< September 2005 >
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Fri, 30 Sep 2005:

I finally finished watching, School of Rock. It's a good movie, but more like an improbable underdog story. Except for one bit - the part where they don't actually win the Battle of the Bands. I always liked Jack Black, especially his work in High Fidelity, Mars Attacks and Shallow Hal to name a few.

Anyway, I ended up feeling very awake even after having finished the first movie. So I pulled out Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I ended up practically rolling on the floor laughing, though it wasn't the floor - because I was sitting on my bed. Wish you could've seen me when I was watching the Swedish subtitles go crazy in steps, ending up with this :-

Anyway, the story is full of jokes at various levels. For example, the joke about the horse riding sounds using coconuts sorts of vanishes as it goes on. But the European vs African swallows, air-speed velocity just becomes funny when they get to the bridge. Or even the political jokes are much funnier. Watch...

ARTHUR:  Well, we all are.  We are all Britons, and I am your king.
WOMAN:  I didn't know we had a king.  I thought we were an autonomous 
ARTHUR:  Please!  Please, good people.  I am in haste.  Who lives in that castle?
WOMAN:  No one lives there.
ARTHUR:  Then who is your lord?
WOMAN:  We don't have a lord.
ARTHUR:  What?
DENNIS:  I told you.  We're an anarcho-syndicalist commune.  We take it 
         in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week, but 
         all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special
         bi-weekly meeting by a simple majority in the case of purely 
         internal affairs, but by a two-thirds majority in the case of 
         more major--
ARTHUR:  Be quiet!  I order you to be quiet!
WOMAN:  Order, eh?  Who does he think he is?  Heh.
ARTHUR:  I am your king!
WOMAN:  Well, I didn't vote for you.
ARTHUR:  You don't vote for kings.
WOMAN:  Well, how did you become King, then?

[Arthur explains about Excalibur and the lady of the lake]

DENNIS:  I mean, if I went 'round saying I was an emperor just because 
         some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away!
ARTHUR:  Shut up, will you?  Shut up!
DENNIS:  Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system.
ARTHUR:  Shut up!

There's only one way this could be funnier. When someone incidentally posts something that refers to this.

The jokes just keep on coming. Like the part about the holy grail

ARTHUR:  Go and tell your master that we have been charged by God with a 
         sacred quest.  If he will give us food and shelter for the night, 
         he can join us in our quest for the Holy Grail.
FRENCH GUARD:  Well, I'll ask him, but I don't think he'll be very keen.  
         Uh, he's already got one, you see.
ARTHUR:  What?
GALAHAD:  He says they've already got one!
ARTHUR:  Are you sure he's got one?
FRENCH GUARD:  Oh, yes.  It's very nice-a.  (I told him we already got one.)
FRENCH GUARDS:  [chuckling]
ARTHUR:  Well, u-- um, can we come up and have a look?

Then there's the part about Sir Galahad and eight score young blondes and brunettes, all between sixteen and nineteen-and-a-half, cut off in this castle with no one to protect us, the Knights who say Ni ! who want shrubberies, the part where Sir Lancelot accidentaly saves the groom from an unwanted marriage ROTFL, the Bridge of Death where Galahad fails to answer What is your favourite color ? . And finally the end of the movie when the knights are arrested and a policeman puts a hand over the camera. Monty Python just rocks !!.

In other good new, tum has appeared with the Xsharp flicker free patches which are going into CVS right away. Solves one issue.

My next blog is a Mercedes.

posted at: 05:33 | path: /movies | permalink | Tags:

Thu, 29 Sep 2005:

On #dotgnu, radekp mentioned that he had got Xacc to work partly on Portable.net's Windows.Forms. We had had a lot of trouble with the caret drawing code in sharpdevelop when we tried porting it. But Xacc code is much well written. In fact leppie who wrote Xacc is the same leppie who has had commit access on pnet for a year now and despite his promises that I'll huff, I'll puff, we haven't even had a moderate breeze out of that chap. Anyway, radekp has got the stuff working on pnet and posted a build, screenshots and bugs to fix. Even the code analysis and browsing works along with the syntax highlighter - as you can see the Add method being highlighted below.

Xacc running on Portable.net

Radek has been asking about Double Buffering implementation details. The current DoubleBuffer.cs is built on top of X11 Double Buffering Extensions. The implementation is fairly solid, but the code runs through an XClearArea in the repaint code path. I am trying to find out what exactly tum had pushed up for review a few months back to fix that issue.

<tum> rhysw: do you want to look at my xsharp flickerfree patches?
<tum> i'm wondering if they should be checked into cvs.  
      the xsharp changes are "non breaking" - i.e. unless you set a 
      certain property, xsharp functions as before
<rhysw> what exactly does "flickerfree" do?
<tum> avoids calling XClearArea which causes the xserver to draw the 
      background color -- which is what causes the flickering because 
      it bypasses the double buffer

I'll have to sit through and fix this bug all over again when I have time. Sad, isn't it ?.

posted at: 09:10 | path: /dotgnu | permalink | Tags:

Tue, 27 Sep 2005:

Ever since nb has sort of disappeared from sight (or more correctly - email and irc), we've been having problems running the dotgnu.org servers. The servers are still functional, but we have no contact point if something has to be done on those. Even the getdotgnu.com has vanished along with DoctorNick. I do have sudo access on those boxes, but I cannot remember my password (which was incidentally written on a yellow post-it on the wall at home). Thanks to ssh keys, I can still log in and watch the logs, though not much more - maybe I should look at some local root exploits ;).

Sunday afternoon we had scheduled a meeting on #dotgnu, though I was running around at toolz's along with the planet.foss.in activities. But the summary of the discussions were posted to the mailing list. Thankfully the DNS domain names are kept by FSF and don't need any handing over. And the website content is actually in Savannah CVS and mirrored in lots of places. skwashd suggested that we currently move into the phpgroupware.org box and sort of set up a collection box (or ask for sponsors) for the server.

Ever since early Jan, Rhys has been just building model planes and working full time at TrollTech instead of coding on pnet like a good boy should. My contributions of late have been patch reviews and not really coding. All in all, most of the current dev is being left to the able hands of klausT and newl. I just hope I can got LCA to meet up with rhysw, ajmitch, newl and tum to actually get somethings straight.

When you've worked for four straight years on something, you find it very hard to actually drop the project. Portable.net is still the only peice of code I've written that I'm actually proud of. I can understand how mothers must feel about their kids moving out.

posted at: 19:27 | path: /dotgnu | permalink | Tags:

Mon, 26 Sep 2005:

When shakespeare said Best laid plans of mice and men I don't think he realized that a few centuries later someone in a movie would say -

Slartibartfast: The best laid plans of mice, eh ?
Arthur: I think it goes "best laid plans of mice and men"..
Slartibartfast: I don't men had anything to do about it

If there's one joke worth seeing in the movie it was this. Unless you consider the part where Arthur walks into the shower and finds Trillian. Of course, the first thing trillian says is Can you hand me a towel ? - for which Arthur is well prepared (h2g2: Towel).

I mean how many times in life are you going to walk in a pretty girl (pretty, not sexy hot) bathing and expect her to ask YOU for a towel. But it does prove one thing - know where your towel is.

And the Book UI just rocks !. You have to see how the menu works like a unfolding ladder. The twin tone thumb logo is just too cool for words - somehow it reminded me of the NASA logo. And the part of the book which explains about vogons is amazing, I've never actually pictured how the triplicate and the lost in peat part works - nor the grandmother and bug blatter beast in the background. It's like those old disney movies where goof learns dancing from a book. The same blueprint background with alice blue lines. The part about the hyperspace, the respectable physicists living below the party floor. It JUST ROCKS !!.

The rest I've got to say is less than complementary. Zaphod has only one head.. trillian is not even faintly arabic .. marvin looks like a stupid kid. Marvin's voice is good, but the point about marvin was that he was a supremely capable robot who was wasted. Always thought of Ford as an actor wannabe - good looking, smooth talking ... in short so NOT Mos Def. Maybe Chris Tucker could've pulled it off.

The part about trillian wanting to go madagascar, the heart of gold being a sphere (it was oblong, never a sphere). Zaphod knows about magrathea and Deep Thought before they reach there. Sort of writes over the hidden compulsions joke that Douglas had worked so hard on. And Deep Thought was in a room with a deep male bass voice, not a BBC announcer female voice.

The Pan Galactic gargle blaster was murdered ... being served in tiny cocktail glasses. I always imagined a long island iced tea approach to it - so much so that you can't finish one easily. The towel was also grossly misused, with the part about running under laser gunfire with a wet towel. The vogon spaceships weren't yellow enough. And here's the Killer

* Arthur gets a cup of brown liquid like tea
Arthur: Ugh !
Trillian: I should've said it resembles tea.

Totally destroyed that joke. Of course it wouldn't have carried well into the film - but at least the Share and enjoy could've made it a lot more fun.

Also some random stuff like the citrus juicer on a cap - who the hell thought of that. Zaphod signing the destruction of earth, with no mention of Gag Halfrunt.. ZB could've been persuaded to destroy Earth. Not Loves and Kisses approach. And why the hell did they fill out a form to save Trillian, why not take the usual rush in and get captured approach.

There were some reedeming points as well. For example, the ayers rock being painted red by a guy or the John Malkovich wiping his glasses and how the eyes are only painted on (wow !!). A space ship escape pod which looked like a Mini complete with windshield wipers. Vogons actually smashing jewelled crabs and sitting on gazelles with broken backs. The Idea swatter field protecting vogosphere was a very original idea (*smack*, ouch..) . The portal which Arthur fails to jump through (typical british indecision joke) makes more sense than just leaving him to guard the tunnel. But I always imagined Slartibartfast as a nordic dude rather than as a muttering briton - who messes up the Are you happy ?. No, that's where it all breaks down by repeating it in a monotone rather than true misery.

Lastly, why the hell did the dolphins come back ?. I thought they were missing in Earth Mk II totally ?.

All in all, I'm glad I saw it .. but I can almost hear Douglas Adams saying Bet you miss me now ! .

posted at: 17:02 | path: /slashdot | permalink | Tags:

Thu, 22 Sep 2005:
Very recently I read a small quote about how educational discipline makes people think differently.
Physicists see equations as a reflection of reality.
Engineers see reality as a reflection of equations.
Mathematicians haven't made the connection.

It somehow struck me as being coincidental that I always thought of range of a projectile as an equation rather than the equation belonging to the range of the projectile. In fact the equation is an approximate prediction minus all the effects of wind, friction and totally ignoring bernoulli's principle. In other words I had just realized that I am an engineer.

A couple of years ago I wrote a rather controversial (well, at least for the people who read it) commentary about Engineers in general called Now, that's odd. According to most people who read it, it sort of describes me - not a generic engineer. Read it, if you are not my parents, sisters or co-workers. And weep.

Anyway, one thing is true - Engineers usually have lots of solutions in search of a problem. For example, I want to do something with FireFox - but I have no problems with the way it works right now. We're all full of solutions, we just need somebody's problems.

Cue the engineer, physicist, and mathematician jokes.

posted at: 14:25 | path: /slashdot | permalink | Tags:

Tue, 20 Sep 2005:

Do you pack your bags ?. I sure as hell don't. I just push in an extra jeans, a couple of tees and a toothbrush into a backpack and I'm done. For this particular reason, I maintain a small wardrobe at my grandparent's and at my parent's. Technically I could show up at Cochin with just a toothbrush and have everything I need. Considering how many times I've forgotten a toothbrush while visiting shows how much care I put into packing.

To put things in context, I showed up in Delhi on friday night with my backpack. Unpacking, I realized that gee toto, I don't think we're in kansas anymore. I barely had anything to wear at night, only one change of tee shirt, an ironed full-shirt, two polyester pants and the clothes I was wearing. On the other hand, I did have my toothbrush, charger, USB hdd, a simputer, mp3 player and 4 AAA batteries. I'd have felt naked without those - clothes or no clothes.

The long and short of it is that I showed up on the second day of FreeDel wearing a tucked in white shirt and blue jeans. I'm not that conscious of my clothes, but when everyone around asks Gopal !!.. ironed and tucked in ?. What happened ? - you can't ignore it that easily. Anyway Yahoo came to the rescue with a T-shirt - so I looked even more corporate but at least nobody was saying anything.

On top of all this, my talk was post lunch. I was talking compilers while half the audience just sat there gaping. But I didn't actually go there to just talk - my other hidden agenda was also satisfied. I can now put faces on all those nicks on IRC - OldMonk, BigBeard, shaitaan, viyyer. Cool customers all, especially OldMonk (he doesn't drink now, but he is called OldMonk for a reason). I crashed at BigBeard's place and had discussions about all sorts of stuff. I even got a bunch of them hooked on Coupling.

Another person I met, but didn't really talk to was Anjuta. A quiet woman who barely spoke. But we made fun of Naba with stuff like : What's the name of your next project ? ...

All in all, one weekend I won't forget ... There is nothing dry about ILUG-D, humour notwithstanding !!

posted at: 19:54 | path: /slashdot | permalink | Tags:

Sat, 10 Sep 2005:
As one generation moves slowly into adulthood, another one is sneaking back into the dust from whence it came. Last few years have not been kind on my family - a few deaths couldn't be said as unexpected. But on this thurdsay, my grandfather's younger brother suddenly decided to bid us goodbye - breathtakingly suddenly.

My first encounter with death was the death of my great grand father. We sort of shared a special connection, I was the first great-grandson he ever had. He was a teacher by profession and a perfectionist - one thing he never demanded from me. He'd initiated me into writing and always maintained that none of his had ever gone wrong - even when I was a failure in all eyes but his. He died one fine day in 1992, I didn't even reach cochin in time for his cremation. His arm-chair still remains, for me to sit on as the eldest of the family once more - in a few decades maybe.

Next to vanish was my great grandmother. I always remember her as being always hunched back, sharp tongue and amazingly intelligent. The sort of wispy woman who seems to walk around purely on the basis of will alone. Her death was the first time I realized what death was - she's not coming back. Walking into a courtyard seeing my uncles cut out her golden bangles before cremation was almost carved into my memory.

A few years later, my paternal grandmother makes a distinguished exit from the world. She was one of the strongest women I have known - mentally. Our family is blessed with women who have been known to step up to challenge and take it head on. Anyway, she had pretty much brought me up since I was 3 and I didn't know what to say when she died. I couldn't even cry. I understood why and hows of her death - but still couldn't believe that someone like her could be replaced. She is mourned - but I remember her for what she made out of me. I still carry her fire and brimstone, though my sister carries the most of it - the cold determination which make any parent cringe or any child obey.

For the next few years, I never even thought about Death. You are young, in your teens and just getting to terms with yourself, hardly any time to philosophize about Death. Then I got a job, became a responsible Son and just lived from day to day, never thinking about what I did the next day, nor rememeber what I did the previous.

2004 April, I fly home to celeberate Vishu. Of all the people I meet on my usual rounds, only one has changed beyond recognition. My mother's aunt was unexpectly bald and eyebrows greying. She was under chemotherapy. As I bid goodbye to her, I told her that I'll be back for Onam.. and she sort of non-comittedly said that "I don't know.. I just don't know". July third week, the unthinkable happened - I got news in Hyderabad that she had just died at around 2 PM that day. I jump on Bangalore bus at around 5:30, reaching there in the morning - the next bus to Cochin at 12:20 and reaching there at 3 AM. I was utterly shocked by the suddeness of the death, I had seen her happily making pookalams the previous Onam, looking at her grandchildren and playing with them. And a year down the line, she's just gone. She was in a lot of pain from the cancer that death was probably a merciful release - but I cannot still deal with the fact that someone could just disappear like that.

And then came another death, but that was almost expected. She was 91 years old and has been blind for 20 years now. She was lingering on just due to a sort of desire to stay alive - I wouldn't call it will. Anyway, that didn't shock me.

But the latest one has shocked me, mainly because of my memories of this particular person. I remember seeing him hold a flowerpot in his hand and light it or a rocket launched by holding it. Never a man to shy away from any risk. We always went around to him, because he always had lemonade in his fridge. A literary master, who spent his time tutoring students in malayalam. The sort of guy who sits in a chair and talks mainly. Unlike my grandfather who was constantly walking and still at the age of 74 prefers to stand rather than sit.

All this made me wonder about how I will die. I spent my last night (no.. no.. not in that sense.. AAAAH !) dreaming of being chased and killed in around 23 different ways. But at least I didn't just give up and die - at least in the dream. It is quite interesting when you realize how being poked in your left belly by a pickpocket you chased feels like - in a dream. It's no less painful nor is it foolish when you think of what you had to give up in the chase for 397 Rs in cash and a company ID card. But I must live, because - and here I quote ..

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
The grim reaper takes no prisoners - or at least we hope he treats the dead with more respect. The circle of life continues - a new generation has entered and it's exit left for the older. All world's a stage and all that - let me play my role till the fat lady sings.

posted at: 11:56 | path: /slashdot | permalink | Tags:

Thu, 08 Sep 2005:
Two years out of college and I've not really left it behind. I'm still pretty much the same - unshaven, wrinkled shirts, jeans, late mornings and hanging out after. I'm still so much in college, except that I get paid every month and I get an exam once a month or so. But the life of some of my classmates on the other hand has changed dramatically.

A bunch of them got married and now two baby girls to show for that. And then we had this poll which said "who would be the first Daddy in our class", as all of those who are married/engaged are girls. There are two types of guys who get married young - the kind that rides mom's apron strings and the kind who are in a hurry to make it official. Most mothers want to get a girl to look after her boy, as if twenty odd guys aren't capable of looking after themselves (maybe they do have a point, but I'll be dead and buried before I admit it on the record). If you can't trust your mother to pick shirts for you, would you trust her to pick a wife ?.

Russell Peters: I know she's a little big for you right now, but you'll grow into her.

Jokes aside, I have almost always hated my mother's picks on shirts - while she has loved (or at least had the decency to pretend) that she liked my picks. I'm not too creative, I just pick a blue saree with florals - not much could go wrong that way.


You know what the problem is ?. I have too many cousins sisters. Before you laugh out loud, let me explain. In my world view from the times I was knee high to almost everything around, girls have been something that incessantly makes noises, bites or kicks you if you sleep late in the morning. Eighteen odd years later, my newest cousins - they still have the habit of punching me in the face, sometime around 9 in the morning.

Anyway, I do respect and care for girls - but I'm permanently in Big Brother mode. Most single children and even those who have a sibling have no idea how strong this compulsion is. This makes me do a bunch of stupid things, which is usually interpreted by girls as coming onto them - which leads to very uncomfortable and difficult situations.

Life isn't so bad - I get free coffee, bandwidth and wrist pain for doing almost nothing but sit around and code. It's something I already do for free, it does feel cheapened when you get paid for it. You can't put a price tag on satisfaction, like that eight-ball in the corner pocket.

posted at: 11:25 | path: /slashdot | permalink | Tags:

Mon, 05 Sep 2005:
Take a basic premise. Follow down the straight and narrow path it leads. Reach a dead end and prove that the guy who thought of the premise was just plain wrong. If you ever thought that this was for just your high school math class, you thought wrong. Reduction Ad Absurdum works very well with rational people with strong opinions. Literally twisting their opinions to make them defend a logically irrational position is almost too easy often. Consider the following short skit.

The story is a true one. And by true I mean, I watched it on TV. And By TV I mean, that it was a cartoon show that was rated MA due to explicit content - South Park episode Christian Rock Hard from Season 7.

Stan, Kyle and Kenny are trying to get their parents to give them 300 $ to buy CDs for inspiration. Kenny says that they can download songs off the internet for free. Before they can even finish downloading the music, FBI come through the window and arrest them. They are shown how horrible their acts of piracy are.

* they are standing in front of a huge white mansion, near a heated 
swimming pool where a guy's sitting with his head in between his hands...

FBI: You see that ?.. That is metallica's drummer's house
Kyle: what's wrong with him
FBI: He wanted a gold plated floating mini bar, but he can't have it for 
     a few more months because of kids like you downloading music off the 

FBI: That is Britney Spear's private jet. That's a GulfStream 3, she wanted 
     a GulfStream 4. This one doesn't even have a remote for the 3-D 
     surround DVD player entertainment center.

FBI: Here we see Mister P playing with his little kid. Next week's that 
     kid's birthday, all he has ever wanted is an island paradise in french 
Kyle: He'll get it , won't he ?
FBI: No... he won't get it till christmas
Kids: NOO.. we didn't really know 
FBI: That is the folly of man. These stars are forever fated to live a life 
     of only semi-luxury, due to kids like you downloading music off the 

Anyway the guys (their band Moop) end up striking, refusing to play till the downloading stops. Various artists like Metallica and Courtney Love join Moop - in the meantime Cartman's rival band (carefully designed to dupe the Christian pious public with Rock songs with lots of 'jesus' in it) sell a million records. Stan realizes that he is missing the point about the strike and calls it off saying.

Stan: don't you guys see .. we've forgotten what we did all this for - 
      The Music. Moop is not about just money anymore, we're about music. 
      Who's with me ?.
Artists: naah.. we're just about the money.

Satire works better than the naked truth. It points out what isn't said. But it is sad that those who pick it up, already know what you were talking about. It's a sort of we know too acknowledgement, not communication in true form. But you can't say it isn't funny :)

posted at: 16:46 | path: /slashdot | permalink | Tags: