4.21.2007

Whatever you'd call it

The action starts around five o’clock in the evening. The whole street becomes resonant with a single jingle that seems to enrapture the residents into staying inside the house. A quivery, baritone voice begins its highly sentimental recital, threatening to move the audience to tears by weaving sad, wailing words into the song.

Ladies and gentlemen, what you had just heard was the title song of the worthless yet alarmingly popular soaps (or "TV-serials") we have today. Marking the beginning of a full half-hour performance by some very talented actors and actresses in town, it warms up the spectators into the verge of tears while instilling in them the seed of anticipation of what would follow after the previous day’s incidents.

Real life is easily forgotten as the viewers merge into the melancholy, repulsive and extremely domestic scenes happening one after the other. Youngsters learn all facts of life from this trash which takes place everyday. The heroine is on a high off glycerine and the villains are ruthless figures who live, eat and breathe only one word – revenge. (One such villain had to flee an entire state because he was constantly attacked by persons on the street as punishment for the crimes he did on TV). Old women draw examples for life from the characters in the serials, swear by them and even cite dialogues from them. A few observations:

1)The name (of the show) is invariably that of a female.
2)Something in every episode makes you think that the director gets his bread and butter from tugging people’s heartstrings.
3)After a few minutes you engage yourself in better, less boring activities such as finding the exact angle between the thumb and forefinger in order to effectively pick your nose, or determining whether the cat on the wall far away is sleeping or just pretending to.
4- or was it 5?)The surprise is when you discover that the commercials are five minutes long.
watever)At the end, you sit up and feel yourself all over, rub your eyes and say “What the heck”

The bedlam continues long into the night...

The idiot-box is finally switched off after much hesitation and the people experience an awful empty feeling (as if they had pulled the plug on a loved one). They wipe their eyes and shuffle off to their chores, their minds preoccupied with sympathy towards the woman who was deserted by her drunken husband or the she-devil 'villainess' at whose deeds they had clenched their fingers barely a few minutes back.

Disclaimer: I dunno what is the case of other parts of India, but this is based on my observations in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Sometime ago there was an ad in a local magazine featuring a computer with a TV-Tuner card. The ad showed a mouse (the digital variety) in tears… with a footnote – “Now you can watch 'serials' in your computer”. Well. That just about sums it up.

Sad... but true.

4.14.2007

Vista on 128MB RAM and 16MB graphics???

Vista, my foot... I don't know why the masses are going ga-ga over the latest baby from Micro$oft. Was it the graphics? You bet. That's what people usually look at. Agreed, the features included are rather interesting. And what does the Big Brother say about the features? Here's what they say

Now, this V-thing is greedy... greedy like a pack of ten unfed, hungry pigs. The damn thing needs 1GB of precious memory(for the so-called 'Ultimate' version), 128 MB Graphics memory, and an unbelievable 15GB of hard disk space! Many of you with similar configurations would love to use Vista (mostly for the fun of it, or for the "security" promised)... but are forced to upgrade their now-perfectly-working-boxes.

Now, a bit about my ol' box: It has a good 1.5GHz P4 processor and a meagre 128MB SD-RAM. The guy behind all the graphics is a humble 16MB thing. The only upgrade I've done is attaching a Seagate Barracuda(80GB) to my 40GB HDD, and a DVD-RW drive.

And my OS? Linux. Specifically, it's a derivative of the award-winning, widely popular and friendly distro ubuntu, and is called Kubuntu.

Yesterday, with an evil intention to see how much of new-age graphics my dabba would sustain, I went to KDE-Look.org and installed the "Crystal" window decor(the title bar) and an icon set called "crystal clear" (seems these guys are fond of crystals). A nice black colour-scheme would be more easy on the eyes (especially at night) than the ubiquitous KDE-trademark-white-and-bue and would resemble "Aero" in Vista. To get a more glassy look, I changed the window-style to the old 'keramik' style. The rest was just a matter of enabling transparency in the panel, and selecting black as the Konqueror(file-manager) background. Been there, done that. And the results were... well...

Behold, ladies and gentlemen, the graphics my 128MB-RAM/16MB Graphics system produced:

(Notice the transparent effect on teh bottom panel and the title-bar of the window)

And here's how this place looks:


To get the ultimate eye-candy, check out this post from my friend, who uses linux on his old 512MB(minus onboard grapics)-RAM system. The results are stunning. And for those who have seen it, THIS IS NOT AVAILABLE IN VISTA hehe :) I mean, the cube and all..

If you have a system with specifications similar to mine(described at the beginning), then woudnt you love to have some basic eyecandy, but still not give up on speed? No, dont run Windows 98 on it! Well, then a minimal linux installation is for you. It will come with ALL the latest hardware support, latest, but fast applications specifically re-engineered for low-spec systems. Put it on your oldest PC and watch it fly! Check out how to do so here.

If I've got you interested in linux - its speed, power, capability.. in short, its awesomeness: Know more here: http://www.getgnulinux.org/. Still not convinced? Read this too.

The final word...there's really NO need to upgrade to Vista. The feaures which have been promised have been available in Linux for ages. And for the graphics, well... you've seen the worst!

4.07.2007

Lord of the Rails

Ever since man invented machines, there has been no stopping him... from the polygonal wooden wheel to the huge atomic reactors, man and his machine have been inseperable friends.

The steam engine was the most wonderful machine ever invented by man. Some say 'twas J. Watt,.. while others shook their heads and hailed Carnot. As for me, I don't give a damn except for the machine, which was crude and primitive and rather without glory, until it hit the rails... and when it did, boy! IT WAS GOD! Starting with the 'Rocket' it grew in size and glory and attaining its height in the golden age of steam, with these huge metal beasts chuffing with authority. And with the introduction of diesels and the dumb electrics, steam was definitely hurtling to its fall. And the stupid government did not even think of preserving a few lines to be run on steam, in India. I was born too late to hear a whistle blow, but I can imagine what the elders called with a gleam in their eyes, "The magic of steam". Now, when all the world is beginning to remember with nostalgia that age, our govt wakes up with a start and brings out their few preserved WPs, WGs and does nothing more than a parade of these locos.

Ok... past is past.. we still have better (ok, different, though) beasts that rule the Indian rails!
And undoubtedly, they are the mighty DIESELS

For a bit of history of diesels in India and more, chew on this

First of all, the oldest surviving, but the most rugged and undoubtedly the most awesome loco... the inimitable WDM2. Built as ALCo's DL560C, it entered India in 1962 and changed the face of diesel traction forever. With its rugged looks, awesome, simply awesome sound and a bit (rather a whole lot of) smoking action, this one was, and still is, the favourite of thousands of loco-lovers both in India and abroad.
(This is the Karnataka Express with twin Etarsi WDM2s)

Watch a WDM3A smoking off from Londa Jn. with a hell lot of smoke and a wonderful exhaust sound

For all who thought that old is gold, well, ladies and gentlemen, introducing the killer on rails, God of diesel, the mighty WDP4.

Imported as GM EMD GT46PAC from, as you might've guessed, General Motors, these beasts are homed at Hubli and Krishnarajapuram and haunt the rails in the Goa-Bangalore-Hyderabad area. Its acceleration sound is similar to a jet plane doing the same, and it gives very little smoke.. as a fellow loco-lover put it, a WDP4 at full throttle gives less smoke than an ALCo [WDMx] at idle. See and hear the beast here!

Its goods-cousin, the GT46MAC, or the WDG4 as its is known to us, is the ultimate diesel freighter, but I personally prefer to be awed by a freight train hauled by three screaming, rumbling WDM2s or WDG3A "shaktis" than a lone WDG4.

(Location: Near Doodhsagar Falls)

With the making of more WDP/G4s and of the newer cousins of the WDM2, the WDM3Ds , diesels are here to stay. And RULE!

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