion and function calling, can often use a function call instead of using variables.

To give an example take the following java snippet -

public int func(int a, int b) {
a = 4+3;
b = 3*a + 7;
return a+b;

the equivalent structure using the standard scheme design will be -

private int calcA() {
return 4+3;

provate int calcB() {
return 3*calcA() + 7;

public int func() {
return calcA() + calcB();

Notice the lack of variable use. One of the big advantages of such a design is that the program readability - provided you use good function names - is vastly improved. Its an interesting way of thinking which is not apparant to someone who does not have experience with functional languages. Overall, it is an interesting book, and well worth reading. Since the whole book is available online for free, no one should miss out.

Which brings me to my next point. Every programmer should have at least a passing introduction to the four main programming paradigms - imperative programming, object-oriented programming, functional programming and logic programming. This provides a broad scope with which to solve problems, as often solutions can be applied between paradigms; object-oriented design for C programs being a classic example.

It is a pity that Indian universities often teach only what is required by the software companies. This usually means Java with a touch of C by the side. The end result is that the graduate can do his job, but it is rarely creative. Standard formulae are applied to standard solutions by a mass of programmers (quantity over quality?) resulting in something that works, but is rarely innovative. I would like to say more on this, but thats a topic for another post.

In any case, the point I am trying to make is to urge you to go and read the book online, for free, as a good foundation in functional programming does help a lot.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

The Practise of Programming - Kernighan & Pike

While I was in India, I thought I might as well pick up Programming Pearls and Practise of Programming. Well, guess what ? Both books are out of print. Every shop I went to assured me that the books are being reprinted, but can give no concrete date as to when they will be available.

In any case, I've downloaded Practise of Programming of Programming (pdf) from the Internet using my elite mad downloading skillz ;-) Its their loss. If and when they do get a reprint out, I'll buy it - provided I'm still in India.

I just finished reading practise of programming. Its a fabulous book. I've read it before of course (about 2 years back), but not very thoroughly. I had just skimmed it and made a mental note to buy it when I left college. I've read it more thoroughly now, and I've really enjoyed it.

The best of web tool sites

These days, things are slowly moving out of the PC and onto the Internet. So what are the coolest tools that are required for daily survival ? I present to you the set of web tool sites that are essential for daily survival -

  • Bloglines - Bloglines is an online RSS news aggregator. I use it to keep track of a number of blogs.

  • Blogger - Use it to blog, what else ?

  • - My online bookmarking site. It can categorise and store your bookmarks online, so they are accessible from any computer. Just drag a link on your toolbar, and anytime you want to bookmark a site, click the link. Thats it! The coolest feature is that you can see other peoples bookmarks and related bookmarks. I use it to bookmark a site and then see who else has bookmarked that site. Then I see the other related bookmarks that they have bookmarked. Great way to discover new sites.

  • furl - Similar to, but allows you to save and search the contents of the site that you bookmarked. I use to save any websites of interest and furl to save the contents of particular pages.

  • mailinator - How many times have you had to register for using some stupid service, and you dont want to give away your email address ? Mailinator to the rescue. Mailinator will recieve mail to You can then see the mail that address. Its not password protected, so anybody can see anyones mail, so be sure to use an address that nobody can guess like You can then go there and check the mail. All mail is automatically deleted after a couple of days.

  • dropload - You want to email someone a big file, but you cant attach such a big file; or you dont want to fill up the recipients mailbox. Enter dropload. You can upload anything of any size to dropload, and dropload will send a mail to your recipient with a URL from where they can download the file. Uploads are deleted once someone downloads then, so you cant use this to put up permanent downloads. Also, all uploads are deleted after 48 hours.

  • Bugmenot - You go to a website to read some content, but it asks for registration. Argh, you are in no mood to create an account just to read one article. This is where bugmenot comes in handy. Enter the URL into bugmenot and it supplies you with a dummy username and password that someone else has created to let you enter the site. If no username and password exists, you can create a dummy account and upload the username and password into bugmenot for other people to use. Just be sure that there is no personal information in the account.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Friday, August 20, 2004

Back in Banngalore

Back in Bangalore. Will most likely be here till the first week of September.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Amnesty International Report 2004 - India

Amnesty International Report 2004 - India

What is the link above ?

Amnesty International has released their human rights report 2004 (covering January to December 2003). This report covers the human rights situation in a variety of countries. The link given above points to the report on India.

What should I do ?

First, read the report. Next, forward it to as many friends as possible, and urge them to read the report.

What does it say ?

Following are some points taken from the report. Do read the complete report for context -

Sunday, July 25, 2004


Just bought Code Complete 2 - Code Complete, Second Edition!! Reading it now.

Book List

Okay, here is my list of books that every programmer should read at some point or the other. This is only based on the books I have already read. There are lots of good books on my reading list, which arent here. Once I'm done reading them, I'll decide whether to put them here. That said, here is the list (in no particular order) -

Well, thats the list for now. Expect stuff to be added from time to time.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

The above image is from the first page of Steve McConnell's book "Software Project Survival Guide". This is such a stunning image. For anyone who has worked in software, will immediately understand what it means, and yet the point comes through so beautifully and simply. "If only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it. And then he feels that perhaps there isn't." Amazing. Steve, you are a genius, and I'm your biggest fan. Posted by Hello

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Amazon has a great offer going right now. If you buy the Sony Ericsson T610 Phone, with a T-Mobile subscription, THEY WILL PAY YOU $150 !! Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Yet another template change

I'm tweaking around with the template. Expect more changes over the week to come

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Chris Simpson, The Gloria Record Posted by Hello

Brian Hubbard, The Gloria Record Posted by Hello

Ben Houtman, The Gloria Record. I took these photos during Baybeats 2003 Posted by Hello

David M from Fonzie. Taken October 2003, Baybeats music festival Posted by Hello

Carlos Teixeira from the group Fonzie. I took this photo during the Baybeats 2003 music festival, October 2003. Posted by Hello

Blogger Help : What is BlogThis! ?

Blogger Help : What is BlogThis! ? BlogThis! is a simple bookmarklet to make posting to blogger easy. Check out the page for more details. This thing rocks.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Amnesty International - Stop Violence Against Women

Stop Violence Against Women

From birth to death, in times of peace as well as war, women face discrimination and violence at the hands of the state, the community and the family.

Do something about it

Monday, June 07, 2004

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

The Nice programming language

The Nice programming language

Could this be THE hot new concept in programming languages ? The Nice programming language is a totally new, independant language. However, and this is the cool part, it gets compiled into java bytecode. This means that anyone who has the JRE can execute a program written in Nice.

The idea is by no means new. In fact, it is similar to how many languages are all compiled into the same IL bytecode in the .Net environment. However, making it compatible with Java bytecode gives all the portability benefits that Java has to offer. Will this become a trend among new languages ? Create good language features, and become instantly portable by compiling into bytecode ?

Friday, May 28, 2004

Template Change

[Weather - Sunny]

Yes! A template change at long last. I've been going over a few of the new blogger features, and I will probably integrate a few of them into the design. Comments will be added for sure, though that means that all the old comments will soon be gone. Then there is the photo add on with and the blogroll add on from bloglines. Hmm... lots of work ahead.

By the way, I'm still in Bangalore, and will be here till 14 June.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Great article

From Kuro5hin: Genetic Responsibility

Right or wrong, what makes the article so good is the great discussion that it generated. Not to mention that the whole idea is so radical... yet it could well be extremely viable in the future.

In other news, I'm in bangalore right now on some work. Will probably be here for 2-3 weeks.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Manic Miner

Can you believe that this thing was written completely in Javascript ? Amazing.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Grammar God!
You are a GRAMMAR GOD!

If your mission in life is not already to
preserve the English tongue, it should be.
Congratulations and thank you!

How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Linux: As expensive as windows ?

From Forbes : Linux Loyalists Leery

or, why big companies are halting linux deployments in favour of Windows.
Interesting link -

Surgeons Who Play Video Games Err Less

This concerns laparoscopic surgery, in which the surgeon uses a joystick to remotely control instruments that have been inserted inside the body. Apparantly the same hand-eye skills are required when playing video games. Thus surgeons who play video games regularly, are much more skilled at controlling objects using a joystick while watching a TV screen.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Well, a small break due to house/office work. Nothing much to write about either. Went to see the rugby sevens tournament over on Sunday. Torrential rain, but luckily they gave out disposable ponchos for the spectators. So wore it and sat in the rain while watching the matches. Nice fun. The weather eased out during the evening and was all dry for the final few matches. In the end, South Africa beat Argentina with a sudden death try in extra time to take the cup. Pretty engrossing stuff.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

It's 4 am right now and I'm polishing my shoes...

Social Networking

Decided to check out this whole social networking thing when I got an orkut invitation. After being on it for about a month, I'm still totally clueless as to why its supposed to be so cool. I can't figure out what you actually do once you join. Boring !

Topic: Social Networking
Siddhi's Rating: Dud

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

I just ran into a great resource for wet shaving.

These two MSN groups are really good -


I've recently been looking into my shaving methods in more detail, and nowdays my shaving is more fun than it has ever been, and I feel totally great after I'm done. Some days I spend up to twenty minutes just shaving. Wonderful ! Banished forever are the days when shaving was boring, and took just 2 minutes. I'm now on the quest to find the perfect shave, no matter how long it takes.

My current shaving regime is -

Splash warm water on face
Dip brush into water and let the excess water drain
Add shaving cream to brush
Apply to face and lather on the face
Shave with the grain with minimal pressure (for me that is downwards on my face as well as neck)
Wash face
Apply non-alcoholic aftershave gel

I'll be adding a couple of extra steps tomorrow -

Place warm towel on face for 30 seconds to further soften hair and open pores
Lather on the palm of my hand before applying cream to the face
Convert the one pass shave to a two pass shave - with the grain and across the grain
Store used razor blades in a cup filled with vegetable oil (to preserve sharpness). Apparently this extends the lifespan of the blades.

The main test will be the shave around my neck area, especially around the adams apple. The shave over there is usually not very smooth and the skin there is prone to irritation and ingrown hairs. This is why I only rarely shave against the grain in my neck region. Will have to see if the towel makes it better.

Anyone else with some other ideas on shaving ?

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Movie Review : Irreversible

Enough people have talked about THOSE scenes, so I'm not going to add anything apart from agreeing that they were extremely violent, very painful to watch, and in fact at times I did have to look away from the screen because I could not take it.

Okay, with that taken care of, we can now concentrate on the rest of the film. Overall, I thought the film was pretty well made. It was not an enjoyable film at all (you have to be pretty weird to actually have fun watching this film), but it was a very poignant, emotional film.

I'm going to assume you have clicked on some of those links, so you know who the characters are.

This first half of the movie is sheer hell. The camera twist and turns in unpredictable ways. If you dont get totally dizzy, you will at least get a feeling of nausea. It starts off with a scene with two men searching a gay S&M club for a guy called 'The tapeworm'. Here the sound effects really get going with a heavy growling soundtrack, and by now you will be positively sick. Which is just as well, because its followed by that violent murder scene. The next scene shows these guys searching for this club, and we soon realise that the movie is going backwards from end to start. Soon enough, you are sick of the camera, and wish it would stabilize, which it does, and you quickly regret it, because you are left to see the 9 minute long rape scene. Like I said, I wont say much about this scene because everyone else has commented enough. See the links at the start of this post.

Once thats over, the camera settles down, and the story quickly turns from violent to touching. We see life as it was before it disintegrated. We see everyone talking in the subway on the way to the party. And, in probably one of the most touching scenes, we see Alex find out that she is pregnant. In the back of our mind, we already know how things are going to end, and that makes this scene all the more heart wrenching. The stark contrast between the two halves of the movie create even more emotional discord in the viewer. The only jarring thing in the whole movie was the ending, where there is a strobing light that quickly increases in frequency. I felt like my head was about to explode. I have no idea why that was included.

The camera work and cinematography was good. You could easily get the feeling of calm or unrest just by viewing the movements of the camera. The dialogue, though banal at times, was also very natural in some areas. The conversation in the subway in particular had a great, believable flow to it. The acting was exceptional. All three actors were very natural. In particular, the lovemaking scene at the end was so relaxed and even paced like I have never seen in a movie before. At times you could almost feel as if you were inside the movie. The sound was great too. From the industrial growls during the start to the calm soothing music at the end, the music talked to you and set the mood excellently.

All in all, this movie was well made. You wont enjoy it, but you will be satisfied. You wont laugh, and you will cry. But if you can handle it, it will be an experience you might never get at a cinema theatre. And like it or hate it, you will never forget it.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Just back from seeing the movie Irreversible. I'll post my thoughts on it once I have time to digest the movie. All I can say right now is that it's a very different kind of movie, and I'm still not over it yet.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

64% Feminine ?

Just took the gender identity test down at Emode. Here is the result -

Siddhi, you're 64% feminine


Actually, on second thoughts, maybe thats not so surprising after all.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Rorschach Test

Took the ink blot test over at Emode (thanks stale). This test is really good. Very very accurate, at least in my case.

Anyway, this is what it says -

Siddhi, your subconscious mind is driven most by Curiosity

This means you are full of questions about life, people, and the potential of your future. You spend more time than others envisioning the possibilities of your life — things that others are too afraid to consider.

Your curiosity burns with an almost physical need to know and do more. It's only through new experiences that you feel a greater understanding of yourself or the world — which ultimately is the greatest way for you to feel satisfied.

It is possible that the underlying reason for your drive towards curiosity is a deeply rooted fear of boredom. That means that you are probably more susceptible than others to feel like you're falling into a rut when life slows down into a comfortable routine.

You need to make sure you have stimulation in your life — that makes you feel like you're innovating or being exposed to the ideas and experiences that truly inspire you.

With such a strong orientation towards curiosity, you're also prone to a rebellious quality that shows up when you feel you are just going through the motions, and are unable to really influence the world around you. But interestingly enough, your drive towards novel experiences also indicates an openness others don't have, but wish they did.

Unconsciously, your curiosity presses you to learn more, experience more, and get the most out of life.

This is all so true, its absolutely scary.


Yesterday went down to a neighbourhood shop to buy some New Zealand cheese. This stuff is interesting because you dont get these in your regular supermarket. They had a nice selection of cheeses. In the end, I bought about 160g of goats milk blue cheese. It has an interesting taste. Its slightly salty towards the center, but as you go towards the rind, the taste becomes less salty and stronger, probably influenced by the mold and the rind. It's similar to the other blue cheese that I've had in the past, but much more creamy, probably influenced by the goats milk. Nice combination.

I'm thinking of having some of this along with tea, as suggested in this article. Right now I'm thinking of having it with some earl gray tea that I have lying around, which should impart a flowery taste that should go well with the creaminess. I'm not sure if it will be strong enough for blue cheese. A better match might be a more bitter tea, but I dont have any with me right now.

Results of the experiment coming soon.


Recently been playing the 'opposite' game that comes with the Nokia 8250 (yes, yes, I'm still in the dinosaur age). This game is basically just Reversi, but they call it 'opposite' on the phone. Probably some copyright issue in naming the game or something.

Anyway, I finally beat the game on the hardest difficulty (level 6). It was pretty close, with me winning 34-30. I played pretty much the best I have ever played on that game, an almost perfect first half, then started losing out, but hung on in the end. Before this, my highest level win was only level 4. Considering that I have spent quite a while learning the various strategies, I must say that I'm a satisfied soul, although seasoned Reversi players would probably have no problem at all in winning at level 6.

Achievement of the day - Beating the computer at 'Opposite' on the Nokia 8250 at Level 6

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Didn't know that Cowboy Neal had a blog up. I guess most people know who he is, but in case you dont, I should redirect you to this site.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

[Now Playing - Advance Wars (GBA)]

Added some more blog links to the nav bar on the left.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

[Weather - Drizzling]

A photograph I took during the Expressions UK fashion show that was held on 25 August, 2003. This show was part of Singapore Fashion Week 2003.

Monday, February 09, 2004

[Now Watching - Dreamspaces (BBC World)]

This photo shows the Cenotaph, a world war memorial. The memorial was built to commemorate the soldiers who lost their lives in World War I. It was unveiled on the 31st of March 1922 by the Prince Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII and Duke of Windsor). After the Second World War, the momument was modified to also honour soldiers who died in World War II. The photo shows the WWI insciption. The WWII inscription is on the opposite side of the memorial.

In the background, you can see the Esplanade (The two spiky domes).

This photo was taken by me sometime in July 2003.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Religious conflicts

[Weather - Cool & Clear]

From a discussion with a friend. He was saying that a lot of conflict has been caused in the name of religion, therefore religion is a problem to society and should be abolished.

My reply is that many conflicts have also been caused based on the colour of a persons skin. Does that mean we should invent something that makes everyones skin colourless ? Sounds absurd ? Yes, because the obvious thing is to leave the skin colour as it is, and teach people to be accepting towards people of other skin colours. Same way with religion, we should leave religion as it is, and teach people to live with people of other religions. The solution is not to get rid of religion.

I have heard many times that if we didnt have religion, all our problems would go away. Not so. A person who wants to cause conflict will find a reason to do so. If its was not religion, it would have been skin colour or language or the length of a persons hair. There are any number of ways to differentiate people. So abolishing religion would not have prevented any conflict. There would have been another reason given for the conflict.

"The cause of racism is not having a skin, but the it is the work of man and similarly the cause of religious conflict is not the religion, but the work of man. So leave religion alone and cure the person."

Thursday, February 05, 2004

War on drugs ?

[Now Listening to - Aphex Twin - Powerpill Pacman]

Just finished seeing Taboo: Drugs (Episode 1), on the National Geographic channel. Its also running today on National Geographic India, so catch it fast if you can. Otherwise catch the replay on the 20 February. Don't miss it, its a really good documentary.

Important Note: The following is my own opinion, based on what I have read. It may or may not be factually correct. I strongly urge the reader to research the topic on her/his own and come to her/his own conclusions.

It is my opinion that the conservatives, by refusing to talk openly about drugs have done nothing but hurt their position. Blanket statements like "Say no to drugs" are completely naive and are nothing more than an intimidating tactic to get people away from drugs. By refusing information it looks suspiciously as though some important information is being hidden. Drugs range from the relatively mild marijuana all the way to pure heroin and crack cocaine. We cannot equally apply the same standard across the board to all drugs.

A couple of years back, while doing my PGDIT, I read the book The Doors of Perception/ Heaven and Hell. Its actually two books which were originally published seperately. In it the author (Aldous Huxley) writes about his experiences with the drug mescalin, which occurs in nature and has been used for centuries by local tribes.

There is some literature which talks about the benefits of certain drugs, especially conscious altering drugs. Why do the conservatives not address these issues properly and openly, in a proper environment ? No, instead of that, they give blanket statements in the media about the terrible effects of drugs, without ever going into specific details. Which drugs ? What exactly are these effects ? What about the benefits ?

Take marijuana for instance. On 29th January 2004, marijuana was reclassified down in the UK from a Class B drug to a Class C drug. They acknowledge, that although still illegal, it is "substantially less harmful than amphetamines, and less likely than alcohol and tobacco to lead to health problems". For so long, the British government followed the US and other Asian countries in following a blanket zero tolerance policy regarding all drugs. What has changed ? It is simply that they are facing the facts, namely all drugs are not created equal. Many European countries have already come to similar conclusions. In many of these countries, an open, honest discussion is now becoming possible. Why does the non-european world lag behind ? And what about an open discussion regarding conscious altering drugs ?

While I have no intention of using any of this stuff in the near future, what is important is to understand that the standard media message that we have got stuffed into our head - that all drugs are harmful - does not give the whole picture. It is nothing but new age propaganda. Throw it out of your head, and do your own research.

This is my method - Before you use any drug, read the research thoroughly. Be aware that many government funded researches are forced by the government into saying that drug usage is extremely harmful. At the same time, many extreme liberals do not present the whole picture either. Thats what makes it so confusing. There is very little information availble that is true and still tells the entire story. Thats the risk factor. Just make sure that you are not pressurised either way. Your parents may pressurise you to stay away. You friends may pressurise you to go ahead. Dont listen to either of them. Make up your own mind. If, after reading all the research, you have the slightest doubt, then stay away. But if you still feel 100% comfortable, then go right ahead.

A starting point -

New Scientist - Marijuana Special Report (The links on the right hand side of the page are the special report links, links on the left are latest news links)

Wednesday, February 04, 2004


[Weather - Sunny]

Guerrilla Gardening (via nofi) - Guerrilla gardening is the art of using a piece of land which you do not own to grow something.

If you dont want to take over some unused land, but have no land in which to do it, then try Container Gardening or Square Foot Gardening.

Looks very interesting. I might try out square foot gardening sometime.
[Now Listening to - Agatsuma Hiromitsu - Beams]

There are a bunch of things that are bloody hard to find in Singapore. I cannot imagine why it is so difficult to get these :

Shaving cream (not saving foam or shaving gel, but shaving cream)
Shaving brush (made from actual animal hair, not that synthetic crap)
Original anime (not bootlegs or pirated anime).

It seems that the whole country buys only pirated anime. Original anime sellers are nowhere to be seen, though pirated anime is around everywhere. More about this later.

Meanwhile I'm listening to some music by Agatsuma Hiromitsu. He plays the tsugaru-jamisen, a traditional three stringed japanese instrument. I like the sound of it. I looked around for his album, but it does not seem to be around, but I haven't tried too hard yet. Hopefully it should be around in one of the CD shops.

One of the big problems in singapore is that there are a number of big chain stores, all of which cater to the mass mainstream. If your tastes diverge even a little, you are out of luck. This seems to apply to almost everything - computer games, music, anime and even shaving cream. Then your only hope lies with the few stores that cater out of the mainstream - provided they exist and you know about them.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

[Now Listening to - Republic Of Korea Top Radio (K-Pop)]

Google came up with a really nice logo today to commemorate the birthday of Gaston Julia. Although probably not as well known as Mandelbrot (in fact, even the google logo seems to have a Mandelbrot set around the G), but still well known for describing the Julia set.
[Now Watching - Super Bowl XXXVIII]

Just finished watching the replay of Super Bowl XXXVIII. What an amazing game. The momentum fluctuated throughout, and after a scoreless first quarter, the game simply exploded. The game was close throughout, and never became one sided. I feel sorry for the Panthers, they played a great game, but lost it at the very end.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Anomalous Motion Illusion

[Now Playing - Advance Wars (GBA)]

This stuff is totally freaky. Anomalous Motion Illusion. If you like it, check out more illusions at Akiyoshi's illusion pages

Sunday, February 01, 2004

[Weather - Heavy Rain]

Its raining again. Every time I make plans to get out of the house it rains. The same thing happened last week and the week before that. Will it stop raining pleaseeee ?
[Now Listening to - Mandolin Srinivas - Gananayakam]

This photo was taken when I was in Bintan for 3 days in December. My room was overlooking the poolside restaurant. The air conditioner was really cold, so the windows were all fogged up on the outside. However, the center of a window was clear for some reason, and I took this photo through the window. The fogging of the window around the edges combined with the fact that the restaurant light was pretty much the only light in the vicinity gives this photo the high contrast look.

Best of british blogs

[Now Listening to - Mandolin Srinivas - Gananayakam]

The UK newspaper The Guardian has just released the awards list for the best for british blogs. Check out the blog for best use of photography, its really nice. Also do check out the surprise winner for best writing.

Friday, January 30, 2004

Blogger rant

[Now Listening to - Depeche Mode - Behind the Wheel/Route 66]

Ok, I guess I'll follow the category hack given by the Blogger FAQ, namely make each category into a seperate blog. It kinda sucks as a solution and you can't show messages across categories, but what the hell its something at least.

Blogger needs to seriously consider adding in some much needed functionality. I cant imagine what they were smoking when they left out Categories, Comment Boxes, Trackbacks, Photo uploading.

To be fair to them, it is a free service after all, and you cant expect all the priviledges you get when hosting your own scripts on a proper server. Besides, they started out when much of these features were available even in custom blogs scripts. However, much of the blogging world has moved on ahead, and they should seriously think about including at least some of this functionality.

Template changes

[Now Listening to - Kraftwerk - Das Modell]

Been making some modifications to the template, just for the heck of it. Hoping that if I can understand this properly, then I can add some cool stuff to my posts. So far its working out really nicely

Thursday, January 29, 2004

How the heck do you add a comment box ? And how do you create categories in blogger ? Don't tell me it can't be done...

OK, the comment box problem has been solved, though I'm pretty sure there is a more elegant solution than linking to an off-site script. About the categories, the Blogger FAQ has this to say -

Does Blogger support categories?

No, Blogger does not have categories.

Well, thats that I suppose. I'll probably have to think of some hack solution, similar to the one used for the comments
From Wired: The New Face of the Silicon Age

Tech jobs are fleeing to India faster than ever. Remember that old Silicon Valley mantra, "Change is good"?

First Post

Yep the first post. Time will tell whether there will be any more.