7.31.2008

The bleak situation

Holidays started three months ago. A welcome relief from God-knows-how-many-months of self-imposed slavery to routine and study. After the initial couple of weeks of not-knowing-what to do and trying-to-do-as-much-as-one-could-inspite-of-not-really-knowing-what-the-hell-to-do way of lifestyle that usually takes one by the storm at the start of any long vacation, there was the overseas trip. And of course the big upgrade. After that, life started to settle down...

Everyday, it was(and is) the same thing... Wake up at 1100 hrs and wonder if it is noon or still morning..take a leak.. switch on the computer, check mail, blog, forums, etc.. Brush teeth.. Head downstairs and read the paper while breakfast+lunch combi is being packaged by grandma. Take the parcel and head upstairs. Read something (blogs, articles on tuxmachines.org, or just Calvin&Hobbes while shoving food into mouth). Head downstairs to wash plate and return, to continue in front of the computer till evening..eat something..hang about downstairs, quick walk to buy some milk or something.. listen to music till the body falls asleep at around 0000 hrs or so.

A quick examination of this routine made me realise that it wouldn't do. So I drew up an ambitious little plan, rather a to-do list. It ran soemthing as follows:
1. Learn linux shell-scripting.
2. (if possible) Learn JS, and hopefully PHP too.
3. Go for swimming classes.
4. Do some railfanning.
5. Find some time to do some stretching exercise, pullups, etc. to improve my pathetic physique.
6. Read some books.
7. Blog!

Bleah! That was two months ago. As of now, the status stands.
1. Shell scripting knowledge: Moderate
2. JS learnt: Bare-basics... PHP: Nil
3. Swimming classes: Not joined yet
4. Railfanning: Hardly any
5. Exercise: Nil :(
6. Books read: Few
7. Blogging: Somewhat regular-ish.

As a result, my chair has a perfect impression of my bums on it and by now, my neighbours and people in the street have given me up for an illusion. My grandparents(who live in my house) seriously doubt my existence during the daytime. My weight has remained strictly the same over the past three months, and I doubt if I will make it through half an hour of rigorous outdoor-play. And still rake-thin, with dense glases.

Pic courtesy http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/computer-addiction-2.jpgAfter months of serious linux usage, I feel a void whenever I'm forced to use Windows... and to my horror, I found that stuff like certain software reviews published on DIGIT, etc., actually are not interesting me any more! One look at the screenshot, the 'Start' button in it, and the thought, "Oh.. it's for that-other-OS." crosses my mind and I head to another page... I SWEAR I'M NOT MAKING THIS UP!!! I dont know if whatever is happening to me in this context is good or bad.. maybe I'll just wait and watch :)

In the true spirit of my health and immunity, I caught a cold from nowhere. My eyes start to drift and my fingers feel heavy as the sedation induced by the medicine takes over my system. All's left is the publish button.
And it's not a long way to bed.

7.24.2008

whereis whatis which who

Looking back at the archives, the ever evaded question popped up again --> Why do I blog? WHY? Possible reasons for anyone to blog could be:

Pic copyright ogrecave.com1. For a living? That's definitely not the case here. I waste precious bandwidth everyday posting, checking for and replying to comments, and reading others' blogs... and no bloody soul pays me a paisa for this.

2. Because one is a self-obsessed, pompous bitch seeking fame and power, and striving to do so by blogging on abstract topics like 'magnanimity towards saucepans' and 'how to effectively pee against the hailstorm'? ? This statement requires a thorough dissection for anyone to understand it fully. Please close all other windows/tabs and devote your complete attention to the following reasoning:
Well, there isn't anything much to say you fool.. The fact being, the above statement doesn't apply (in its entirety) to me.

3. Making a point about anything? You got me waaay off there. I havent made the slightest point about anything in this piece of crap that has been hogging space on Google's (may its tribe increase!) servers since July 06. Well the point is.. oops! forget I ever said that. Onto number 4!

4. ... (Since this reason itself doesn't exist, there is no reason for us to assume it means anything. --Ignore--)

5. Too lazy? What do u mean? Do you guys know how much of hard work it takes to climb the steep stairs up to my room, bend down to hit the power button, and type each key on the keyboard? Oh, and that heavy mouse..

6. ... (uh.. See reason 4)

(If you somehow managed to break out of the infinite loop from #4 to #6, I congratulate you on your very human ability to control your mind... move on)

7. Life? I refuse to comment on this reason because I dont understand what it means anyway. And then. whoever(if any) said blogging is life was probably dead when he said it.

8. To disillusion and disappoint poor guys searching for serious topics in google, who get directed here in hope and see cartloads of junk? Well I dont mean to do it to them anyway! If you're one of them, sorry buddy but that's how the world is :)

7. #Error... entry already exists, replace(y/n): y --> Replacing failed. Segmentation fault. Core dumped.#

Well I still don't know why the hell I blog. Reasonable topics I kinda have a hint why I blog, but as to crap like this I am in the dark about. In a serious tone however, the scribbles in the header image (Ravings of a blah blah..) would shed some light in the direction of my intention in blogging.
Finally, I seek to dis-crap this post and make it a tag :) All ye loyal readers, TAKE THIS AS A TAG and write a post on why you blog.

PS: The title may blend well into the theme of this post in general, but linux users can make out four commands in them. As someone said, linux is something you learn easily, but spend a lifetime trying to master. Hats off!

PPS: Pic courtesy "http://ogrecave.com/2001/04/29/complete-cavemans-club-book-preview" I dont know if doing this is right or wrong yet, but I'll make this statutory statement anyway :)

7.19.2008

Public Enlightenment?

Here's an incident which happened a few days ago... My grandpa asked me to send an email to a company, something to do with deposits and stuff... I led him to my room and typed out the whole thing, and clicked the send button. I, rather proudly, showed him how lightning fast email was, and how the receiver must have been staring at it within moments. he took a great interest in it, and soon I was showing him how to compose one, and how another lands up in your inbox, etc.. the basics of which are crucial to the very means of electronic communication we rely so heavily upon now. All went merry as a 1mbps connection until I opened the inbox once again.

The mailer daemon... sincerely apologising in its vile tone that it couldnt do anything more, it threw at me the error: "Recipient's mailbox exceeded quota". Two happy faces fell.
My first reaction was a "Dont panic" to grandpa. He behaved quite casually about it - saying "Why cant they take care of these things?"
My second reaction was a "F!!king retards, they proudly give away their mail address and have their draught-ridden bandwidth full!" Well, hasnt anyone heard of gmail here? That company doesnt have its own domain for email, its hosted on a vsnl.com domain... well I bet they even run their business on dial-up. Irritated, I phoned the officer, and told her what had happened. On hearing it, the first reply I got was "Did you type the address correctly?" Now I got pretty pissed off. I retorted that if I was sane enough to email them and report what the damn error was, they could have probably figured that I was intelligent enough to TYPE the address correctly. This remark worked..she saw the matter in the proper light and said hurriedly, "I'll check and call you back later". Of course that call never came.

A mean trick which hardware retailers love to play on buyers is bundling operating systems with their laptops or computers. In other words, forcing consumers to accept the latest OS with its cost added along with the PC. The recent trend is selling laptops and PCs with the ever fabulous Vista. The standalone cost of the 'Ultimate' version of that OS, I guess runs close to twenty thousand... People are tricked into thinking Vista offers unbeatable security while in reality it sports a BigBrother attitude, going paranoid over everything. I have had some experience with it and it just seems like... well that's not the point here :) Recently one of my friends had to buy a laptop and the retailer actually refused to give it without the OS! My friend wanted plain old XP but the retailer put his foot down and said he could only sell it with Vista. Of course, my buddy only went blue in his face when I told him how much more he could end up paying for the laptop than its regular price if he opted to buy it with Vista.

The story doesn't end with PCs... some years back a letter appeared in the CHIP magazine. A good samaritan was buying some accessory for his computer at a local hardware dealer's when a customer enquired about the Core2Duo processors. The dealer's reply was that Pentium4 Chips were faster and better in performance than Core2Duo and that for Core2Duo chips to work, you needed atleast two RAM sticks! The customer was about to fall for that dirty trick... Our good samaritan went red in his face at the dealer's blatant attempt at cheating customers, and assured the customer that he'd better go for Core2Duo as if his life depended upon it and not to pay any heed to the dealer, who obviously was desperate to clear his old stock.

Well? Whatever next?

PS: I do not want to spark off any controversy about that pic in this post... I do not endorse it in any way. It is NOT my creation. The original image can be found here. *phew*

7.05.2008

Better broadband in *ubuntu


Having used linux for a long time now, I also do my part in persuading interested friends to switch over to Linux. And the distro I recommend? Kubuntu. Well I dont want flame-comments by die hard GNOME users, I'm only supporting the ubuntu family of distros(Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xubuntu etc) and you will agree that the community suppoert for the ubuntu family is HUGE. Huge as in overwhelming. This applies to the whole ubuntu family. If you're a KDE fan, go for Kubuntu, GNOME fans reach out for ubuntu and if you are sticking to an outdated config, simply shut your eyes and get Xubuntu.

Back to the point... most newbies are stuck over a very commonplace question --> How do you set up your broadband connection on this damn thing? If you already know, skip the instructions and read the rest of the post. And in case you have come to this blog searching for an answer to the same, well here goes a n00b version:

0. make sure your modem is on and properly connected.
1. Open your command-line (terminal, konsole, xterm, whatever).
2a. At the prompt, type sudo pppoeconf
sudo is an ubuntu adaptation of 'su' (SuperUser) command in other distros. This allows you to assure the computer that you are root. And in case you are curious, PPPoE stands for Point to Point Protocol over Ethernet.
2b. When asked for your password, yield.
3. You will get a primitive-ish user interface that automatically configures the modem at eth0 and asks you some questions. Dont lose your head if these make no sense; the default/recommended options are fine.
4. Type your username and password for the connection when asked.
5. Follow what it says after that and set it to start at boot time if you prefer it that way. (For data/volume-based billing this is fine)
6. As it says, you can use the command pon dsl-provider to start it, plog to see the status, and poff to terminate the connection.
7. Bingo!

Less hassles for better broadband.. my efforts :)
I've been learning linux shell sripting(BASH) and some javascript to keep myself busy these days, and the disappointed attitude of a friend over the connection ("look at all these commands") prompted me to write my first practical shell script. Well for those who dont know, a shell script is the linux/unix version of batch-files in DOS. Only, infinitely more powerful that those .bat files!

My shell script is a tiny bit of code that gives you a menu based user interface(text based, however... I'm still not into graphics programming) that you can run from your terminal. You can connect, disconnect, view logs, save them etc. Nothing much actually. But quite useful... I use it now :)

You can download the file as 'dsl.tar.gz' by clicking here

Download and save it somewhere. From linux, extract it to your home directory. Follow the instructions in the README.exe file provided with it (if you are a n00b, follow them carefully!). I'm working on better features like terminating the connection at a set time, and stuff. Comments and suggestions on this first little venture always welcome :)

7.03.2008

Suezmijne

Suezmijne (pronounced "Sess-mij-jne", 'jn' as in 'jnaani'. First syllable accent):

The phenomenon is NOT the newest phenomenon as many think it is. It's been around in some special circles for some time, precisely three years(and counting). Made public under some classified reasons of contingency, it made its first public appearance barely a few hours ago. Many great thinkers like John Hobston, Daniel Dickson, Samantha O'Sullivan, Bran "The Brat" Philhardy who dominated the progressive outlook of their time have spent the majority of their lives contemplating the numerous mysteries of this inanimate, yet profoundly (often explicity) hyperactive phenomenon.

The origin of the word is shrouded in mystery itself. People of the northeast claim it to have coined in semblance of a man trying to say "Excuse me" in the middle of a particularly embarrassing sneeze, but critics often point that out as an error arising out of the increasingly-politeness-consciousness of the folk.
Yet another speculation is that it originated from the Blauvian word for a purple pencil sharpener(disambiguation --> the sharpener was purple, not that it sharpened purple-pencils). However die hard supporters of this theory are still working to find out what the purple pencil sharpener had in common with this interesting phenomenon. (Update: Govt. has sanctioned a mainframe computer for the same) Archeologists, on the other hand have gone on strike complaining of lack of funds to continue their work at the base of the Kaynz stationery store, looking for ancient remains that might provide a clue to the above argument.

Often, the gauss theory of electromagnetism has been found to have yielded comletely unexpected results in bizzare exponents when applied to suezmijne. This made it a hit with chemists worldwide, who used it to ridicule the physicists. In late 2005, a group of shady teenagers went on the rampage with poisoned ballpoint pens, asking random pedestrians (and often stopping cars (whose drivers looked kind enough to stop (and not mow them down))) in the street, "Are you suezmijne?". To this day, no one knows what answer they expected - since all those who answered were pricked with the pens coated with some powerful alkaloid, ensuring seizure withing 24 hours. Three days(and tens of mysterious deaths) later, the gang disappeared as mysteriously as they had surfaced.

Suezmijne has interesting properties. It causes the sun to appear to rise in the east and set in the west (rare exceptions have been sighted by regular users of LSD or opium, where the earth was reported to have rose and set in the middle of the Qwarjzk desert on rainy days and spun over Mount Everest in winter). But no more properties have been discovered owing to its rare availbility for examination. The last phoenomenon attributed to Suezmijne was the gruesome torture and subsequent killing of Twenty eight pangolins reported missing over a year ago. Thirteen carcasses were found in a state of extreme horror, in grotesque postures such as never exhibited by the species. Two were beheaded and the rest were found in a terribly ecstasic looking stage, most presumably in hysteria. (There has been some argument over the latter, with some experts claiming it to be a deeply enlightened state of exhilaration and not hysteria - sources unknown).
The cadavers disappeared under mysterious circumstances (some point to spontaneous combustion) on the eve of the autopsy.

Nothing more was heard of the Suezmijne until wee hours of Thursday morning, when a sheaf of classified papers were spotted at the desk of the highest authority (who prefers to remain anonymous). The papers have been withheld in safe custody thence (but there are rumours of some contents having leaked out a few hours ago -- await update), and their appearance have sparked off fresh interest in the subject that has fascinated man for decades.