Sunday, September 30, 2007

purple laze

laze somehow always reminds me of haze, and hence of jimi hendrix's purple haze :D

anyway...back to topic: people have been noticing that i don't post as often as i used to.

now this is the result of the confluence of many factors, including my new job, weird sleeping habits and other things. but the primary factor is now laziness. in fact it's not even entirely laziness to type out posts - i already have two posts on my cellphone, and all that's left to do is transfer them to my pc, something that takes 5 minutes at max.

i hope this phase of laziness ends soon. blogging is fun only when others can actually read your posts :D

Sunday, September 23, 2007

from dust you are...

of the thousands who died yesterday, i happen to know two. one of them was too old and sick to think of death, the other was too young. i guess it's a reminder that this life is just a journey, and we never know when or where our destination awaits us.

eternal rest grant unto them oh lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

may their souls rest in peace.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

my recursive dream

today was a day of some interesting firsts: i slept for about an hour straight in a training session, i dreamed while sleeping in a training session, i dreamed about being in a training session (scary!), and i dreamed i was sleeping in the training session (phew!!!)

it was a really cool unix-speak, it was as if i forked into two existences, starting off at the same initial state (that of sleeping in the training session), but one of them was the dreaming me, and the other one was me in the dream (which was also sleeping, but my brain was too preoccupied with dreaming to worry about what i was dreaming about in my dream :D)

so yeah, the dream:

it started off with me sleeping in my real-world position (reclining back as far as i could, and resting my head on the edge of my table :P). i wasn't feeling too comfortable in that position, so i tried finding better positions to sleep in (all this, in my dream :D). i finally fell asleep again, this time in a comfortable position.

as i fell asleep (comfortably, this time), someone sitting nearby decided to push my chair for fun. now my chair is one of those with rollers, and pretty good rollers at that. it's very easy to roll along atleast half the training room with just a slight nudge (by the way, i'm a rather enthusiastic fan of that mode of intra-training-room transport :D). so i started getting pushed around from person to person around the room. i remember being eyed by the trainers (they were probably saving it up for use as ammo in my next in-dream review :P). finally, i rolled squarely into one of my batch mates (don't ask who ;) ) and woke up, both in my dream and in the class. fortunately, unlike the way it turned out in my dream, i didn't wake up in my batch mate's lap ;)

if only i remembered the comfortable position.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

random things i noticed last weekend

i did a lot of traveling last weekend. to be more accurate, i just traveled from one end of bombay to another, but these days it feels like a lot :P

one of the nice things about traveling by train (especially during non-rush hours and on holidays) is that you get to observe people and things. if you look hard enough, you're bound to see funny stuff, no matter where you happen to be :) - here's a selection (yeah, i have very selective memory. this is my memory's selection, not mine ;) )

incident 1: off the road

i was walking on the pavement near borivli (a rare phenomenon - i usually defy all logic and sense of self preservation and walk on the road instead), and i saw a middle aged man walking in the opposite direction, on the same pavement.

he falls flat on his face. not a stumbling fall, but a single stroke, wham-on-the-floor-with-no-chance-to-put-your-arms-out one. he drops his bag somewhere nearby. gets back up. a very startled teenage-looking girl picks up his bag and hands it back to him (i know what you're my defense, i was too far away to have helped him up myself :P). guy brushes the dirt off himself and continues walking.

i approached the spot slowly (not wanting to trip on anything myself), and observed it carefully. it was very unremarkable, part of a perfectly even stretch that went on for quite a distance in either direction (quite a rare occurrence, but these patches do exist in bombay, as i just discovered :D).

so in short, this is what happened: a guy just tripped over absolutely nothing, and fell flat on his face while walking on a perfectly even pavement. wow. now that's funny! try visualizing it and you'll be in splits too!!!

incident 2: at the railway station

by way of background, i was on my way from churchgate to parel, standing at the door of the train as usual. the train was just picking up speed on its way out of charni road station.

two women, probably in their twenties, were standing face to face to each other, definitely in huggable range. serious expressions on both their faces.

one woman was pulling the other woman's cheeks downwards.

now i'll need to digress for a moment and discuss conventional cheek-pulling techniques:

the objective of cheek pulling is to either display affection or irritate the recipient, but not cause pain or distort the facial expression of the recipient in a non-cute manner. if the recipient has chubby cheeks, they should briefly exhibit elastic oscillation when released.

now if you've ever pulled someone's cheeks, you'll have realised that the only way to achieve the above effect is by pulling the cheeks outwards and slightly towards you. pulling someone's cheeks downwards neither feels affectionate, nor looks cute. in fact, it's rather painful too.

so in short, i saw someone pulling someone else's cheeks in a non-affectionate, painful way, while standing close to her on a rainway station. trippy!!!

incident 3: revolutionary billboard

there was an interesting looking billboard at platform 1, andheri station. it didn't have a very prominent caption. most of it was taken up by a sketch of two guys, sitting right next to each other (positively sticking to each other, i must say) on what looked like a wall, with their backs to the artist's viewpoint. one guy was slightly taller than the other, and he had his arm around the other guy's shoulder in a fashion that could be best described as "undoubtedly non-heterosexual" :D

i was shocked. since when do people advertise this kind of stuff! i guess i haven't been traveling enough, not meeting enough of the junta. i seem to have missed some real change in attitude here. this isn't even gay rights, this is more like advertising their way of life. wow.

i looked again. this time i spotted the subject of the advertisement. something called mahesh tutorials. i wonder what they were trying to sell ;)

ps: i realise that's a very stereotyped interpretation. blame it on my lack of linguistic ability, my mental retardation or whatever else makes you feel unOffended.

Monday, September 10, 2007

tried and tested ways to make someone not laugh

partly my originals, partly by my friend saurabh (he may have been inspired by this joke blog, i'm too lazy to check :D)

Q: why is a nuke bomb the best way to lose weight?
A: because it's the biggest weapon of mass destruction

Q: why should you keep away from (insert thin person's name here)?
A: because he/she definitely has weapons of mass destruction

Q: if i'm a lion, and you've wounded my 2 lionesses and 5 cubs, then what have you done?
A: you've wounded my pride

Q: if i'm a lion and someone kills my two lionesses and 5 cubs, then what has happened?
A: i've lost my pride

Saturday, September 08, 2007

back to nursery

of all the arbit things i could possibly do on a thursday evening, i found a page with all my favourite nursery rhymes, and my friend and i spent the evening reciting them to each other over the phone.

reliving some memories are too much fun to worry about the 'crazy' tag :) - thanks, sonu

check it out someday. i definitely won't think you're crazy if you do.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

the morning show

the title of this post seems rather perverted to my (very) perverted imagination. i assure you the rest of this post is not ;)

today was an unexpected holiday. no one at work mentioned it till yesterday evening (that too at 5pm, just before we finished for the day). none of my friends working in other companies had a holiday either. now this kind of holiday isn't quite as good as it sounds, because it means you can either hang out with your office buddies, or sit (or sleep :D) at home. anyway, i'm still getting to know the folks at my new office, so i thought it would be a nice idea to hang out with them a bit...and they seem to be pretty cool, and they get cooler by the day :)

end result: i go for a movie at 10:15 am. in a sense, i didn't have much choice as these were my last set of friends who hadn't seen the transformers, cos i missed catching the movie on atleast 3 occasions.

today was the first time i went for the morning show of a movie. it was a surprisingly nice experience. i guess there's something about the whole idea of waking up slightly later than usual (but not 11am, weekend-style :P), and having popcorn for breakfast while enjoying a movie while i'm absolutely fresh and awake. oh and morning shows cost half as much...yayyy!!! and the best part is, you can have lunch right after the movie too. lunch usually takes me atleast an hour (i'm good at spending time over nothing, especially when i'm with certain friends :)). so then, that takes pretty much most of the boredom out of the holiday :D

the only problem left is finding enough holidays. and that's quite a problem, unless i start waking up at 9am on weekends. and manage atleast one or two of my friends to do so too. and get them to actually wake up. i guess it's worth it.

i guess everything except drinking and dancing feel better when done in the morning ;)

Sunday, September 02, 2007

orkut phishing attempt

beware of the site - it's a phishing site that attempts to lure orkut users.

i received the link from someone on my orkut friends list, and it was a url that had an id at the end which identified my username, so i'm assuming it could figure out my username from the link.

based on the information i have, here's how it works:

  1. users are presented with a screen identical to orkut's login screen

  2. on signing in, the site opens its own connection to

  3. it scrapes orkut for all available information (don't have any details on that) about the compromised user and his/her friends

  4. it then sends out a unique message to all of the user's friends, asking them to view the site. it gives a unique url, so it knows which user clicked the link, and even displays the username in the login box, the way google does

  5. if anyone is fooled by this and logs in, the process continues from step 2

reasons why you should be concerned:

  • your google account isn't used ony for orkut, but also for a lot of other things like gMail, gTalk, blogger, personalised search (freaky!!!), gReader...the list goes on!!!

  • many orkut users put up private information such as their date of birth, address, telephone numbers, etc on their orkut profiles and make the information visible to only their friends, assuming that friends can be trusted not to misuse the information. that assumption is not valid anymore, now that this phishing site can also act on behalf of your friends (i'm a victim of this assumption too...and i still don't know how much info has been leaked. it's very scary)

  • the worst part is that one person's ignorance can lead to leaking private information of all his/her friends, without their control at all, and they have no easy means of preventing it, short of deleting that information from the site

  • you probably don't have your credit card number posted on your orkut profile, but you've probably received some mail or the other from your bank/credit card company. if you use gMail, and archive all your mail (just like i do) can do the math :)

steps to prevent this:

  • always look at the address in the address bar before signing in. phishing attempts usually use similar URLs, so you may need to look carefully.

  • never enter your login info on any third party site, no mater what that site claims to do for you. i have endless friends who have done such things, usually for the sake of automatically inviting all their friends to some new social networking site. what they don't realise is that the addresses and all other details of all their friends (including the ones who didn't join up) are stored in a database somewhere, awaiting further abuse

  • do not click on links starting with a "javascript:" in the URL. this is rather tricky, since you may need to hover your mouse over the link and look it up in the status bar of your browser. quick and dirty, but not foolproof.

  • the safest precaution when clicking links on a site that contains your confidential info is to copy the link (usually right click -> "copy link" does the trick) and paste it into your address bar. if it contains "javascript:", or if it links to an external site and contains a "?" somewhere in the link, do not hit enter and open it. this only applies to user posted links (links in scraps/messages/emails/blogs/blog comments/profiles etc)

  • for the above mentioned suspicious links, (atleast the ones containing a ?), try opening the link in a new browser window, and delete everything starting from the ? to then end of the link. that ensures that the new site cannot identify who you are or where you came from.

  • read for more anti phishing, anti spamming and hoax spotting techniques

  • last of all, but definitely most important, when in doubt, DON'T CLICK!!!!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

the hare and the tortoise

just about everyone has read the story "the hare and the tortoise" sometime in their childhood. it was one of those stories that could probably be written in 3 lines in 9 point arial, but still was entertaining to read for a little kid. and it had a moral: "slow and steady wins the race"

i accepted the moral of that story the same way as i accepted the morals of all the other stories i had read as a kid. however, the moral of that story was quite different from the others i read. most of the stories had a rather intuitive moral at the end: one swallow doesn't make the summer, a bird in hand is worth two in the get the drift. not this one though. slow and steady wins the race. what kind of moral is that!!!

fast wins the race. maybe not too fast cos you'll get breathless and dizzy and pass out on the roadside, but definitely fast :D. slow doesn't quite make sense. if i walked in a race when everyone else ran i'll definitely finish last. that was pretty obvious to me, even back then when i was 4 years old :P

as time passed and the years made me older, somewhat wiser and definitely more street smart, i found my own winning strategy: run, but don't push myself to the limit. probably more like jogging than running. save my energy for the end, and finally when the end is in sight, give it everything i've got, and hopefully finish at or near the top. as the years wore on and i got more tuned to my limits, i managed to pace myself so that my jogging was effortless to the point of me feeling i wasn't even in the race...and come finish, i suddenly shoot off and take everyone (including myself :P) by surprise. i also found the amount of time i need to run to win the race (which is amazingly short, by the way :)

i've lost a couple of times, but those were errors of judgment, not strategy. thankfully, i accepted everything i heard when i was a kid, even though "slow and steady" didn't quite fit in with "fast but not too fast". unfortunately, "fast but not too fast" worked very well for me. so well, in fact, that i pretty much forgot about "slow and steady". until 20 years later, i.e. yesterday.

here's the story: programming assignment. simple problem. instructor says he could do it in 15 minutes. we are given two and a half hours. elegance and optimization weren't the criteria - "it should work" was. it was a problem i've solved before, and not just once. in fact, it was a problem that i've handed out to my own students when i used to teach in a computer institute many years ago. it wasn't quite a race, since everyone who finished won. there were quite a few tortoises who were placing bets on whether i would finish in 15 minutes or 20. i guess they lost their money, and i lost the race.

so much for "fast but not too fast". of course, i could also argue that "one swallow doesn't make the summer", and that i shouldn't make undue haste to throw away my tried and tested strategy in favour of being the tortoise. to be fair, i wasn't just running the race, i was also doing back flips (read "interspersing my code with funny comments" ;)) and picking up tortoises who wandered off the track and putting them back on their way. still, that's no excuse for losing the race. i think i should rethink my strategy. it's very sad, losing a race like that. i can imagine how that hare felt. i feel pretty rotten about my own race too.

i'm probably gonna have to answer some pretty uncomfortable questions on monday morning. i just hope my instructors don't remember "the hare and the tortoise" all too well :D

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