Monday, December 15, 2008

A Tribute to Daffy Duck

I've always liked cartoons that were on TV when I was a kid. Today's kids are unlucky in my opinion. The ones during our (assuming you are the same group as mine) times were a real treat. Tom & Jerry, Flintstones, Bugs Bunny, Road Runner Show, Sylvester and Tweety, Dexter's Laboratory, Daffy Duck and so many more. How do Kim Possible, Ben 10, Naruto or Pokeman compare to them?

Even though they were toons, they were closer to reality. With a tad of impossibility for humour and themes you could relate to. Overall a great way to pass time and relax.

Over the past few months, I've been getting nostalgic with the cartoons of our age.They would appear on my desktop background or IM display image. I've been stuck with Daffy for a long time now.

The thing that stuck me about Daffy, is his character; the way he always tries to control things to his advantage and ends up making a fool of himself. The way he is cunning, eccentric, self-centred and a bit vile sometimes. Managing to goof up everything he plans, never learning from his clumsy work and yet being comical will forever be etched in my mind. Perhaps, he was a success (as a cartoon character that sold) because people were able to relate to his demeanour and less because of his rant and the insolent laughter.

Later on in Daffy's career, he was placed along with Bugs Bunny. The cartoon was now more enticing than ever. Daffy's greedy, aggressive manner was a stark contrast to Bugs' thinking, cool disposition. I simply love the combination. One episode with "Duck season! (R)Wabbit season!" is quite unforgettable for me.

Yet, beyond all this, it was one particular picture of Daffy that makes me so attached to it. It has been my profile pic on orkut (ya, I know that's violating rules!) and my desktop background on my system at work. It is very true that a picture speaks a thousand words; this one tells everything about Daffy. Everything I've said above, and more. Here it is:

Daffy duckyou're despicable!


This pic has been a morale booster, kind of an inspiration. I love you Daffy! You shall remain my 'avatar' forever! (Hope Warner Bros Looney Toons don't sue me).


PS: This is totally irrelevant to the post, but I just added some fish to my blog. Please feed them! :)

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Glitch or gibberish?

Here's an interesting case of how iPhone can jeopardize marriages. A friend forwarded this in a mail. Its a case of how a husband took a "raunchy" picture of himself and mailed it to some female. While his 'Sent Items' claims this, the guy claims it is an iPhone bug! So the wife, who doesn't want to believe him, but still is open to it being iPhone's fault, got onto Apple discussion forums and decided to ask people. This is what followed.

I do wonder what happened to the couple and feel sorry for that female. Personally, I don't think this is a real iPhone bug, however, I did notice something very similar can be done with Thunderbird (my favourite mail client). Similar in the sense of getting a mail in your Sent folder or (Inbox itself) that you never sent! See screencast below: Sorry folks, I couldn't embed the screencast here, If you're interested, you can see here (SWF).

Here's what I did. I have two mail accounts set up on TBird, Gmail and my work email. Now, I select some random mail from one of the accounts (say gmail) and drag-drop it inside my work email's inbox. Now, my gmail (webmail) account shows the same mail as if it was sent to the account. Of course, the 'To' address field hasn't been modified, but it looks identical to case of being in 'Bcc' when the mail was sent.

I don't think this feature can affect businesses (though it is quite easy to modify the 'To' etc fields using some software) however, it can be used as jokes on your friends or if you want to cut out someone from your life....

Coming back to the troubled lady's case, I have shown that these things can be made to happen but I do not know what the chances of all these happening on its own are. But its not impossible; improbable but not impossible.

Update: The husband seems to have gone as far as creating a new account on Apple Discussions to reply to his 'wife' that he (ie some 3rd person) has also experienced similar problems :P
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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Education!

Arun, I disagree with you! You can tell your cop about it and make him happy!

The Indian education system rocks! The purpose of education is to get one geared up to face the problems of day-to-day life!

I realized this today after I fixed my wardrobe. Since the recent rains, the drawers in them had gone a bit moist (No. My house ain't leaking, it was general moisture in the corner of my room) and the screws came loose. I had to spend more time pushing the drawer back in the right direction than doing what it was opened for! This is when my carpentry skills kicked in!! Thanks to the esteemed Anna University and its prescribed syllabus for the first semester, I could easily wield the hammer, nails, screws and screwdrivers!

The thought that my education had helped me had come afterwards. Immediately after this, I had visual recollections of my first semester Workshop lab viva voce. Mr.Muniraj (name changed for my privacy), gently took the steel ruler from my hands and checked if I had ever bothered reading the backside. He asked me, "How many centimetres to an inch?" "2.54 sir" "sure? 2.54 or 2.5400?" (because that how it was printed on the ruler) "they're the same sir (smile)" "good good. tell me, why are you doing carpentry and welding? you are a computer science student no?" "[er because AU made my dad spend so that I could make a living] because, sir, I am an engineer and an engineer should have knowledge of everything [,even clean drainages perhaps?]" "ver-ry good!! you can go".

Now I regret having had thoughts like that. Atleast I didn't speak them...
Now that carpentry proved useful, how else was education useful?
Back in school, my cousin was taught how to use Star Office. Now, he's using the skills he developed from school, to help his professor type of lectures, documents etc and he's making a living! (I guess many of the MS in US people are doing much the same)

And then, it was at school where we learnt to do C++ program for Fibonacci series program, it helped me clear my job interview!
Happy learning!

PS: Do share any such experiences in the comments!
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Intrepid Ibex

in·trep·id [in-trep-id] :

–adjective
resolutely fearless; dauntless: an intrepid explorer.

-synonyms
brave, courageous, bold.

i·bex [ahy-beks]:

noun, plural i·bex·es, ib·i·ces [ib-uh-seez, ahy-buh-]
any of several wild goats of the genus Capra, inhabiting mountainous regions of Eurasia and North Africa, having long, recurved horns.

Ubuntu has always followed this naming scheme; adjective followed by some animal. The past releases, in reverse order, were Hardy Heron, Gutsy Gibbon, Feisty Fawn, Edgy Eft, Dapper Drake. Each release has a gap of approximately 6 months between them. The version numbers are, derived from the year and the month of release. For example, Ibex will be 2008.10.30.


Intrepid is officially releasing on 30th Oct 2008. Below is a count(down)er (and the primary purpose of this post)



I've been using Ubuntu since Dapper and have found it a more than satisfactory substitute OS to M$'s windoz. And its always got better since then. Do give it a shot. You can even pre-order a free CD here. (Please. Please. Don't make an order unless you know what you're going to do with it or not going to do anything at all. But it is worth a try)

The naming is quite appropriate. Especially, comparing it with an Ibex. These are Mark Shuttleworth's own words:

During the 8.10 cycle we will be venturing into interesting new
territory, and we'll need the rugged adventurousness of a mountain
goat to navigate tricky terrain. Our desktop offering will once
again be a focal point as we re-engineer the user interaction model
so that Ubuntu works as well on a high-end workstation as it does on
a feisty little subnotebook. We'll also be reaching new peaks of
performance - aiming to make the mobile desktop as productive as
possible.

A notable improvement will be pervasive internet access. Wherein you can roam(like a goat does) while Ubuntu automatically hooks onto whatever bandwidth is available across different wireless technologies. Also, what's special about this release is that a developer conference played a key role in drawings its blue print; There has been a sudden burst of contribution through this conference, from artists and developers to translators and advocates.

On why this release is important to me. I currently have Hardy, incrementally upgraded from Feisty. There have been too many packages installed, improperly removed, broken etc in them. I've been waiting for this release to start anew with Ubuntu. I'm planning a minimal install which will help my box's humble computing power. :-)

My friend Vishal, who's been trying Ubuntu beta releases for the past two, says he's pretty happy with what he sees and recommends it for people switching to GNU/Linux.

I welcome Ibex!

PS: The next release Jaunty Jackalope is expected to give Ubuntu users a jaunty boot up experience! w00t!!
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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Not guilty!

To hell with Uleadin and his post!

I spent half an hour going through my comments; counting them.

This is what I've found,


Post
Female : Male commentators
Its a dog's life 3:2
Early Bird Gets the Worm 2:1
How to...Why is... 4:3
Petrol - The Elixir of Life! 2:3
Idiot Totalica 4:1
The Uncertainty Principle 3:6
Firefox 3 - The best yet! 3:4
False fueling 2:4
Open Sesame 3:3
A New Unit of Fuel Efficiency 4:3
Orion 1:2
A collage of phrases and idioms 1:2
A trip down the IT high(and low) way... 1:2
ATM - Automatic Turn-off by Microsoft 3:11

That totals to 36:47. 36 females to 47 males commenting on my blog! Hail statistics!

Looking at them however, I haven't got too many comments per post. Sigh.
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Monday, October 06, 2008

Its a dog's life

I used to drive to work on OMR daily. Often, I find a stubborn pile of rubbish in the middle of the road; on closer inspection it invariably turned out to be a dog. Run over. Squashed. Dead.

Its quite a gory sight, mind. Many a times you'd find their guts pushed out or even massacred beyond recognition. I have never seen it actually happen, though am sure it would have been terrible for them. The thing is, I have been taking the OMR for over 4 years now and have noticed such accidents only since they started with the new road. It was quite understandable when only one side of the road was usable, but on a road broader than ECR...that's bad!

Whom do we blame? Drunk drivers? Sleepless cleaners driving? Racing enthusiasts? Or the dogs?

What's worse is, I don't see the Corporation or Municipality removing the carcass. Even the scavenging crows don't get a chance with vehicles zipping past every second. Wonder what diseases it can spread....Of what I've noticed, the body is run over and over by vehicles, until its totally worn off and vanishes from the road...uuggghh...however, a few days later, the spot is spot-less!

I have never seen anyone hit-and-run a dog, neither do I want to. But lets be safe on the road, its not just humans who are involved in accidents. After all, its a dog's life...
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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Early Bird Gets the Worm

I have a friend. One who likes to dream she is a bird (a crow, I often suggest) is quiet addicted to her office canteen. People prefer chit-chat, this girl prefers chat-chat.

She often boasts of taking a break from work and running to her cafeteria to grab a quick chat.

I am told, that the canteenwala is the best she has tasted in Chennai, so much that she never misses having a snack-a-day. Oh, did I tell you she makes sure she's the first to queue up outside the counter there? She'll do anything to be there first. Atleast one of the first. There aren't any prizes or concessions for early-birds, just self-satisfaction.

This trend of hers is now a thing of the past. You know why?
No, she didn't run out of money.
No, the chat guy didn't close (maybe later he did, but no).
Maybe, because she was a early bird.
Oh, yes, and she got the worm. Worms.

Probably the tapeworm. Well, after a little laugh from my side (daily), sad status messages on IM, heavy medication and lot of pain. She's managed to silence the squigglers. I am not aware if they lived, but she hasn't heard from them so far.


She has stopped having chat often since. :-)
So how often do you eat junk?
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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

How to...Why is...

Google can be as enthusiastic as girl in class who knows all the answers to the teacher's questions.
Recently, Vishal discovered that in a Gmail Atom feed. I for one, found something similar. At first I thought, "Why is Google being so silly?". Take a look at the suggestions (automatically generated) given by the Google search bar in Fx3 for "How to ".


Then I tried with some other keywords, I've got a grab of that too.

This is when I realized (and with some shame, remembered), that Google gives these suggestions based on frequently searched keywords! Woah, are there really so many people who have second thoughts about their marriage?! Ask google indeed!!


Update. Seems the suggestions change with time and is also affected by what you searched. Sample, a N(a)RI-in-US's results:



~LVS
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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Petrol - The Elixir of Life!

Hello people!

This is an IM conversation I had this morning with my friend. It was about petrol. Petrol/diesel has been rather scarce this week in Chennai (atleast). To the extent, our company's buses had to be cancelled. Believe me when I say, there were a lot less of the IT company buses on the road. A lot of crowd at the bunks and all that. We discussed a way to curb that.

Disclaimer: The following conversation happened for fun and either parties had absolutely no intention of going forth with the ideas discussed. Neither is this acting to encourage other parties to take a leaf from it. The participants of the following conversation AND those mentioned in its course, either real or fictional, can NOT be held responsible for the consequences of others' actions following reading this.


Note: Please forgive the occasional use of local english aka tanglish. And in spite of it being for fun, it is a serious issue. Give it a thought.

aks: hiya
aks: good morn...
me: hello
me: good morning
aks: do u have petrol!??!
me: yes :D
aks: i dont :(
me: for another week easily..
me: hmm
aks: waaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh
aks: i do not have!!!!
aks: gimme some?!?!?
me: why didn't you fill before hand?
me: sure i will..
aks: cos i usually fill on monday evening
me: whatever..
me: you want some?
aks: i really do da...
aks: i don think i'll have petrol to go back home itself...
aks: last shot i'll leave at 4 today and see if they give petrol
aks: illati i'll cal u only :D
me: okk
me: i can spare you some at Rs.100/ltr
me: fair enough ?
aks: excuse me?!?!
aks: konjam overa ille?!?!?
aks: too much!!!
aks: help panuvenu paatha
me: i AM helping
me: do you know how many lorries/trucks/vans/bikes are parked on the wrong side near and along an OMR petrol bunk?
me: from mettukuppam to thoraipakkam
aks: wel...
aks: why but?!?!?
me: and there is a longer line (more like a thread of noodle) of people inside the bunk itself
me: all carrying cans
me: the thing is, its not for water..
me: its for petrol
aks: lol....
aks: such is the nelamai....
aks: i had half a mind to come in my sister's cycle...
aks: but then she refused to part wit it :(
me: she's more prudent than you
aks: stupid greedy sister of mine

[I've edited out some part here, which is out of context]

me:
how much does an auto cost you?
me: *will
aks: 40 rs :D
me: ok...
me: 50 + something from your 'esteemed' canteen
aks: grrrrr
aks: seri po...
me: see,
aks: come to my office in the evenin...
aks: i shall get u loads from here :)
me: i give you more security than a stranger driving an auto
aks: so how much u gonna charge me for tat sir?!?! :)
me: i told you
me: 50+ food
aks: ada paaaavi
aks: 50 rs...
aks: plus food ah?!??!
aks: grrrrrrr
aks: even an auto wont fleece me so much!!!
me: secutiry
me: *security..
me: i'll talk in the language you're most comfortable
me: i come to meet you
aks: lol...
me: its safe to tell me your address
me: (ok that's part of sec)
aks: u already know my address u goof!!
me: precisely
me: you see how much petrol can do?
me: it is more or less like M$...you put it everywhere and now you can't live w/o it
aks: grrrrr
aks: i wish i put it everywhere other than my tank...
me: but that's what you did!
me: all the petrol went out through the exhaust pipe in the name of fun!
me: i wonder if i should become a petrol mafia!
aks: pls do... then i think i should be the police to kill u :D
me: do you realize the police need petrol/diesel too?
aks: i'll fly and cum to catch u :)
me: remember the dialogue from Indian? the RTO scene:
me: stop being an underage
aks: wit a frame ilk mine u can afford to do tat u know :)
aks: poda!
me: chandru (kamal): inga parthiya? asst commissioner thu...avare enga kitta thaan license vangararu...
me: tell you something
me: i think you'll be useful
aks: sollu....
me: why don't you join me in becoming (perhaps) the world's first petrol mafia?
aks: he he he he he... i like this idea!!!
aks: sure...
aks: wats the proper deal?!?!
aks: :)
me: 50-50
aks: done..
aks: wat am i supp to do??!?!?
aks: do i get OT handle guns?!?! :D
aks: i love shooting ppl...
aks: dishooom :)
me: [you get the one they have at the beach]
me: oh yes..of course you do
aks: phine!!!!
aks: but i'll use real bullets...
aks: wat else do w have to do?!?!? :D
me: find me sources of petrol
me: we'll employ the unemployed/dis-employed to run errands
aks: hmmmm
aks: wait...
me: exchange money (they won't know its money)
aks: find sources of petrol ah?!?1
me: get petrol from our sources
me: yes..
me: you can't justdial.com it!
aks: how?!?!
aks: damn!!!
me: that's were your skills come into play
aks: not tat easy i can see...
aks: ahem.... yes yes...
aks: so i use my skills and find petrol...
aks: olrite...
aks: then?!?!
me: then what?
me: as we grow, we need to delegate our work a bit..
aks: hmmm
aks: findin ppl wont be tough...
me: we pay enough to keep the police mum..
aks: esp when we can find petrol itself :)
me: yes, they'll probably come to us
aks: her do we get the money for tat in the beginning?!?
me: and mind you, we two have to be the ONLY people who know everything about the whole org
me: you work in world bank..
me: get transferred to accounts dept!
aks: secret keeping?!?!?
aks: so?!?!
me: yes..the rest only know what they're upto
aks: and?!?!
aks: siphon off funds from there?!?!?
me: more or less..
me: we'll discuss that offline..chat ain't safe!
aks: defi mafia only very soon...
aks: ah... for tat u should cum to my office..
aks: we shall discuss over masala dosa :)
me: no
me: somewhere more secluded
aks: urm.... like her?!?!?
me: will tell that when i call from a ELCRODAT encrypted phone
aks: i also wan tat phone!!!
me: we'll have that soon..
me: in fact all our phones need to be that...
me: remember the three blind Israeli brothers?
me: we'll need to use them too soon..
aks: sexy...
aks: hey..
aks: we can dig out Israel too...
aks: maybe they have sources of hidden resources for petrol
me: hmmm
me: i think australia has a big resource and they aren't tapping it till the world runs out
me: imagine the price of crude oil then!
aks: so we'll attack them first?!?
me: not attack..
me: enter into a deal with the oil barons there..
me: we'll need to kajafy them beforehand..
me: we'll need to go big on resources once the demand goes up
aks: oooh...
aks: u do tat talkin...
aks: i'll do the gun holding :)
me: behind whose back?
me: mine?
aks: yes of course....
aks: to shoot the gun in front of u da...
aks: ithu kude theriyathu
aks: seen films no?!?!
me: yes, how your right arm becomes a traitor
aks: ille da makku...
aks: when u talking to someone i'll whip out the gun from behind and shoot him if he tries to attack u?!?!
aks: appadi...
aks: thapu thappa yosikare paathiya...
me: just being careful
me: ok, that's it then?
me: when do we start the works?
me: or should we discuss it offline?
aks: ah.. tat is ah?!?!? all decided?!?!
aks: offline offline...
me: yep..
aks: u don believe me but you'll believe ppl who frisk the net?!?1
me: the chat on petrol mafia is hence close
aks: wogay :)
me: i do believe you..
aks: yaaaaay am all excited... :)
me: am using a secure SSL 1024-bit connection
aks: urm....
aks: i believe u too...
me: by the time they decode it (w/o the key) it'll be the next day of Brahma
aks: [watever tat is]

me: ok,
me: am going to blog this chat!

aks: lol...
aks: am waitin to read it...

me: lets share with the world this silly chat!



I sincerely hope all this doesn't (have to) happen. Is there absolutely nothing left to be done to check the price of oil? Its is not that I do not understand the petrol companies' need to recover losses and the governments' too. But yet, it is the (new) elixir of life.


~LVS
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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Idiot Totalica

Well, perhaps this post ain't really got anything for you to read. The sole (there has been no typo here) purpose of these few lines are to get Technorati's (TR) spiders on to my blog. So that they can know this is really my blog.

I am supposed to post a special/unique link somewhere here, so that they can cross check. Of course, I could've given them my blog link and password, but as you might already know, am not very forthcoming in trusting someone with my passwords.

So here you go TR, Technorati Profile. As the name suggests, this leads to my profile which I haven't updated as yet. (Sorry TR the lack of trust, and thanks for this opportunity for another post!)


Ahh..I almost forgot, the name of this post comes from what a friend called me for giving her devious hints as to how to claim your blog on TR. Well actually my own Latin translation of 'complete idiot'. :-)

Have fun,

~LVS
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Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Uncertainty Principle

It has been a year at Photon. During my initial training, and through my project allocations, I have been seated at 8 different places in my office. I understand that different projects are at different floors/bays; yet, I am in only my 3rd (billable) project here.

It is interesting to note that it is only my second PC. My first seat at the company was chosen by chance. Every one of the trainees was pretty excited about the brand new systems running Vista Business. OK, I confess, we did more of fooling around than learning something; played online games, chit-chat, music, remote logging into others' machines (everyone had the same username/password back then!) among other things...

Getting back to our topic, once we were told which projects we'd most likely be working in, we were moved around the floor into different bays. Seat #2. Since it was a relatively new facility, we were still organizing projects into different floors; as a result of which I got my seat #3 in a different floor. This perhaps is the coldest place in my office. One client who sat opposite me even remarked, "oh ya..its pretty cool here" in reply to my complaint that it was too "cold"! This seat also saw my second PC (which I use till now) and was the only empty place left after everyone picked theirs.

Seats #4, 5 chosen by me as a result of having an AC vent directly above my head and error in judgment on deciding on #4. Kunal who sat with his back to mine during seat #1, came to a similar position now :-)

#6 happened once my PM confirmed I'd be under him and was asked to move into his bay (so that he could watch our screens). This is where I was made a billable resource, where I did my first project that was recognized by the client (though not my best here). It is also here where I marked my seat with my name (a lot of people do that, "please don't steal this chair; back pain" are ubiquitous). Soon after this, things went bad for the client and I was moved to a new(er) project. Yes, my 7th seat!

After a month and a half there, am at typing this from my one week old seat #8. Another project, another client, another floor. Actually, this is temporary; until they empty a seat for me in another floor. Guess no one else has moved so much in so little time; anyone?

Am off to my next seat now :-) Will update once I reach my 10th! And, God forbid, it shouldn't be in my other office.

~LVS

Psst: if you're some big guy @ Photon, get me a laptop so its easier for me to move around!
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Firefox 3 - The best yet!

Update: Firefox does it! A Guinness record for most software downloaded in 24 hours! A stunning 8,002,530 downloads, verified by Guinness Book of Records over 3 weeks! Check here for more details.

Hello readers,

This is a quick post on Mozilla Firefox's latest release. To refresh Fx (or FF) users' memory and educate the ignorant IE users, that there is a better browser around; better than even Fx2!

Firefox 3, on 17th July 2008, comes with a plethora of features, many of which are simply merging Fx2 add-ons into the browser. We'll come to that later.

There was a lot of hype surrounding the release; having used it since beta 3, I thought it quite deserves it. They are even trying to set a Guinness World Record for the most software downloaded in 24 Hrs! Going by the stats, I think they can easily create a world record. w00t!!

You can follow the count right here. I urge you to take part! You even get a certificate! Here is mine. Remember though, this is open till 2100 hrs IST only. After which of course, you will be able to download and use Fx3 but not contribute to the world record. Sad, but quite fair. My bad for not blogging this before! However, looking at the world wide stats, I feel let down that there has not been enough downloads from India. For instance, Iran and Australia have fewer Internet users than us. Yet, there have been more downloads in these countries. Although, there are a few surprising entries into this world record.

  • Samoa - 6
  • Tonga - 6
  • The Gambia - 16
  • Somalia - 7 :P
  • Mauritius - 530 (I guess most of them were tourists on their laptops. hehe)
  • The Chad and Western Sahara Liberia - 1 each (a friend Vishal suggested it was perhaps the President :D)

Coming to the features, here are some which I found absolutely cool!
  • one click bookmarking! Yes, that easy!
  • search bookmarks/history/RSS feeds simultaneously
  • search with keyword (type anything related to the site, part of the URL, title, keywords added to bookmarks etc and get relevant results)
  • multi-select. God, I've wanted this since my first computer!
  • smart bookmarks
  • a list of 'most visited' sites, automatically generated
  • a new about:mozilla page :D
  • true fullscreen exprience
  • anti phishing and anti-malware
  • parental control
  • read here for more features
  • they claim to have made more than 15,000 improvements!
I really did this in a hurry and didn't have time to show you enough screen grabs. I'd love to though. Still, its best you go download it yourself and try it out! Good luck, and rediscover the web, again!


Note: At 1639 hrs IST, the total downloads was at 5,910,353.


Thanks,
~LVS

Firefox 3
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Friday, May 30, 2008

False fueling

This post follows after I read a mail on petrol bunk frauds in B'lore. Courtesy Anu.

I almost always fill petrol from the same bunk. They follow a 50-150 tactics here. Wonder what I'm talking about? If you've ever been cheated while filling petrol at a bunk, you'd know. Or wait, you'll have to realise that you've been tricked.

Drive into a petrol bunk. Appear careless. Ask to fill for Rs.200. Chances are s/he'll enter 50 at the meter and make you believe you weren't clear when you spoke '200'. You'll find another 150 (200-50 right?) entered into the keypad. Fair enough? You wish. What actually happens is, the 150 ain't additional as you assume. Its the overall amount to be filled (wonder who designed it that way). So 150 is actually 150 starting at 50 => 100.

You've paid Rs.200/- for Rs.150/- worth of petrol. Done deal. Bye bye. A similar dupe can be made out of happy-sitting-inside-car-enjoying-AC you for any amount. Here is an account of how I dealt with it once.

I know the manager there personally, so brought him out to the operator and gave a good sounding. Actually, he produced bills generated by the pump itself; which showed bills for 50 + 150. The manager said, if the bill reads it then you can't have been cheated. But I know my bike's fuel gauge well and it doesn't lie. Yet, out of respect for the gentleman I left. But they trick you here too, after returning home, I took a closer look at the bill. It had timestamps. Rs.150/- was billed before the Rs.50 one. So the bill was right, only I was given the wrong bill. Another lesson learnt for fifty bucks!

There is no point writing letters to the govt., making noises about Consumer Rights etc. Its your money, get out and do the following.

  • If you're in a car, get down.
  • If you have a cellphone, don't use it
  • Don't pay before fueling your vehicle.
  • If you have to, better give the exact amount. 2 100 notes can't be seen as a 50.
  • If you're paying by card, get it swiped beforehand.
  • Don't take your eyes off the meter.
  • Do not pay heed to their hints at how nice your bike is, how much mileage you get, your tyres need air etc.
  • Don't check for 0s. Check for 8's instead!
  • Have sense. Don't be scared to question if you have a doubt.
  • Spread awareness instead of complaining.
Are you aware of any other similar tricks? Do comment about it.

Adieu. Happy fueling!


~LVS
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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Open Sesame

Passwords. A string of case sensitive characters requiring you to type them verbatim; no typos allowed.
One needs passwords (or pass phrases) everywhere. PC, email, website, mobiles, ATM, suitcases and what not.

I decided to do a bit of a research on how people like to keep their passwords. This is what I found :

  1. Mostly one password for all the accounts, sometimes with minor variations, is preferred
  2. It might carry some information related to the account
  3. It might be contain your favourite person's name/birthday/mobile number etc
  4. It is preferable when its short and not alphanumeric
I'll say the best combination of "security and easy-to-remember" is when your password satisfies (2) and is alphanumeric. Personally, I like to have a different password for each account I have. Only recently, and covering most of my accounts, have I started to put some characters related to the account. My gmail and yahoo passwords are totally random. It does not even contain numbers related to me or people I like most. It was just a random word and some numbers thrown in between. Back then, when I had only these two passwords to remember (and one for my PC admin a/c: ok, my password was 'enhance'; come and screw my system!), it was easy to relate this random thought and the account. But around the time I finished college, I was having an increasing number of passwords that I considered keeping 'ishallnotremember' as a password for the next account!

My current count is 30+, some of which I confess, I rarely use; "Forgot my password" is perhaps the most clicked hyperlink on these sites! And I like to think I'm security paranoid and maintain different passwords for each account. To lay less strain on my memory, I maintain the same id for everything: lvshankar or use my gmail a/c.

Here's the list of accounts (not passwords) I use:

gmail(2), photonmail, yahoomail, skype, ubuntu (Home),XP(Office), launchpad, ubuntu counter, cooltoad, digg, ilugc, zapak, linux mint forums, geni,mayajaal, IPMS (work related), sparknotes, hotornot (my bro forced me into this), zedge, mediafire, mabango,olts (work related), axis iconnect (2+ATM PIN), hdfc(+ATM PIN, +CC PIN), bugzilla, spreadfirefox, windows live, lifehacker, irctc, mastercard securecard (?!?!), SIT Chennai... :-)

Besides the above, I remember some friends/relatives' passwords/ATM PINs.
A final tip. You might want to try L33t.

Update: A kind of universal login id is available these days. Open ID. It is similar to M$ Passport, but in a sense open. I haven't really tried this yet. One, am waiting for it to get *really* popular, and another, it dejects me to forget most of those passwords and remember just one. Just too easy for me.


Happy remembering!

~LVS

PS: If you thought this post was a show off, you are probably right!

PPS: Since I've been reading uleadin's blogs lately, I have got this PSing habit! Aarggh!
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Thursday, May 08, 2008

A New Unit of Fuel Efficiency

I used to take my company bus to office every(week)day. However, I had to walk a considerable distance from home to board it; and the same while returning. Walking back home can be considered an exercise but in the mornings, you don't want to be in sweat before starting work(!)
So, I convinced myself that bike would be a better option.

Well, my bike has been the primary mode of transport to office for 3 months now. Rarely have I had a pillion rider (I wish Seetha had come). And then one fine day I thought, "Is bike really more fuel efficient than my bus?".

After a short chit-chat with my office's admin head, I came to know that my company bus gives a mileage of 3.5 Km/ltr and around 25 take the same route as I, were I taking it. By my calculations, my bike gives 65 Km/ltr; if you try to average the number of people travelling on my bike, it would come to 1.0002 or something, so no. of travellers = 1. Today, during lunch, over a blunt conversation for no purpose, this was discussed. And I thought of this *new* unit to measure fuel efficiency: Km-people/ltr; for sake of convenience, lets call it Commutage.

With the above given information, the Commutage for me going to office, would be (65 Km/ltr)*(1 person) = 65 km-people/ltr.

The same for the bus would be, (3.5 Km/ltr)*(25 people) = 87.5 Km-people/ltr.

No prizes for guessing which is better. However, if I can get someone to ride with me to office everyday we get a Commutage that beats the bus! (130 Km-people/ltr to be precise). If everyone were to use bikes (like mine), there would be a lot of fuel saved and space. Buses, especially private ones, take a lot of space on the outside, but aren't exactly full. No. I don't recommend triples or quadruples or more on a bike, they are bound to reduce your mileage and worsens your engine's condition which further reduces mileage, which cannot be compensated in your Commutage!

Now lets take a look at cars. Assume a mileage of 15 Km/ltr. Usually a car can accommodate 4-5 people that gives a Commutage of 60-70. Take a 10 away for AC, 50-60 Km-people/ltr. It is a lot less than even a scarcely crowded bus and I've been too conservative. It can be excused for the sake of comfort. Yet, we can do better than a single person driving it.

Next, Auto rickshaws. Lets put its mileage at 20-25 Km/ltr. The average number of people travelling is 2. You do the math. The case of an Auto, brings us to an interesting point. We may now need to slightly modify our unit of measure. The driver should not be considered in the number of travellers unless he's returning home or taking his family for ride! Similar is the case for call taxis, fathers dropping kids etc. So Commutage should be (Mileage)*(No. of people travelling on purpose). In case of pick-ups and drops, the driver if returning alone has no other work on the way, gives ZERO Commutage!

Finally, MTC!! Well, we don't need to do any math for this. Truly unbeatable stats! Try it out yourself! And in the crowd of a hundred (OK. In most cases atleast), the conductor and driver do not make much of a difference :-)

Note:
  1. This should be considered only for (public) road transport. Don't wonder how less a Commutage aeroplanes or fighter planes will give :-P
  2. The availability of petrol and diesel maybe different and also their performance.
  3. Commutage should not be the only criterion. Think about comfort, safety, urgency, availability etc. But all within acceptable limits.
  4. We need more scales. Any takers?
  5. The non-consideration towards drivers, parents and friends should not be taken personally, but only for the sake of calculation.

When I started this post, the price of oil was nearly $124 a barrel. Today water, which is a renewable resource, is also scarce. Oil isn't a renewable resource and we don't have much left in the crust either.

I hope this blog will make people do their bit for the Earth. I do.

~LVS

PS: I'm still in dilemma about my mode of transport to office :-(
Update: I take the office government bus now! my own bike now. Buses too crowded :(

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Orion

Among a zillion stars, scattered over the dark sky, forming as many forms as your imagination lets you. Among the predetermined icons that the stars outline. Among lions, fishes and question marks, one constellation captures my eyes everytime I look up. Visible for most part of the year, it has got some magic about it. On the banks of Eridanus, his shield thrust forward and his club raised high; with his faithful hunting dogs, Canis Major & Minor, he prepares to hunt the charging Taurus watched at by the Gemini twins. Perhaps it's the near symmetric figure or maybe because that's my Moon Sign or because the pose is similar to my favourite warriors - Spartans, or simply because its the only constellation I properly recognize...

The Orion, is more than the seven stars. In fact, his head, a star known as "π3 Ori" is the nearest to Earth. Only a 26.3 years' drive at the speed of light! Its left shoulder is a red giant (if you know what that is), named α Ori. And its left knee is a large blue-white star, one of the brightest in the night sky, β Ori. Only after I researched about the constellation did I know it has a lot of stars to its name. Two of them are known to have planets too. Scientists name the stars of a constellation with Greek alphabets in them. However, all the stars might not have contributed identifying it as a constellation. This group of stars also helps locate other stars/constellations like Sirius, Pollux and Castor and some more I don't know the names of.

There are even a few nebulae on his sword, which are quite distinct from a star even to the naked eye. And a recent discovery by NASA's Spitzer telescope is a nest of stars near his crown. Think seeing stars in your head!! It is general practice to locate stars using the constellations. They're mostly not in the same plane, or even near the constellation in question. Kind of like windows to the vast ocean of stars. The nest of stars, for instance, is actualy 1300+ years old. So, whenever you look at stars, you're looking into the past :-)

Orion is the oldest known constellation. Almost, every one of the early civilizations have recognized it, albeit in different forms. Like, a shephard for the Summerians. But, for most part, he was a hunter. The constellation, formed 1.5 million years ago, hasn't changed much owing to the slow movement of the stars; will remain so for another 1 or 2 million years, watching us from the skies like a keeper at night.
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