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DoJ Alleges Cisco Reseller Made $37 Million Selling Counterfeit Equipment

Gopal.V College Funds? (74 comments)

Do you need to earn "Crime pays" kind of money to fund college funds for 4 children in America?

I don't know whether he wants his kids to have a good education or whether he thinks they'll make better master criminals with a degree & a job in Wall Street :)

But at the very least he thinks a child's education is important, which is more than most.

about a year and a half ago

Indian FOSS Evangelist Atul Chitnis Dead At 51

Gopal.V A whole generation grew up with PCQ Linux (39 comments)

I started using Linux before I got internet or was in a university. I wouldn't have started on Linux (and eventually interned at FSF India) if not for those streams of CDs that were available for a very expensive 100rs (approx 3$ back then).

This wouldn't have been possible without the efforts of toolz. And several others who were behind the curtain (I remember calling up the Digit phone # to ask for help with my i810 video card).

The result was a grass-roots up linux community that sprung up all over India, out of curiousity and tolerating lots of lost partitions.

Both toolz & OldMonk, linux-india old-timers recently lost to us, will not be forgotten (at least by me).

about a year and a half ago

Kevin Mitnick Helping Secure Presidential Elections In Ecuador

Gopal.V Is "Securing elections" a euphemism? (85 comments)

That guy: I can secure that election for you, very cheap & virtually bulletproof.

I don't mean to challenge whatever white-hat work that Kevin Mitnick is doing, but the phrase does indeed strike me as something a lobbyist (or well, tout) would tell me. Perhaps I'm just cynical.

Trust in the democratic process is as important as the actual security of the process. So I would suspect that anything Mitnick finds will be discussed behind closed doors - and it's none of my business, but this does not add any more unless I trust Mitnick (viz not at all).

about 2 years ago

Anonymous Hacks Finland

Gopal.V You morons! You are playing right into their plot! (129 comments)

Wrong forum to say this, but listen to me, all you call yourselves Anonymous!

Forget about "V for Vendetta". Now, take a history lesson from someone who's not of the first world and grew up in a communist paradise.

Guy Fawkes did British revolutionaries a complete disservice. First up, he was a religious nutjob who wanted to kill a king for religious intolerance. The end result of which was that finally the king had a real good & proper reason to hunt down the catholics. The ordinary catholics ended up in a long drawn struggle and bore most of the collateral damage out of the actions of an anarchistic commune. Those thirteen proved to be as bad for the catholics as the original.

With the new "Guy Fawkes" vigilantes are similarly giving ammunition to the government to grab control of the internet, choke down every protest fair or otherwise. You assholes aren't fighting authority, you're just the reason giving their oppression legitimacy in the eyes of the people who don't want to be accidentally your targets for the lulz.

And here's some advice from my dad, "If you really want to be a rebel, live for the rebellion, don't die for it". Now, if you want to be a martyr instead ... don't take me down with you.

more than 3 years ago

Nexus Prime, And Ice Cream Sandwich, Go For a Video Tour

Gopal.V The one touch camera is going to be abused ... (246 comments)

Knowing some people, I can expect a lot of crotch shots to be waiting for me when I come back :)

And they're not going to be the kind I'd want to keep.

more than 3 years ago

German Parliament Backs Nuclear Exit By 2022

Gopal.V NIMBY - Let France do it (364 comments)

From what I can see, I hope the European Union survives till then (with Greece, Portugal and Ireland in it), but if it does, most of the new nuclear reactors in France would be powering the industrial complex of Germany.

In some sense, that does make a lot of sense to have a single nation throw their weight behind a tech and sort of specialize in it. On the other hand, naming Fukushima as a cause is just political pandering of the lowest kind.

more than 3 years ago

Local Currencies To Replace Dollar For 5 Countries' Dealings

Gopal.V Yeah! ... The Almighty buck is no more! (519 comments)

As someone sitting in India, I love this move. Sure my paycheck is going to suffer once they start cashing in all the dollars from their reserves and the rupee strengthens. But as a long term measure this is just absolutely required.

The dollar jumped to the forefront of all this because (IMHO) they managed to ensure OPEC only sells using dollars. But if Russia, China, Brazil and (hopefully) Iran starts selling things in other currencies, US loses the critical ability to just print out more dollars to pay off their deficits or the bring down the world economy just to get out of jail free. Which is what China's aiming for, I guess. And Manmohan Singh was one of the most famous finance ministers in India, responsible for the economic liberalization of the 90s, I guess he knows what he's doing as well.

The fall of the dollar is a big deal for the developing world.

more than 3 years ago

Yahoo Seeks Open Source Community Support

Gopal.V Open source the keep-alive & buffering proxies (73 comments)

I'm damn near to the point of writing something which does the same shit all over again - how to handle keep-alives and slow POSTs over indian IPs while not typing up apaches along with it.

I'd rather fix a few bugs in code that already works than write my own with blackjack and hookers.

more than 3 years ago

Flying Robot Bird Unveiled

Gopal.V But is it heavier than air? (152 comments)

Somehow I get the weird feeling that this is a helium filled lighter than air or at least neutral buoyancy device with wings.

On the other hand, in the video it's uncannily like a bird in its flght movements and extremely agile on turns. I'm guessing this is an experiment to work out the mechanics of creating a flapping wing rather than on figuring out how to deliver lifting power off it.

more than 3 years ago

Intel CEO: Nokia Should Have Gone With Android

Gopal.V Pedigree speaks for itself (246 comments)

The guy's more comfortable with Microsoft, he's got shares in it, he talks to the people, he knows Microsoft. Now, Google is a totally different beast there - they're doing exactly the same thing, i.e just make an OS, but they're not really Mr Elop's circle.

And oh, yeah ... it is also a very distinct conflict of interest when SEC stops him from selling all his MS Stock and buying NOK instead. It's like the rules tilted this particular crusade to a windmill.

I love my Nokia phones and I've never bought any other. For the brief period I worked for Ericsson, I was shocked to realize the depth of their patent portfolio, especially when it comes to UX stuff. I can guess those guns will be aimed at Apple first, while it's leaderless without Steve, but eventually the aim's going to turn around and point at Android.

more than 3 years ago

The Dirty Little Secrets of Search

Gopal.V What do you mean by "know better?" (154 comments)

The whole idea of an SEO budget is to push your name out to the top line of google, bing or anything else people use to search.

The intent was to game the system. And by doing so, make a ton of money. There are no laws for internet search ... unless you can use trademark laws to push a competitor who's doing that to your brand name.

Unscrupulous yes, ruthless yes, but that is the true face of capitalism anyway. Google can try regulating, but only enough to make the same people put in pennies into their sidebar offering of less-worth, but clearly marked advertising.

more than 3 years ago

OLPC Halves Power Consumption For XO 1.75

Gopal.V OLPC revolutionized Laptops - time to do it again? (160 comments)

I never thought I'd be a beneficiary from the OLPC project. I'd never be able to use an OLPC for anything I do. But I love how the project has put a bent in the technical landscape of portable devices industry. It was a failure as an education project perhaps, but it succeeded in more than one way as a laptop research project.

When OLPC came out in 2007, the laptops were on a lap-melting, back-breaking rush towards bigger & faster. Nearly everything came in with a Core2 or a Core2 Duo, with lots of RAM (yeah, guess what you can't save power on, RAM needs a strobe whether it has data or not). The fact that OLPC came out in 2007, sort of forced the geeks to look at weight as a valid concern for a consumer device. Not to mention questions about why a 1995 top-end laptop ran for 4 hours on batteries, when a 2005 one won't do the same at the same weight.

Less than a year after OLPC came the rush of netbooks. Finally machines that people can afford to buy (like here in India) and carry around without being tied to a wall plug. Scroll paste a few years, it is not only consumers, using them. I see Rasmus post PHP benchmarks off his netbook, I see entire teams (like Inkscape) suddenly sit up and re-work their UI workflows/dialog-space for it. I see the Notion Ink use OLPC Pixel Qi tech in the new tablet.

Socially speaking, the project has been a great failure. But technologically, it has left a huge impact on portable devices everywhere. As for the former, the project probably forgot that "Charity begins at Home". Refusing to sell full-price to americans wanting them shows a complete lack of understanding of how economies of scale & price segmentation would've worked out. I'm not going to mourn the failure of Negroponte, but I'll just give the technical folks at OLPC a big thumbs-up.

I'll happily pay 200$ for an arm netbook'ish if they'll sell me one in India. Hell, I'll even fix all the things that don't work for me - for FREE. Not all of us are poor & in need of a hand-out. Heck, I'm at the verge of putting in a pre-order for a Notion Ink Adam, for double the price, if the hype pans out.

about 4 years ago

Aging Reversed In Mice

Gopal.V Senescence != immortality (554 comments)

I don't want to live forever. I'd rather die eventually, but the years I'm alive, I want to live them fully.

I don't want to age. I don't care if my life ends at 80 or 90 or 150, I want those years, every last one of them, to be spent without sitting in a hospice as a drooling vegetable. I'd rather get tired of living than spend most of my life on the sliding slope away from the heights of my youth.

When they come to take me away when I'm 150, I'll say good bye to the cruel world, the cruel bedsheets and even the cruel curtains with some sort of tassels.

And as for the population problem, if I was sure I'd live till eternity, I might not even care too much about the propagation of the species (see, I don't really see why Wowbagger had to date Trillian).

more than 4 years ago

Stephen Fry and DVD Jon Back USB Sniffer Project

Gopal.V Douglas Adams would've approved ... (126 comments)

Actually, when I think about it, Douglas Adams did write a "Death to Dongly Things", sometime in the last decade.

I sure hope Stephen Fry can write up a funny thing to stir up support, even among those of us who don't care enough.

more than 4 years ago

A Decade of Agile Programming — Has It Delivered?

Gopal.V Scrum is *not* a replacement for good management (395 comments)

I appreciate good management. I can live with no management, but I can't handle bad management.

SCRUM has sort of become a device for a manager to avoid managing. The human in the picture is replaced with a sprint chart and backlog tracker. It lets bad managers get by, while good managers are really thrown out of the picture.

I hated scrum in my old job. But the new job just throws out a list of features to implement, ranks it and throws it at one of us. There are no punishments for missing a day, no tracker to guilt-trip you and most importantly, the stand-up meetings are just before lunch. And mostly, serves to keep our communication channels open across the team.

I hated the time-keeping TPS report style scrum, but I'm cool with the new approach. I love the idea of sprints and taking a week out of a month to hammer something out. But this system only works with motivated teams with a fair scrum-master.

But I repeat, it is not a replacement for good management. It is as good as a way of letting me manage my tasks,but please (for the love of God, please) do not use it to manage me.

more than 4 years ago

Has Christopher Nolan Turned the 3D Argument?

Gopal.V We'd have to reinvent drama for 3-D (381 comments)

Most of the action/epic movie genre shot in real life, rather than on a green screen heavily uses perspective effects to achieve drama.

Something like the famous contra-zoom would be a complete failure in 3-D. The entire sequence in LoTR where Gandalf and Frodo are in the same shot would just not work in 3-D unless you went in and fixed the perspective for every frame.

Half of the hollywood real-life special effects would need to be re-invented for 3-D to work right. Or the CGI versions need to catch up to the old-school effects.

And then there are people like me who accidentally distracted by the background. I take a look at it and then my eyes sort of complain about not being able to bring a backdrop object into focus. Totally kills the immersion for me. I want 3-D movies, but not this polarized lenses in each eye monstrosity (I wonder if I could get contacts with those).

more than 4 years ago

Aussie Kids Foil Finger Scanner With Gummi Bears

Gopal.V Removing the human ... that's where the issue is (303 comments)

Biometric, swipe cards or any other method they use will have loopholes when left alone. All it needs is a single teacher to watch everyone put their fingers there. But if I were in school I'd hate that too (*mutters* "fucking attendance nazis").

In my old 2nd language class in school, we would all file in, sit down and the teacher would go through the list & call out the students she thinks is absent. But it was all on paper and there was no tallying done until the end of the term.

But I must applaud the school for making the kids work harder to break the system, that's a definite way to select intelligence for "coolness" :)

more than 4 years ago

Indian Military Organization To Develop Its Own OS

Gopal.V Stuxnet ... and a nuclear reactor (466 comments)

I think this has sort of been prompted by what happened to Iran and the recent attack with the Stuxnet worm. India has a significantly advanced nuclear programme, which is (and should be) doing research into thorium based nuclear power, which has potential for export. The Kalpakkam reactor just finished the 25th year of its running and the next generation of engineers are picking up after the recent retirees from that programme.

If I had to guess this would be QNX-ish operating system, not a windows clone in any sense of binary compatibility. The "windows software" comment is very likely to mean that this is a GUI operating system, not an embedded firmware version.

There has been significant work into the Linux kernel locally (like the Param Supercomputer). So OS level work is not as alien to these people as you might think. Either way, it's a good initiative, even if it crashes & burns.

more than 4 years ago

Ubuntu 10.10, Maverick Meerkat, Now Available

Gopal.V Shotwell instead of f-spot, almost Yay (473 comments)

As a photographer, I like Shotwell. As a programmer, I like it a little more than the mono updates that come along with f-spot (and I don't like Miguel).

But here's what's kept me from abandoning gthumb2 for shotwell. Shotwell keeps pictures in ~/Pictures by default. There is no way for it to randomly pick up a directory and operate on it. I've often thought about hacking that up, but for Vala & the associated learning curve I've been too lazy to tackle.

And now, for an encore can we kick tomboy too out of the CD?

more than 4 years ago



Flash for Mobile phones is dead!

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Gopal.V writes "Adobe is recognizing what was a square peg for a round hole and killing Flash for mobile devices. But they're not going away, instead shifting focus towards the more capable (but same 'ol, same 'ol) Air platform for mobile devices. But the brief interlude at least will help the HTML5 bandwagon gain some traction & finally agree on some codecs and not just the markup. And perhaps, just perhaps the authoring tools (unfortunately, what's there other than Adobe Edge?) will catch up too."
Link to Original Source

Youtube Outage, groans the cricket fans ...

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Gopal.V (532678) writes "Youtube is down right now, serving out a 503 status page. It wouldn't be a big deal for most, except for the timing of the outage.Indian Premier League being streamed live (well, delayed by a bit) on youtube. So on an afternoon when Bangalore is playing a match, youtube just went down. Has youtube been IPL-dotted, because the local ISP has lifted bandwidth limits on this youtube channel."
Link to Original Source

The Internet Freedom Act of 2009

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Gopal.V (532678) writes "Jon Stewart took up the cause of Net Neutrality in last night's daily show episode. Even though daily show was a little biased, the topic under discussion was John McCain's Internet Freedom Act of 2009 which is essentially a death knell for net neutrality. US being pretty much the central routing hub of the entire internet, this will certainly affect everyone everywhere. Please note that the video is not advised for anyone who likes Unicorns."
Link to Original Source

CCC Create a rogue CA certificate

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 6 years ago

t3rmin4t0r writes "Just when you were breathing easy about Kaminsky, DNS and the word hijacking, by repeating the word SSL in your head, the hackers at CCC were busy at work making a hash of SSL certificate security. Here's the scoop on how they set up their own rouge CA, by (from what I can figure) reversing the hash and engineering a collision up in MD5 space. Until now, md5 collisions have been ignored because nobody would put in that much effort to create a useful dummy file, but a CA certificate for phishing seems juicy enough to be fodder for the botnets now."
Link to Original Source

Google Native client: x86 on the web

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 6 years ago

t3rmin4t0r writes "Google has announced Google native client which is enables x86 native code to be run securely inside a browser. With java applets already dead and buried, this could mean the end of the new war between browsers and the various javascript engines (V8, Squirrelfish, Tracemonkey). The only question remains whether it can be secured (ala ActiveX) and whether the advantages carry over onto non-x86 platforms.The package is available for download from its Google code site. Hopefully, I can finally write my web apps in asm."
Link to Original Source

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 7 years ago

t3rmin4t0r writes "Yahoo! has launched Pipes, a unixy way of remixing web content — in a somewhat "leg bone connected to the ankle bone" fashion — with connectors and filters/mutators, ending up with something very similar to the shell way of doing things, except with a cool javascript designer which faintly reminds you of ye olde Java Studio.

If you don't like content from Y! or flickr, this supports feeds from google base, which should make things interesting for real estate data at least. The tool definitely has a "Go forth and write your own aggregators" feel to it, rather than directly hooking into mashup land. As far as I'm concerned, I can finally create a pipe which filters out all the angst-ridden self-loathing out of blog feeds."

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 8 years ago

t3rmin4t0r writes "Apple has just been granted patent #7,127,474 by the USPTO. The idea is the basis and concept for a large number of ORM sub-systems in J2EE or Ruby on Rails. Even though I expect Sun and others to pay a royalty to apple, it raises some interesting contradictions for rails shipping with Leopard. But still you can't argue with the relevance of the patent.

And for the fear of tainting ORM developers — please do NOT RTF PATENT if you are one. Just say No! to software patents."

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 8 years ago

t3rmin4t0r writes "A buffer overflow exploit has been detected in Google Earth. The vulnerability uses a malformed .kml file, subscribed or automatically refreshed by the application. It is being disputed whether this could be used to insert a canned payload (like the vnc dlls) — but nobody really has come out with the code, so far.

The Linux version of Google Earth and the NASA WorldWind's KMLImporter are not reported as vulnerable."

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 8 years ago

t3rmin4t0r writes "Yahoo! has brought out a new auth system for their single-sign-on system, which lets other third party websites to authenticate and access user content, after user login. Or as the ydn blog said "Our Users Can Be Your Users Too". The Yahoo! Photos api, which uses this, has already been announced and if I read the cards right, a Yahoo! Mail api is currently being demo'd before the open hackday participants."

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 8 years ago

t3rmin4t0r writes "Yahoo! has launched a Ruby Developer Center adding another language to their Developer Network toolkit. The site includes tutorials on how to access the popular Yahoo! web services with ruby such as using the Term Extraction or the del.icio.us REST apis. If you want to get in touch with the developers or other users, there is a ydn-ruby mailing list. Here is the official announcement.

Apparently, the ruby version of the toolkit has come out of a spare time project. So ... can I have my perl support tomorrow ?"

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Gopal.V writes "As part of their Y! Developer Network programme, Yahoo! is holding a developer only two-day event — Sept 29th & 30th. You can read more about it on hackday.org or techcrunch. The idea seems to to extend the energy and enthusiasm that came out of the Hack Days, purely internally and add a little zing to it in terms of external contributors, not to mention a bit of community interaction.

Considering all the cool stuff that has come out of the original hack days (as ycoolthing shows), this could be really a good idea. So if you've been hacking away with some random Y! api, here's a stage for you to show up and beat the masters at their own game."



Best laid plans of mice, eh ?

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 9 years ago

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 team
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 ! .


Engineer Think - phenomenon

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 9 years ago 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.


Wardrobe Malfunction: a traveller's tale

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 9 years ago

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 !!


Here today, gone tomorrow

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 9 years ago 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.


ComputerScience2003 : The Next Generation

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 9 years ago 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.


Reductio Ad Absurdum

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 9 years ago 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 internet.

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 polynesia.
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 internet.

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 :)


Tom Holt and Terry Pratchet

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Reading is one my favourite things to do - ever since being forced to lie in my bed for a summer when my family was having a serial attack of Chicken Pox. It started with me - so I was pushed to a room and lying there thinking of castles, woods and running animals, listening to the kids play cricked in my backyard. Then my sister caught it, then the rest of the crowd dropped pretty quickly. So there I was, perfectly healthy and cleansed of all filth I've been feeding myself, thanks to a strict diet of rice with curd,chopped carrots and beetroots mixed with a little lime juice and absolutely no salt.

Anyway, we didn't have cable TV at that time and the thing we did have was a 3x5 foot shelf full of books - from a couple of decaying P.G Wodehouse from the 1940's to Mahabharata in 10 volumes. I got reading and by the end of the summer my brain was exploding with shakespearian prose, wodehousian puns mixed with a greek rendition of mahabharata with the sounds of brass hitting steel.

The defining nature of good fiction is this - The good won, the wicked was punished and everyone else lived happily ever after - it makes you want the underdog to win, the goliath to fall and the boy to get the girl. The Hero despite his failings wins and you feel that you can do the same.

In my list of authors to worship, I've put Douglas Adams on top, Wodehouse a rung below and Frank Herbert on a totally different ladder at the top. I mean anyone who could think of Aorist Rods or Agrajag is someone to worship on a pedastal - Wodehouse wrote too much to actually provide such distilled jokes.

Now I've put two more authors on my list - Tom Holt and Terry Pratchett to the list. Tom Holt is a little bit more sedate of the two, but his Grail Blazers is about Knights who deliver pizzas or the Mirrors 3.1 used by the evil queen which gets hacked by humans and such higher level paradoxes which are funny in their own right. Terry Pratchett is funnier closer up - here's a quote:-

One reason for the bustle was that over large parts of the continent other people preferred to make money without working at all, and since the Disc had yet to develop a music recording industry they were forced to fall back on older, more traditional forms of banditry.

These guys are amazingly hilarious - especially when read in the light of two candles on a dark night after your UPS has run down its battery. What's even more interesting is that these guys actually make some sense - like Douglas Adams did.

You should not use magic because you can't .. you should not magic because you can.

Denying a temptation is the most powerful thing any man can do. Ever seen what a pretty girl does when you actively ignore her ?. First she ignores you, then she tries to get your attention and then finally she'll confront you. Anyway - there's no other way to get them to talk to you first ;)

Anyway - I read, and I read those books last week and I like them - which is what I said about in so many sentences.

By the way, I suggest you read Saki's Shock Tactics or Jerome K Jerome's Three men in a boat (to say nothing of the dog). I think the latter as one of the best book with the most stories in it. Never has digressions taken such a wild ride - I admire Douglas Adams for his digressions, but it can't be said enough that Jerome K Jerome invented that, pretty much from scratch.

That trout lay shattered into a thousand fragments -
I say a thousand, but they may have only been nine hundred.
I did not count them.

Mark Twain's quotes and Oscar Wilde's Model Millionaire are all treasured peices in my memory. All of these are works of art beyond the words they are written - they are more than just sum of the words they are written in. The underlying joke is already in our heads, they just tickle it to make us laugh. That is what makes these the Gods of English literature - they play to the gallery and not to the front row.


Count the legs and divide by two

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 9 years ago I've been watching some episodes of The Coupling, and all I can say is Wow !. These guys are the ultimate sit-com I've ever seen - Subtle and funny. The kind of show you could watch with a six year old and the kid wouldn't understand anything, while you'll be on the floor rolling. It is all about context and referential humor. For example one swallow doesn't make a summer can mean a couple of things.

Also it sticks to my favourite character types - fumbling hero, sure and confident heroine, the strange side-kick and a attention-drawing companion. In H2G2 - Arthur, Trillian, Ford and Zaphod. Here it is Steve, Susan, Jeff and Patrick in those roles. The mix is almost too rich till you add two crazy women to compensate for the guys.

The comedy is unfortunately very surreal - you can't quote it without explaining the context which sort of destroys the joke. The story proceeds from all direction and sort of joins up by the end of the episode. Adult themes are rampant including political jokes : what revolution ?. you guys are in power now. We're the rebels now. and lots more jokes which the British-illiterate won't get.

To top it all off - the show actually has no sex. No, nude women or even semi-nude ones. Just suggestions - like a bunch of remotes with no batteries.

Susan: oh, the batteries must have run out.
* Steve looks inside the remotes
Steve: they appear to have also climbed out.
Susan: hold on a tick, I think I know where I put them
* Susan goes into the bedroom

Now think about it - were they in her alarm clock or her flash light ?. You see the subtlety in the word-play ?. Some stuff is unimitably funny. Here's steve trying to pass off some porno as just being erotica (as in having a plot that cannot be expressed in diagrams).

Jill: Do these movies have plots too ?.
Steve: They are mostly mood peices.
Susan: expressionistic ?
Steve: yes.. yes
Jeff: at the top of their voices
Steve: Jeff, you can stop helping now.

I am pretty sure that if Douglas Adams mixed sex into his books (other than the part about "Thor and Trillian up in the bedroom" , which thor promptly explains as "I was weighing her, flying is a tricky business"). And made a screen play out of it for TV, this is pretty much what you get. It's got the word play, the personalities and just a hint of reality to make it appeal to the loser in us (really, I like Jeff).

All in all, I suggest you read the title again and think what I was talking about.


Placebos work too !!

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 9 years ago I am currently reading a lot of evolutionary science from Richard Dawkins - The Selfish Gene and A Devil's Chaplain. I have much to agree with most of what he says, especially this - science brings to you the awe of knowledge about how something as blunt, cruel and wasteful as natural selection can produce a work of art like the cheetah or the gazelle.

Even more wonderful are his disagreements with Stephen J Gould about what progressive evolution means. Evolution in itself has no purpose - except when dealing with arms race between two evolving species. This is a faux-purpose, which is indirectly influenced by the success of these against each other. Eyes vs Camofluage is the topic of the book Seven Deadly Colors.

Now, where do I disagree. There's a brave man called John Diamond who died of cancer - he wrote "Even cowards get cancer" about how he resisted the whiles of alternative medicine. But what Dawkins fails to see is the power of the placebo - why homeopathy cures people, or why crystals cure cardiac arrythmia. It's been technically proven that placebos work.

Or on the topic of GM seeds. The point where I draw the line at GM is when the companies operate their production from opaque laboratories. I wouldn't mind if I could get and understand the mutations in the GM rice. But until the companies come out into the open and don't club their own employees into acceptance of ethcially unacceptable risks - I'll continue to oppose them very much. Dawkins is not being very pragmatic when he assumes the corporate world speaks the truth - he's too deep into academia to assume that someone would lie about this.

All in all Evolution is a beautiful concept in biology - so sad that I learnt about it after school. I could have made life interesting for my teachers.


Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 9 years ago Every Saint has a past and every Sinner a future

I read the above off the cover of a book - it sounded interesting. I've been walking around in Landmark book store for two nights now. You can't just walk around for 5 odd hours in a book store without accidentally buying a book. In fact, I bought a couple.

I bought the Seven Deadly Colours (ISBN0743259394) and started reading it on Sunday night. The essential magic number of 7 seems to appear out of nowhere a lot of times. 7 Days in a week, 7 Deadly sins, 7 visible colours and 7 distinct musical notes. Anyway the book is about the way colour works in an evolutionary system - about how the eye is just dazzled and cheated by colors. An evolutionary arms race between the eye and colours in nature - from the camflouage of the tiger, to the mimicry of warning colors of the mayfly moth,. the blue tree frogs illusions versus the development of the kestrel's UV vision or the movement detecting eyes of a bush baby. The essential fact being that colour is as much of an evolutionary weapon as the eye is - it is not always sexual selection (selecting the flamboyant male for the reason that he survived inspite of the flamboyance) that guides colors in nature.

I also bought another scientific book - Lucifer's Legacy. This book deals with the essential assymmetry of nature. Why are people left-handed or right-handed. It is interesting to note that the angel of death is always at the left of God - and the word sinister actually means left handed.

Anyway more interesting are the books I didn't buy (for obvious lack of need and cash). Tom Holt's Paint The Dragon . It reminded me of a simpsons episode All Singing, All Dancing when Homer brings home a Clint Eastwood movie - Paint your Dragon with Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin in a musical comedy !. Anyway, the second book was Snow White and the Seven Samurai - a reference to the classical film Seven Samurai (seven again !) . Anyway it was about human hackers messing with the wicked queen's mirror network (Mirrors 3.1).

Thus on the seventh day, he rested. And read a good book.


God's Own Country - In July !!

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 9 years ago

I visited home (Kerala) last week for about 4 days . I got there by a night bus which takes me into the heart of cochin , cutting via the beautiful nilgiris (in the early hours of morning). After waking up as it neared Cochin,I was surprised to see no buses or road blocks these road hogs cause. The private buses in Cochin were on strike.

'T was a dark and gloomy rainy day in cochin. All my cousins were either falling ill, already sick or recovering from viral fever (otherwise known as asian flu). I tried to use the two wheeler for transport around cochin - an idiot with a cycle made me brake hard. I skid nearly four feet and did a tire burning 180 on the main road.

To get away from all this, I started for Trivandrum - my hometown of sorts. Trivandrum central was a mess - full of slushy mud and dark. But at least it was dark at nine in the night. I did sleep really well that night, what with all the travel. Woke up and realized that my college is barricaded by police with water canons and tear gas shells. There's a student riot about the fees charged by colleges owned by private proprietors. There are good things about kerala model socialism - it just concentrated on food and education. Violent and semi-violent protest is just one of the side effects of a strong college union with connections to those in power. The engineering education costs something around 10,000 INR per year - while 6 years back it had cost just over 2000. Anyway, so I come home and watch TV.

Anyway, all in all that visit was about watching TV , away from my cousins so as to not catch the flu. Sadly rain in kerala is nice when you don't have to go out. It's almost like a kodak moment, watching the drops flow down the roof tiles onto the courtyard in the centre of the house .. with nearly 8 cousins sitting around eating dried mango peel and talking about random stuff , playing board games , just being a kid.

I still hope and dream for that nostalgic utopia of childhood.


The third horseman of the apocalypse - a monday war rant

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 9 years ago Ever since the Bush regime started it's war on terror , especially since he has hoodwinked an entire nation (well, at least a majority) into believing that Iraq was about terrorism - america has drawn criticism from it's allies and enemies both. Let me call your attention to the most insightful novel I've ever read - Dune.

Let me repeat - that is a work of pure fiction. But it is very scary to imagine the forces in play there. The Lansraad in Dune is a conclave of the great houses - sort of like our UN assemblies. The essential purpose of the Lansraad is to ensure that the emperor cannot cut out a single great house from that herd and hunt them down with his sardaukar. Essentially a bi-polar world of a single mighty emperor versus a bunch of loosely confederated countries.

Now reflect on the current world. Bush is the emperor - with his army. Every world leader must live in fear that any day they can come knocking on his door - to dispose of a dictator, implement democracy or just to free the people. The noble intentions rarely pan out and often come with a hidden agenda (Iraq was about oil and especially it being traded with Euros ). The benifits seem almost incidental , even accidental.

As a world citizen, it saddens me to see a country which has always carried the stick for the world use it so mercilessly. Removing a dictator is not always in the best interests of democracy, especially if the army stays back to protect. This ranks of neo-colonialism - after all the British did us Indians a favour by uniting us, but did that mainly by pillaging and ruling justly.

The double standards that current America shows in terms of the rest of the world is amazingly stupid and short sighted. For a country living pretty much completely on a credit economy - it is either planning to go bankrupt or do what all those liberated russian sattelites did (devalue currency, pay back debts and get out). Desperate measures are called for, which seems to be what the leaders are doing. Just like the worksman who has pawned his tools on friday, america is going through the rich for the weekend period of it's life. Come monday, he's starving and worse for the weekend. Like all those wierdos on the street, let me say this - The end is coming. After all you can't bully everyone all the time, they'll just wait till you are down and kick you hard.

The standard reply I get from an american when I express this opinion is :- if everyone hates america so much, why do they queue up for a visa before you could say Apu Nahasapeemapetilon ?. My rhetoric question is - Would you rather be the guy getting beat or the one the one with the big stick ? . Most people I know wouldn't take a chance with the former. The I'm with the winning side attitude is so common with the spineless worker of this world. Add another layer to the foren-returnee wedding cake and you have an answer.

Lastly, let me quote a very notorious person's opinion about mass manipulation.

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

-- Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

Please look around and tell me I'm wrong about all this. I don't want it to be this way - but I'm not good at these self delusions.

C'est la vie *sigh*.


APC for PHP5 !!

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 9 years ago If my dear reader would go through apc notice - you'll notice that the following lines are of interest.

PHP5 support and major features by:
Arun C. Murthy
Gopal Vijayaraghavan
Rasmus Lerdorf

It's a pleasure to be mentioned in the same list as Rasmus. More interestingly it was part of my day job (eventhough I slack off during the day). So in effect I was paid to write open source !.

All in all, a very productive two week's of hard work !.


Simpsons overload - maximum Homerdrive !!

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 9 years ago Ever since saturday night, I've been watching Simpsons - mainly seasons 9 and 10. It is really funny how those guys manage to twist seemingly normal behavior. For example take the following conversation.

Homer: Hey, that's super. See you later.
Lisa: Dad, don't you remember? It's our special Saturday.
Marge: You agreed to spend one Saturday a month doing something
with the kids.
Homer: Ohhh. [slaps forehead]
Homer: Okay, Bart, it's your turn to pick, where are we headed?
Bowling? Demolition derby? P. J. O'Harrigan's?
Bart: Hysterical, but I traded my turn to Lisa for her dessert.
Homer: D'oh! But we did a Lisa thing last month -- [notices
Marge glaring at him, and changes to a happier tone of
voice] -- and I'm glad we did. But now I think we should
do something that normal people would like.
Lisa: Why do you assume that I won't pick something fun? Let's
see ... [leafs through newspaper] Oh, this looks very
Homer: [groans]
Homer: [to Bart] This is all your fault for trading away your
turn. Just for that, no dessert tonight.
Bart: [to Lisa] Trade you my next turn for your dessert.
Lisa: Deal.
Homer: D'oh!

These guys are just amazing. Also they get all kinds of people to do voices for them. For example , in the episode with the superbowl - they had Rupert Murdoch and Dolly Parton give voice as themselves.

Truly amazing stuff. Stuff like in the episode with the Bi-Mon Sci-Fi Con , you can find kids wearing Futurama tshirts, the police box from Doctor Who - even Tom Baker (the ever loved doctor). Not to mention the favourite - Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) actually endorsing Sprint over AT & T on stage with light saber instead of a laser pointer (oh, how the mighty have fallen, that..). To top it off we see Mark Hammil sing Luke, be a jedi tonight in a top hat (with a light saber instead of the typical vaudeville walking stick).

Simpsons used to air at 5:30 pm every day - which meant that I only got a sparing dose of the cynical satire and that too only on days when I got home on 5. But seeing two or three a day has really kicked it up into high gear. The part that is very interesting about the stories is that half the humor is referential - same things we see in real life , but only from a different perspective.

If Douglas Adams had lived, I think he'd have enjoyed Simpsons. Call it wishful thinking, but I think he himself would have worked on a H2G2 spoof episode with Matt Groening. Even I can imagine how that would go - but I like to be surprised.

Simpsons is the best cartoon series for adults that I've EVER seen.


Whiskey Tango Fox - I mean, seriously !!

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 9 years ago Unless you are a Nato radio operator or someone who reads slashdot a lot, you won't realize what Whiskey, Tango and Fox have in common. But it is an acronym gone bad - WTF.

Now that WTF is common parlance, everyone uses them - though they'd still write $#!@%& for some other profanity. This is the bad thing about Euphemisms.

In this politically correct world , euphemisms take up around half of my entire vocabulary. Anybody who has seen an Austin Powers movie must have heard the term Shag or those who watched Friends (ever so carefully) must have heard Tush at least once.

Euphemisms don't really make offensive words less offensive - they also try to make fun of the other guy's ignorance in another way (In-duh-vidual ?). They remind me of these old people talking stuff spelled out - let's give the B-A-B-Y a bath (ha, back to our acrony expansion thingy). Anyway, they're not better or worse than the original words.

Whatever !

PS: I was seeing Friends (re-re-re run) last night and there was Chandler getting a new bracelet from Joey.
Joey: "You just watch what this does to your sex life"
Chandler: "It'll slow me down for the first couple of days, then I'll get used to the extra weight"


The third more improbable event in history ?

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 9 years ago Ok, let's take a look at what's happened recently .

  • Microsoft brings out Win2K for PPC
  • Apple brings out OS X for x86

What's the deal people ?.. What are you guys doing ?. Now if only the third most improbable thing would happen - pigs with six feet wings.


Is Full House Reality TV ?.

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 9 years ago I was home this weekend and was watching a re-re-re-re-run of a dated episode of Full House. What really interested me was the realism of the entire series - how they could make jokes without anything a kid of twelve couldn't watch. I just love this one more than Friends (maybe not more than I love Simpsons) - having more than enough free time (power outage) , I began discussing with my sister about a big Why ?

The stars :-

Well, what do you know - this could read the other way too. John Stamos is a singer, played with the Beach Boys. Dave Coulier is the member of a Comedy troupe called Ducksbreath Mystery Theater (*yech*). Unfortunately, Lori Loughlin was an Elite Model (1982), but carries out the wife role really nicely. And the three kids are really real kids - with the flashy older one, clever youngster and cute baby cliche in place. Not to mention the fact that Bob Saget has 3 daughters in real life. And John Stamos did really date Lori Loughlin for some time before he married a real Becky.

That folks is all what Reality TV is all about. And I love it !!.


Screwing up - it's my gift, it's my curse

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 9 years ago If everyone in this world has a special skill then mine should be an unerring ability to screw up. I've managed to make mistakes which are impossible to fix and impossible to duplicate. Truthfully I don't know how I do it, but it does. Something like : You can't make anything foolproof, because fools are so ingenious. Let me give you an example.

When you enter 'DDDD' into my old ericsson phone's addressbook it completely freezes. The really strange part is that to press 'D' it takes 4 keystrokes, it's not the easiest or the simplest to type. But somehow I managed to screw up there.

Literally anything I touch fails , misbehaves or breaks. I used to be the nightmare for my managers when I was in Q&A. I combine a naive curiousity and a wanton destructive attitude to proactively screw up. My old webpage had an article on how engineers just love solving problems that if there are none available handy, they will go out of their way to create a few - just for kicks. I think I was very close to reality there.

The only good part is that these days I know it before I screw up. I might have a tinge of prescience or it might just be my allergy acting up. After all the good thing about being a pessimist is that you are never disappointed.

That was supposed to be the PREVIEW button .. aah !


Eternal Now of the Present

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 9 years ago Another birthday, Another year - and Time flys, doesn't it. I am now chronologically 23 , but I am still that sixteen year old short, weak kneed boy inside. Having completed an extraordinarily average 23 years of my life, I feel I've done fairly well in Chapter Zero of my life.

If I could have my way, I wouldn't have any more birthdays. The sickening sensation of having wasted YET another year doing nothing important is too much to bear. And back in your head someone is saying "this might be your last year on earth, use it wisely"... all the resolutions I haven't kept and the ones I've kept come back to haunt my sense of person.

I have no illusions of immortality, but the Eternal Now of the present has me in it's grasp.


Star Wars - why did it go wrong ?.

Gopal.V Gopal.V writes  |  more than 9 years ago

With Revenge Of the Sith coming out soon, I was looking back at Star Wars. I saw Star Wars sometime during a weekend sometime in 1999 and I was very strongly affected by the story - and I'll tell you why in a while. The newest episodes have lost the basic something that the original had (Terminator is the only sequel I have liked as much as the original - Matrix was the biggest disappointment)

The Force : It was pure magic - nobody really explained it. That was what was so cool about the force. Midichlorians was a stupid mistake by Lucas. For me the most memorable quote about the force is this -

Luke: I don't... I don't believe it.
Yoda: That is why you fail.

The story essentially deals with the Greyness of the world - the two sides of Anniken Skywalker - The Jedi and Darth Vader. All good movies deal with a bad guy going good - but this one deals with the opposite and still manages to make it click. Memorable quote #2 -

Luke: He told me enough. He told me you killed him.
Darth Vader: No. I am your father.
Luke: No. That's not true. That's impossible.
Darth Vader: Search your feelings you know it to be true.
Luke: Nooooo. Nooooo.

The inevitability of the Good vs Evil battle breaks down here - Paradoxes are what makes us think, everything else is in pretty much black and white. (think about an anti-slavery terrorist). The entire movie was about the struggle of Good against Evil - an inner turmoil that is fought out without light sabers or cool sound effects.

Penny Arcade was right when it put this down - Not Your Father's Trilogy. The later versions don't have the sarcasm, humor or conflict that the first one had.

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