Monday, March 30, 2009

Predicting Death

Death - comes to all. Nobody is spared. What if, you know the day you will die? What if you knew how? Would you take efforts to avoid it? Chances are high that you'd end up doing more harm. OK, am not talking about the movie 'Final Destination' or something. But knowing our future has always been interesting. Many of those who say astrology (Indian or Greek) is a waste of time, can't wait to read the weekly predictions for their zodiac in the local paper. Its because we are all cowards. We want to know in advance what the future holds for us. We aren't ready to face the challenges that lie ahead.

Yamraj, death

Wait, I didn't mean this post to be philosophical. Just wanted to share with you an online death predictor.

Try it. Its fun!
Here are some of the results myself and my friends got:

"Vidhya Shankar: At age 35 you will become lost during a road trip and wind up living out the movie 'Wrong Turn'. Sorry for ya."

Kalyan*: At age 40 you will die fighting the Interplanetary War on Terrorism on Camp Harmony, Venus.

Ambika*: At age 47 a group of children will text message you continuously for three years, eventually distracting you while driving and causing a fatal wreck; your fatal wreck. (SMS a mixed blessing?!)

Kunal*: At age 72 you will fall into a vat of neutral shoe polish, and your body will never be recovered

Aparna*: At age 69 you will have a heart attack while eating a deep-fried peanut butter and banana sandwich, Elvis style.

Vishal*: At age 70 you will participate in the newest reality game show. Contestants battle each other in an arena with swords and spears. You will have a good run (12+ victories) but eventually be killed, much to the audience's dismay. Go Maximus!

* Names changed to protect privacy

Give it a try and tell me what you got.

PS: If you want a more serious prediction try this

Special thanks to Kunal and Ambika
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Friday, March 27, 2009

The Lost Cosmonaut

Yuri Gagarin. The first man in space. Or was he?
During the 1950s and 60s, following the Cold war, there was a battle between the West (US) and the East (USSR) to establish leadership in space exploration. With the launch of Sputnik I in 1957, the USSR gave a blow to US. Pretty soon, in 1961, when they put the "first man in space" they surged even ahead of US. But there has been some speculation that Yuri wasn't really the first person to be out there. Who was it then? If its true, why hasn't the first person shown himself up? Why would USSR pose someone else as the first when s/he wasn't? After all, space tourism wasn't famous until Dennis Tito.

It turns out that, between 1957 and 1961, USSR had not been quite as they might have seemed. In 1960, two Italian brothers Achille and Giovanni Battista Judica-Cordiglia and their team using a home made satellite dish were 'listening' to signals from passing satellites etc and they recorded some astonishing messages. On November 28th, to be precise, they got a signal which read in Morse code "SOS to the entire world". They got this signal thrice. A few days later, the Russians only admitted that there was failed launch but said nothing about the SOS from space. In early February, there were sounds of a "wildly beating human heart" and "laboured breathing"! And then a few more days later, a female voice saying "Conditions growing worse; why don't you answer? . . . we are going slower . . . the world will never know about us.", Russian. There is even a recording of these available online at but its in Italian. Russia back then denied all such reports. They even went to the extent of removing any evidence of people who were 'lost' in space. The Italian brothers also suggested that the signals appeared to move away from the Earth; that is the spacecraft was deliberately made to escape gravity!

The Straight Dope, states that there's a lot more that Russia has wrapped up regarding their space programs. Although, most of the deaths relating to cosmonauts were proven not unusual the Russian space people did take some enormous risks with their lifes.

I wonder why the US didn't hype this up and put it all over the Internet. Especially, while there was so much FUD about their Apollo 11 moon mission!

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Linux and the Tasmanian Devil

[This ain't a geeky post!] Everyone heard of Linux? Good. You know its mascot? Its a penguin, right. Know what its called? Tux, it is. Tux has always been the mascot for Linux and nobody even thought of replacing it. The penguin was Linus' (the creator) choice and now he has again decided to change it, temporarily. With the latest [kernel] version of Linux, Tuz the Tasmanian Devil was announced as the mascot for Linux. Though temporarily. Its for a cause. This switcheroo is to support the 'Save the Tasmanian Devil' campaign which aims to protect species from extinction.

Tux has now given way for Tuz. Note, that it is Tuz and not Taz as in the looney toons. Here's an image to help you understand the difference!

tux tuz taz

For me its sad that Tux won't be around for sometime. Besides, Tuz looks horrible! ech! I do hope things are back to normal soon.

Sigh-ing off,

PS: Will the 'Save the Tasmanian Devil' campaign use Tux for sometime? Because Linux is pretty endangered too :P

Image sources: Wikimedia, The Register, Toons Town
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Friday, March 20, 2009

Undo sending an email

No. This can't be true. Its too good to be true. But it is now possible! Thanks to gmail I can now not resend an email for forgetting an attachment - not slap my forehead for missing an important line in the mail - not regret sending the mail to the wrong person - and so on and so forth. How many time was it that you've felt any of the above? (yes yes. nod nod. many a times) Trust Google to come up with useful features. They've done it again. Now you can actually 'Undo' sending an email that wasn't supposed to be sent the way it was. Don't believe me? Read Gmail offical blog : Undo Send.

How does google accomplish this? Once an email is sent, you can't do much to it. There's no post(wo)man to bribe. Well its simple. Actually that's the limitation to this feature, but its a very fair trade off. When you hit Send, Gmail actually doesn't send it for 5 seconds. Meanwhile, it shows you the following message:

You don't click it in five seconds or you aren't able to because your net connection suddenly went poof, Gmail will send the mail. Neat. But then here's the catch. You have to be bright enough to realize you've goofed up something - within 5 seconds! :P

This can be a problem actually. Say when you have to send a really really ultra urgent email to someone, you're effectively losing 5 seconds! :D So if you need to do that often, you might as well turn it off. Or you can spend 30* seconds going to Settings and turning off the feature! You get to pick it! Perhaps The Gmail Team can add a 'Send now' button. Easy.


PS: Am going to try sending some hate mail and then hit Undo. Gives some temporary satisfaction doesn't it?

*Dependent on your Internet connection speed and your agility with the mouse.

Update: I tried sending a mail to myself and hit undo. However, just before that the new mail actually reflected in my inbox!! :-o
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

For the love of surveys

The other day I was filling up a survey for employee satisfaction in IT companies. Its really nice to know someone out there cares what IT professionals feel about their working environment and how its influences their lives. Though for unaltruistic reasons, am sure people would love a(nother) channel where they can express what they really feel about their bosses and/or subordinates. Agreed, the survey ain't going to change their lives overnight. But it gives the satisfaction of being true to oneself, once in a while. Don't we all love reading stuff on magazines and newspapers (they aren't just news anymore, anyway) which talk about the sad state of IT employees? Especially statements which go "a recent survey suggested that IT employees are...blah blah..". It is something even non-IT people can relate to, because its what everyone talks about!

Personally, am glad that the survey was anonymous. Not that I had complained too much, am pretty happy with my job, so there. Anyway, what makes me glad is that several of my answers are just random. I couldn't help it. The questions seemed so redundant to me but thinking it ought to have a different meaning than the previous but being unable to comprehend it I settle for a random answer. Take a look at some of the questions and you'll know what I mean. (all of the below are yes/no questions)
  • my life has a clear sense of purpose
  • I have discovered a satisfying life purpose
  • I have a good sense of what makes my life purposeful
Another set,
  • I feel I can chose the way I live my life
  • I have the freedom to chose my lifestyle
  • I feel I is my right to pick my lifestyle
You get the idea? I didn't. That's why I was scared to answer them. What if the questions were there to check my sincerity in taking the survey? Not that I care. Randomness helps. Just be wary next time you take a survey!


PS: Still not made a decision on the move.
PPS: Kunal will never buy a PC in 2009. He's just putting vetti scene! :P
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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Blogger to Wordpress - Changing loyalty

If you took a look at my previous post and the comments there, you'd know I have been considering to shift from Blogger to Wordpress.Chill guys, I have not yet made the decision to move. But I might. The purpose of the this very post is to warn you in advance. One fine day you might find a page from blogger asking your permission to redirect to my WP page. You have been warned. (Or you might have seen that already, in that case apologies). So, why now. Why not before?
Now, because they say WP is a lot better (Blogger, so sorry to say this on _your_ pages, but as you say, its _my_ site) It seems I've been having a WP page since more than a year ago, might as well use it. Why not before? I didn't know and I was afraid of losing my page rank, my posts and mainly the user comments. But then I figured, my page rank ain't so great. And WP provides for importing all my posts _and_ my comments. Wow, big deal?! Nah..RSS. Old technology. So anyway, so be it. Thathasthu! See you on WP soon. Might. We just might meet there.


PS: Many thanks for Ambika for the idea. And many more thanks to Kunal for helping me change my password :P
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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Where are my readers?

Long long ago, I had enabled a beautiful tool, called Google Analytics for my blog. And I had forgotten about it. Today, I thought I'd use GA to track visitors, page clicks etc etc and realised what I already quoted in the first line. This being my second attempt (first here) at statistics for my blog, wasn't as cheerful to look at.
Here are a few things GA measured for me (and I pick the ones which were relatively the best)
  • Visitor loyalty - how many times an individual user returned to read my blog
  • Visitor recency - how soon did the returning user come back
  • Bounce rate - how many just came to the home page and then went away without looking at other pages
  • Length of each visit
  • Number of unique users
  • Page views
  • and more...
And I scored abysmally on all of the above! 70% of the people visiting my blog, turn away after reading(?) the stuff on the first page, and playing with the fish too perhaps. Unique visitors is about 200. Average time on site is 2 mins. Average number of visits per day is around 4 :-( :-( :-(

So I thought it was time for some action. I guess you now realise that I have enabled summaries (which is not an _available_ feature in blogger). Number of posts per page have been increased. GA also tells me, 64% of the visitors are new and more than 50% come from referring sites. I've decided to make the biggest draw even bigger. Backlinks everywhere! My IM status will almost always say "Blog update" henceforth and things like that...More ideas for blog promotion are welcome. Yes, am on directories like IndiBlogger and Technorati.

Also, I need to make sure the visits spike on the day of a post is not too much higher than on other days. Any ideas for that?

OK, I made this post just to tell you people that some changes on this blog (visible/otherwise). A change of template didn't work. Someone suggest one?

Thanks and keep coming back for more! :D

Update: 'ravukalam' and 'i am an idiot latin translation' are keywords that show my blog as the first result on google search! :P yay!
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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Random thoughts

A lot of things have been going on in my mind recently, well it always is. I thought it'll be good to pour all that here. OK, Kunal, I flicked that idea from you. Go ahead, sue me.

So, what have I been upto?
We are a group called Sit and am trying to develop a new website for ourselves. Am learning a bit of drupal for that. If you look at the current one, you won't ask why. Also, we're planning a big event in the city. Its top secret, I can't tell you!

I am currently working on a POP3 mail client based on PHP. (at work)

Apart from the geek stuff, am trying to sell my old PC. There are 3-4 prospective buyers none of whom are committed or have said no. To add to the confusion, am being advised to not sell it and use of for 'experiments'.

Last saturday, on the way to my friend's house, I noticed a hoarding saying "Women's shopping festival...blah blah". Wait. Women's shopping, that's alright. Why do they need a festival? Do they even need a reason to go shopping?

Indiainfoline, a financial services company who's motto is "Its all about money, honey". It seems to me they are now saying "I don't have any money, honey".

Rukmani, often puns on her blog and sometimes I give her tips which she twists so much I can't claim copyright. I often thinking of doing a just-for-pun post on my blog, thinking up stuff to write (mostly while driving/riding) and then forget it altogether.

I have gone slack on my daily accounting again, and this time I'm missing 85 25 bucks.

I am totally broke, and my last month's salary is 125 rupees less than it should be.

Last month's internet usage is 2 MB less than the maximum limit, phew!

Does anybody know why email attachments have to be scanned everytime you open them?

My 4+ year old bike gives a mileage of 72+ Kmpl.

I get nearly 4 stray wi-fi signals at my place, only one of which I was able to use (that too just once)

Its funny how Microsoft and Mark Shuttleworth (who is a founder of a Linux distribution [Ubuntu]) have the same abbreviated form

I am wondering why I did this totally pointless you even care?
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