Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The moving hand..having stopped, moves on..

I found Live Journal to be better than this place, so I've decided to go there: Lock, stock and two smoking barrels!

Monday, June 14, 2004

Llook at this llovely llimerick

(e)LLeven LLovely LLamas LLicking LLuscious LLollipops
Okay, so it isn't a limerick. But it just popped into my head this morning on the way to work.
What was I smoking when I came up with this you wonder?
After effects of last night's 2000 dB headphone blast session, one of the songs being Pale 3's 'In my head'.
What have I achieved since 1 am? Episode 3 of Cowboy Bebop! Boy, talk about anime obsession...
Now that's something to look forward to when I go home in the evening.

Headbanging and driving up the wall...of sanity

Sometime ago, I discovered a hidden appetite for the whole heavy metal/techno thing...you know, wailing high pitched guitar that would give a bat a monster headache, thumping, cardiac fibrillation inducing bass, and best of all...a sultry female lead instead of the mandatory 'I've-stepped-on-a-thumbtack' level of screaming that usually accompanies such numbers. The band I'm talking about is Kidney Thieves, an industrial rock/heavy metal band, whose vocalist, Free Dominguez (that's her name) totally rulez.
The tracks I liked best are 'Zerospace', 'Black bullet' and 'Before i'm dead'
I recently got a set of large headphones, the kind that let you enjoy a nice cerebral haemorrhage without being interrupted by mundane things like thermonuclear explosions.
Now it's Zion...the techno track that the savages..er, humans in the 'real' world jive to in anticipation of the locust swarm of squiddies that's about to attack them in 'Matrix Reloaded'

The one other thing that I truly enjoy is being a road warrior...as much as I can in my geriatric Zen (Suzuki 0.8 L compact front wheel drive, for the uninititated). Ph3aR mE when I'm driving this grandma around 10 pm however...I've made her climax in ways she couldn't dream of (now don't quote me out of context :-) )
Usually my favorite driving position is with any of the following blasting out of the already worn out speakers : Prodigy, U2, Enigma (MCMxC a.D) and Robert Miles. (Princess of Light is great to drive to.)

A lot of amateur music in non MP3 formats is great..check out the mod archive. Look out for IsoToxin by Necros...the track was used in one of the maps of the original Unreal Tournament.

If I could only get Kidney Thieves on cassettes....I'll probably be unable to see traffic signals properly on account of the red shift.
Einstein would be proud. Schumi, dream on ;-)

"It's just one of those days..." (Limp Bizkit)

Woke up today with a mother of a hangover, and i don't even drink. That's what happens when you sit up late night watching Cowboy Bebop when it's just been downloaded. Then again, it was worth it, I liked it, nice anime. Plan to get the rest of the episodes too.
A lame attempt at catching up on sleep in the car (it's nice being driven to work) , and most of the day spent in unravelling the mysteries of the LDAP protocol (sounds super geeky right? Relatively speaking, it is)

Didn't have much success though...wading through stuff like dn=somename,ou=someothername when the blood in your caffeine supply...i mean the other way round... is low.
And the coffee here sucks. When someone is accustomed to fresh south indian coffee...a crappy Nescafe dispenser that serves boiled saccharined water masquerading as the real stuff does little justice.

Fresh mango juice on a hot day is your friend! Especially when it's got yummy raisins and other tasty bits on the top.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Computers and common sense

To quote from the site that this post is about: "It's a baffling phenomenon that in today's society an individual, who might in other circumstances be considered smart and wise, can sit down in front of a computer screen and instantly lose every last shred of common sense he ever possessed."
The site here is about all sorts of stupid questions and incidents involving computers, including the famous one about the guy who thought his CDROM tray was a cup holder. Here lies the paradox-In the beginning, computers were enormous machines that cost millions of dollars and required a PhD to operate. Even in the eighties, the non Macintosh world (which is quite large) was stuck on a clunky command line interface, (read DOS) which was anything but friendly. A lay person had to memorize cryptic commands to do even simple stuff. The 90's ushered in Windows, which has come a long way since then-from 3.1 to 95, 98 and now XP. Today's PC is vastly superior and much more friendly and intuitive to use than what was there earlier.
Yet people crap out the moment they have to use something.
The icon based interface was supposed to be intuitive. Infact, the whole point of a GUI system is you can easily explore menus, just SEE what all is possible. Here's an example-if I want to put a picture, or a hyperlink in a Word document-what do I do? Theres an 'Insert..' menu at the top-where logically i would go if i wanted to insert SOMETHING. Once I open it, I specify what. Does it require such an exertion of mental muscle to do this? But it happens all the time-people sit and expect their computer will do everything for them. They will, someday, but as of now, a little intellect on the users part is whats required.

In my experience, the people who complain the most about computers hanging or being unable to 'understand' computers, who think you're some sort of super guru because you know how to set the default font for sending mail in Outlook Express-are the ones who either severely lack common sense, or whose brain short circuits the moment they see a computer.
Conversely, there are others I know, who by themselves would not call themselves as techies or geeks, but who are at least comfortable with computers to know how to get by. They would not know enough to say, troubleshoot faulty hardware, or edit the registry, but can get by with day to day stuff: creating shortcuts for working efficiently, or knowing about skins to customize winamp, etc.
Since I get called to help with computer problems-I can see the difference: The 'high common sense' category of people only call me if it's really something they can't figure out: file associations gone bad, or viruses and so on. And once I teach them how to fix the problem, they manage to do it by themselves in future.
That's another characteristic: willingness to learn. Agreed, not everyone has the time or inclination to figure out stuff-but is it so hard to remember the edict "Thou shall not open unsolicited email attachments" and "Thou shall not use (insert name of common adware/spyware program here) " ?

There's another thing: error messages. If you want technical support-the least you can do is take down whatever error messages crop up. Assuming the language you understand is English, why do people act paralyzed and terror stricken whenever their computer shows them an error message? Whenever I ask them what the hell popped up, the stock reply is 'some error message' or 'I didn't read it'
One cannot solve computer problems, especially over the phone, by using clairvoyance.

To this end, I've created a set of ten commandments for using windows.
Wish more people would follow these.

Monday, June 07, 2004

What is it that makes some people tick? Why do I wish that the ticking for some people could be attributed to a stopwatch wired to a stick of dynamite taped to their backside? It's funny how many people love being told what they are like, or being 'mind read'. Perhaps it's this mania for observation that drives reality TV and similar stuff. An old way, but still effective, of getting to know people-read up on topics like astrology, body language, handwriting recognition and use these skills during conversations.
One needn't be absolutely accurate in these predictions, even a general remark about someone being 'like a Virgo' elicits immediate interest.
Apart from the social angle, what I enjoy about these things is the sense of power it bestows. Mao Zedong once said that power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. Beats spanish fly anyway.
In India, we appear to have a cultural fascination with soothsayers and the future. All 'arranged' Indian marriages occur only after that great ritual of 'horrorscope matching' , which often results in more post nuptial horrors than anything else.
Some of our politicians , even famous generals of the past, have never proceeded on any important mission without checking the alignment of stars, or setting an 'auspicious time'.
Crystal ball gazing therefore, comes as a natural interest for us.
So where was I? Yes-making people tick. Yeah. Tell em what they want to hear and they'll listen for hours.
Actually, come to think of it, if you get to be good at it, it can also help hazard a guess about how people will react, or behave. So, by that token, not all Leos you meet would be haughty, nor all Geminis two faced, but it pays to keep that at the back of one's mind...
(Leos and Geminis reading this post, no offence)

Note to self: Late afternoon on a full stomach isn't a good time for blogging.

Friday, June 04, 2004

I've always been a complete fan of the Matrix movies. To atone for the sin of not having seen the first two movies when they hit theatres, I went on opening day to watch Revolutions. Over the five years since the first release, I've felt myself change towards the phenomenon in stages-first, complete bewilderment at the first movie-it took me 2 more viewings on a badly scratched VCD before I 'got' it. While people have nitpicked on the first being the best of the lot, and Revolutions the worst, with reloaded falling in between, to me, all the three movies fit together as in a jigsaw puzzle, along with the Animatrix stories (To be precise, The Second Renaissance, The Kid and Final Flight of the Osiris)-to present an open ended picture of the entire saga.
I have seen the Matrix evolve into a complete subculture, embracing elements of all kinds of philosophy, from Judeo-christian and hindu references to the cyberpunk and anime sub genres. The Matrix phenomenon to me, excels in the multiplicity of metaphors that one can derive from it. Infact, that would be the core strength of the series,
even the endleaves you pondering whether Neo will resurrect, or the truce will last.(END SPOILER ALERT!)

Ultimately, the series offers the greatest form of escapism that ever could be. Picture Thomas Anderson, aka Neo, in his desk job as programmer at 'a respectable software company' called MetaCortex-another Dilbert stuck in a warren of cubicles, living out his parallel life online, where he can transcend the drudgery of his existence. One phone call on a Nokia 7110 that gets FedExed to him instantly changes his life beyond comprehension: his former colleagues could not in their wildest dreams imagine his being the one, much less know about the matrix.
At one level, each person wants some sort of release, some sort of escape from routine, to 'a world where there are no rules'.
A place where your 'residual self image' is sufficient to overcome all physical and mental barriers.
Notice how Neo's skills evolve through the three movies: the slow realization of his powers when he resurrects at the end of the first movie, to the confidence with which he addresses the machina when telling it that he alone can counter Smith in exchange for peace...
Perhaps that's the hidden message here (my interpretation of the metaphor)-you truly can be all you can be if you only try. Sure, dodging bullets may not be possible, but one has to be confident of oneself and shatter the glass wall (matrix cocoon?) that limits us.

(hehe..and rise into the waiting arms of a squiddy bot)