Wednesday, December 22, 2004

A peach flavoured hookah!

We had a great evening tonight, with a team dinner at Carnival!. For me there was "a first" -- My first hookah puff!! While it was a harrowing experience to begin with, I guess I ended up having fun, just like everyone else. I've just put up the album of the dinner pics here for anyone who is interested in knowing what happened!

The eye of the tiger

The Rocky series is my favourite series of movies. They've been an inspiration to me whenever I have felt weighed down by the pressures and the challenges that life has thrown up. Hell, I even have the entire set lying on my movie shelf. I guess I identify a lot with Rocky himself. I am as vulnerable as he is, and as determined as well. I have had a "Mickey", in form of my dad, who has always protected me. I thought I had an "Adrianne", but I guess I was mistaken. But I do have an "Apollo", in form of Subhankar, my best friend. We are all in place, just in entirely different situations, entirely different struggles.

The movie gives me the strength to renew the hunger with which I chase my dreams, on every passing day. It gives me the strength to fight for the right reasons. It makes me keep in sight the pot of gold at the end of the horizon, that I have always been chasing. It makes me realise that there will be bitter rivals that one faces every day. But when you have fought well enough, you can turn those rivals into your best friends by earning their respect. Winning is fun, but what's most important is that one believes he is in the fight for all the right reasons. October 2002 was possibly the deepest trough of my life. But it was that period that made me realise that nothing is real until the time you believe in it. And I guess that has been the turning point of my life. And I guess that's when I got the "eye of the tiger" back for my ownself...

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Some Good news

Pat Volkerding seems to be feeling much better after his recent illness. Guess Slackware current would get faster updates now that he is back home in California.
More news from KDE dot news. KDE 3.4 would have inbuilt speech synthesis support. Looks like the KDE3.4 feature plan would have quite a few of us salivating!!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Of Weddings, Psychos, Cameras and Distros!

Some people get so starry eyed talking about their hometown. Vijay was in that kind of mood telling me about Vijaywada. I dont know whether I can attend his wedding or not, but I am sure I am gonna give it a good try. I think there are quite a few people who need to get married... Hrishikesh "Nerd" Das and Sapna though I aint sure if the guy is planning to get married at all...then we have...Moumita Sarkar, whose age I keep a closely guarded secret for fear of ensuring that she never does get married...Debasree and Nabankur...heaven knows when they plan to tie the knot and Samit, the psycho... I am putting up a mugshot of his right here for anyone willing to marry this ineligible bachelor!!



Which reminds me, I have a shiny new digital camera; a Sony DSC-P150... and yep!! it works with Linux...Yippeee....



But I think I have had to hold back my cheers for a while. I didnt have any trouble getting it to work on any of my desktops which run Mandrake/Fedora/Suse. In fact I could run it under Mass Storage and PTP modes flawlessly. I had a tough time getting it to work on my notebook though. I tried plugging in the camera to see if it hotplugged and did a
#mount -t vfat /dev/sda1 /mnt/camera. But all I got was mount: /dev/sda1 is not a valid block device. Now I had all the relevant modules(usb-storage,scsi_mod, uhci..etc) loaded. Obviously my hotplug system wasnt doing a very good job. Turned out I had disabled hotplug since I wasnt using it that much. A #chmod 755 /etc/rc.d/rc.hotplug got my hotplug back on track. But I still didnt see the device listed on /proc/bus/usb/devices. #mount -t usbfs none /proc/bus/usb with an appropriate entry in /etc/fstab for the same, did the trick here. What was left? I thought I was done, but I still kept getting the same error. I had no option but to download gphoto2 and digikam. Now compiling and installing these was a snap; getting them to work was another story. GPhoto2 is a program to access digital camera, via PTP. Digikam happens to be a frontend to GPhoto2. Digikam did autodetect my camera, but couldnt connect to it. I had a brainwave which suggested to me that a few things were wrong.
  1. A relevant entry for the camera didnt exist in /etc/hotplug/usb.usermap
  2. Ordinary users didnt have sufficient privileges to access the device
I solved this problem with a minor tweak:
a) Added the following lines to /etc/hotplug/usb.usermap

# usb module match_flags idVendor idProduct bcdDevice_lo bcdDevice_hi bDeviceClass bDeviceSubClass bDeviceProtocol bInterfaceClass bInterfaceSubClass bInterfaceProtocol driver_info
# USB PTP Class Camera
usbcam 0x0080 0x0000 0x0000 0x0000 0x0000 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x06 0x00 0x00 0x00000000

b)Next I hand created the script /etc/hotplug/usb/usbcam to read thus
#!/bin/bash
if [ "${ACTION}" = "add" ] && [ -f "${DEVICE}" ]
then
chmod a+rw "${DEVICE}"
fi

A chmod u+x /etc/hotplug/usb/usbcam finished the job for me & I am now able to use a
digikam+gphoto2 combo to access the camera through PTP. Digikam rox! Here's a screenshot!



But I still want to be able to use USB Mass Storage to access the camera cos PTP drains my batteries real quick. If someone reading this has a solution to my problem do write to me and I assure you, you shall be blessed. BTW, I just upgraded to Suse9.2 a couple of days back and it seems that Novell has drastically toned down Suse's everything_but_the_kitchen_sink approach. Many applications that I loved, are missing. Quanta+, kuickshow, xfce, mplayer, etc.. While I have been downloading these, I am a little displeased with the way Novell seems to be positioning Suse as a distro. Looks like I should give Gentoo a try

Thursday, October 28, 2004

One of those days!

Today was a tough day off work!!
Firstly there was a scheduled power cut between 10:30AM to 5:30PM which kept me unwired for the better part of the day. I had to use the gas-stove to cook my meal and for a person who hates cooking, it can be quite an ordeal. At around 4:30 PM, the tax consultant came down to my place and started coaxing me into taking a Jeevan Anand policy. According to his calculations I would have Rs 588,000/- at the end of the term of this policy which would obviously be, when I turned 50!! As it turns out, I may probably decide to pay taxes rather than go in for investments that give me a pittiance considering an inflation rate of at least 6.5% every year. A quick calculation would tell you that the value of that amount would be close to Rs 100,000/-. Taxes can sure give a person sleepless nights!!



I just preordered Suse 9.2 from LinuxCD.org. It costs me a pretty penny considering its Linux and while being mukt, can be muft as well! If someone is willing to split the costs with me, I guess I could burn a set for him. Kapil offered to split a part of the costs with me. Thanx d00d. I guess we could do with a couple more contributors.




I happened to stumble upon a nice piece of work this evening though, thanks to a posting on the PLUG mailing list, by Kedar K Koppikar. Its Geexbox!! Geexbox is a standalone bootable media player. It comes as a (believe it or not!) 6.5 MB download, which consists of a Linux kernel and minimal software needed to run Mplayer. Sadly the disc kept exiting with an error, on my notebook, but ran like a dream on my desktop. The project seems to be quite similar to Movix with the only difference being the eyecandy of the Geexbox environment. However the developers havent yet released an eMoviX kind of release, wherin users can create bootable discs from their multimedia files or a MoviX2 which would run Mplayer on X, instead of running it via framebuffer. I have yet to tinker with it much. Hope to do so as soon as I have the time ... Let's hope that's soon enough.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11 -- Kicking up the mercury

Today Vijay, Paul and I went to watch Fahrenheit 9/11. After having watched almost 2 and a half hours of Bush bashing, I came to the conclusion that the film was more of a Democrat election campaign than an unbiased documentary. Over the last five years, George W Bush has been the butt of many jokes. Dubyaman has been the favorite caricature of many newspapers and Bush having been a president who has had to take many tough decisions after being in the firing line isnt exactly every American's pin up boy. I am no fan of Dubya myself, and I believe that he like his father has the tendency to be a war-monger. But I believe that at some point of time one needs to give the devil his due. Firstly I think most people who understand the Indian economy well enough would realise the advantages of having Bush at the helm of things for the next five years or so. Our economy is so very dependent on how the American economy takes to the outsourcing phenomenon, post the Nov 2 presidential elections. Now as John Kerry himself would agree, he cant stop outsourcing. But he does have a pretty neat strategy to ensure that India ceases to remain the preferred destination for outsourcing in the near future. His plans of giving a tax benefit to companies that keep jobs in America, is a surefire formula for disaster for the outsourcing industry in India. When companies need to cope with the obvious loss in profits when Kerry introduces his scheme, they would want to cap these losses by moving their operations to countries that provide the same services that India is capable of providing, at a fraction of the cost. Now which would these destinations be? Mauritius, Malaysia,Phillipines and the biggest of them all,China! Skilled labour is cheaper in these countries. Infrastructure can be set up at marginal costs and more importantly these destinations are turning out to be a rich source of English speaking professionals. So it wouldnt take much guessing to realise where the outsourcing industry would move to, if and when John Kerry gets voted to power and starts fulfilling his promises as far as outsourcing goes.






Coming back to the movie, one is confronted by the issues raised by Michael Moore. First is the one concerning Bush's own alleged corporate links with a certain Shaukat Bin Ladin, who is believed to be Osama's half brother. I fail to see what could percieved as an act of anti-nationalism in this. Does the name Bin Ladin, disqualify someone to lead a normal life, or another to collaborate with him in a field that is absolutely unrelated to national security? Does being President, ex-President or a future president disqualify him from conducting business with a man that shares his name with a man that is wanted by law? This very assumption belittles the fact that we are in fact talking about one of the world's greatest democracies here. Would an average American stop doing business with a man called McVeigh just on basis of what Timothy McVeigh did in Oklahoma? I am afraid not. Then why would there be such a bias against the name Bin Ladin? Is it because of the fact that we fancy all that is white skinned? Or is it because there is a presidential election round the corner!? Almost every Democrat in the Senate including Kerry himself believed that Afghanistan was the place where US forces needed to be. But Afghanistan's had a reputation for being an invaders' graveyard. Bush had to play it safe there, for the simple reason that he needed to minimise American casualties considering that already many American lives had been lost in wake of 9/11. I for one was one of the few people who was against bombing Afghanistan, because I believe that this world is a much better place without war and bloodshed. Violence is not an answer to violence. But that is a different issue altogether. The fact remains that the whole of America was united in the decision to invade Afghanistan and no amount of criticism on Bush's decision can change that.



The Patriot act is the civilized, American version of what POTA should ideally be. And while one of my idols, Richard Stallman, believes that this has been an infringement of freedom, security and privacy of the American people, I think that in the wake of the ever increasing threat of terrorism, countries like America,India and Israel have no options but to enact such laws for the benefit of their own people. Homeland security was an issue Michael Moore touched upon very briefly during the course of the film, but what people would fail to notice would be the increased allocation of funds towards Homeland Security, in the recent US budget. As it turns out Bush gets none of the credit for this, and the fact is conveniently ignored.





Moore tries to take advantage of the disaster that Iraq has turned out to be, owing to a failure on part of American Intelligence and tries to place the blame wholely and solely on Dubya. A captain is just as good as his team. I agree that the war in Iraq was at the wrong time, more for political reasons than reasons that would pertain to foreign policy. John Kerry himself had said not long ago that the world would be a much better place with Saddam not in power. He also believes that the war was necessary and has gone on record, saying this live on TV. He however claims that he would have done it without alienating their allies. And I second that. But give Bush the benefit of doubt. His intelligence team had him believe that Saddam had WMDs. Saddam refused to have UN inspectors come inspect his premises. What was Bush to have done then? North Korea was already a threat with a nuclear arsenal that was looking down on major American cities. Was he to sit down and wait till Iraq gained similar capability? He needed to nip the evil in the bud and I guess he took the tough and unpopular decision to do just that. Sometimes leaders need to make decisions that wouldnt exactly win them a popularity contest. The test of a real leader is to stand by that decision of his and the conviction that drives him to it. Bush has the courage to do that and that's why I admire him despite all his projected vices. He believes that he was part of the right war, at the right time, at the right place and that is all that matters.




Bush is an unpopular man because he is the first American president to lose jobs; a point that the film hints at, in a subtle manner. What one doesnt care to see is that he was handed an economy that was already in a state of recession. Will Kerry create jobs? He doesnt have a plan to do so! He promises to give people a tax cut, while he has been a Senator who in 20 years, has voted 98 times in favor of increasing taxes!! He promises to limit outsourcing, which is ironic, coming from the man who is the boss of Heinz!! American foreign policy is going to be an issue that would be a deciding factor in this Presidential Election. And Fahrenheit 9/11 couldnt have come at a better time. The movie has its obvious Democratic leanings and is an inflamatory attack on George W. In the theatre the dumb (but beautiful) girl sitting beside me, was reduced to tears by the movie. "Bast**d" and "Mother F**ker" were some of the choice expletives she used to refer to Bush towards the dying moments of the film. I wonder how much this movie would affect the average American if it could so deeply affect a foreigner at the other end of the globe, who apparently knows nothing about American foreign policy. Which begs the question -- Is Fahrenheit 9/11 political rhetoric of a Democrat inspired reporter, or is it a piece of unbiased journalism? Different people will share different views about this. What do I say? Watch the movie and decide for yourself!

Saturday, October 02, 2004

I am a Visionary Philosopher!!

I just took an IQ test at www.tickle.com and this is what the result of the test said


Congratulations, Sumeet!

Your IQ score is 131




This number is based on a scientific formula that compares how many questions you answered correctly on the Classic IQ Test relative to others.


Your Intellectual Type is Visionary Philosopher. This means you are highly intelligent and have a powerful mix of skills and insight that can be applied in a variety of different ways. Like Plato, your exceptional math and verbal skills make you very adept at explaining things to others — and at anticipating and predicting patterns. And that's just some of what we know about you from your IQ results.


Like Plato, your mind's strengths allow you to think ahead of the game — to imagine or anticipate what should come next in just about any situation. Because you're equally skilled in the numerical and verbal universes of the brain, you can draw from multiple sources of information to come up with great ideas.


Somehow I told you so, just did'nt quite say it !!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The battle of the enigmas

The last couple of days have seen a succession of upsets in the world of cricket. Australia and Pakistan, both favorites to clinch the Champions trophy, were eliminated from the contest by their lesser fancied rivals, England and Pakistan. While I'll come to Pakistan later, England truly showed what great results hard work and determination can achieve. Over the last couple of years Australia's continued domination of world cricket has made it an absolutely boring fray to be in. Vijay thinks this is akin to Michael Schumacher's domination of the F1. World cricket was becoming frustrating to watch with teams competing hard for the No 2 spot, with Australia being untouchable at the No 1 spot. One of the banes of being an English cricketer is the fact that you have to play Australia, whether you like it or not. Perhaps the Aussie aggression has rubbed off on their colonial cousins and I hope we shall soon see England give them a tough time in the Ashes. Before that the Aussies need to cross the "Final Frontier" -- India. And while the Indians haven't been in the best of form, the Aussies would find it difficult to put it across Sourav's boys while they are on home turf, with most of them playing for their places in the team. They would also miss the services of their talismanic captain, Ricky Ponting, who has been ruled out of the initial part of the series with a broken finger.


So much for the Aussies and the Pommies. I guess the West Indians possibly produced a more emphatic display of professional cricket skills today, with their absolute annihilation of Pakistan. Though Shoaib put up a brave resistance on the bowling front, a score of 132 wasn't enough for the lesser bowlers to stand up and defend. I have always regarded the West Indies to be a gifted bunch of cricketers in the shorter version of the game and the fact that they have won 11 of their last 13 run chases is in itself a tribute to their ability. I am sure the form of their middle order would already be giving Steve Harmisson and Co. sleepless nights. This is a final between two teams that havent won much in quite a while and both of them are hungry for success. Towards the beginning of the tournament, Charu Sharma, who is known to have had his foot in his mouth had remarked that England along with Zimbabwe, Kenya and Bangladesh, was the only participating nation that hadnt won an ICC tournament. England would love to prove Charu wrong, yet again! On the other hand the Windies are a team thats been under tremendous criticism and Brian Lara has faced most of it, being captain. They would be eager to put it across the Pommies and join the Aussies as the only other team to have won three ICC tournaments.


A lot of hue and cry has been raised about the belief that Pakistan are a much improved unit under Bob Woolmer. I believe its only a period of time before this bubble bursts. If we look at the result in the past few tournaments closely we will realise that the only test team that Pakistan has beaten in the last 3 tournaments has been India itself. And the fact remains that India were nowhere near even 2nd gear ever since the beginning of this season. Considering that they have been beaten comprehensively by Sri Lanka, Australia and the West Indies, in the last couple of months, I see no reason to classify them as a world beating unit as yet. However all credit does go to Bob Woolmer for bringing this splintered group together and trying to build a cohesive unit. That, with Pakistan, is a really tough job. However, we would need to look at this arrangement for a year at least and then judge how these amazingly talented lads respond to him. Till then, we can only marvel at their mercurial performances and pray that they dont thow matches away with their impulsive attitudes.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Found my Blogger Clients

I found a couple of nice ways of posting to my blog out here. I am now using the post-by-email option. Which effectively means that I assign an email address@blogger.com to send my posts to. And any emails to that address will reflect as posts on my blog. Nifty feature, eh!
Also I found a nice client - BloGTK. It supports a few other services as well, but Blogger being free, I am sticking to this along with my Live Journal Blog.BloGTK can be found here. Looks like I am gonna have some fun here!

Happy Hacking!!

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Shiny afternoon

I decided it was about time I took a look at another blogging service. Blogger seems to be a nice one. Lets see if this one turns into a love affair. I am looking for some Blogger clients for my Linux desktop, in the mean time.
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