Sunday, December 28, 2008

Random thoughts... about 2008

I have seen people who write in their Orkut profiles, "I'm cool" or "I'm hot". I've even seen some guy who has written both. I am neither hot guy, nor cool. My body temperature remains normal at 37°C, unless I'm sick. And I am still trying to understand the meaning of hot and cool. Guys (and girls, if there are any), help me out here!

When I stay alone, I think. Not that I don't when I'm with others, but I believe solitude is the time when I get time to introspect, think about myself. It's the time when I laugh at myself for my foolishness. It's the time when I realize my mistakes. It's the time I repent for my mischievous behaviours and misdeeds.

People change. Not because Barack Obama has asked for it, but they change for a reason. They change when they grow. They change when they get good marks in classes. They change when they get awards. They change when they get good jobs. People change when they get new friends. And they change, abruptly, when they get girlfriends. They change when they marry. Amidst all these changes, people remain friends.

About two and a half years back I, along with Suri, started blogging. Then, it was just like a collection of some interesting and funny mails which I was getting. After a couple of posts, I found it useless and I stopped blogging. But Suri was very serious about it. He was literally going through all sorts of websites, from Technorati to hit-counters, from problogger to pre-blogger. Every night (yes, not day. Courtesy: BSNL Sancharnet) we used to chat hours together. That's the time people started calling me Goobe (owl). I still wonder how Suri escaped from that title. He used to talk about blogging, blogging and blogging. Eventually he was able to pull me into it. So I restarted blogging in 2007, wishing everyone a happy new year. I started writing posts at the rate of one per day. Suri read it. After continuing it for two weeks, I started showing my laziness and procrastination. The frequency of my posts started decreasing.

In spite of all this, my blog has more than 75 feed readers and has recently crossed 50000 hits. Not an award-winning achievement, but I think it is quite decent for a blogger like me, who posts once in three months. I thank all my readers, friends and those who have supported and backed me during times, good and bad.

2008 to 2009
2008 has been a year when I started working as an engineer (well, although I joined in 2007, we just had training), something which I dreamt right from my childhood. Apart from that, this year has been a year of ups & downs, just like every other year. I'm sure 2009 will also be like that. But we have forget the bad, cherish the good, and move on.

I wish you a very happy new year.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Code for Factorial, without Recursion

After having been declared to be an impregnable procrastinator by all my close-circle friends, after being connoted to update it by those who I didn't even know were reading my blog and after being told "Enough is enough, now update it buddy" by a few friends, I am in the same situation as the Indian government after the Mumbai attacks. I have no other go than updating it, at least for the sake of hushing them up till the next terror attack near my house. So here I go...

As you might already be knowing, I prefer calling programming an art to calling it a process. That's the reason I enjoy it.

Coming to the point, my friend cum colleague was trying to write a program for generating Pascal Triangle. I decided to play along and wrote a code. In the process, I wrote a function to calculate factorial for a number in an unusual way, without recursion.

Generally an incremental loop is used from 2 to N. But I used decrementing loop and here is the outcome (Code written in C programming language):

unsigned int fact(unsigned int n)
{
unsigned int f=n;

while(n---2)
f*=n;
return f;
}

Main thing I wanted to convey in this code is the while loop, which uses the unusual "--" & "-" operator pair.

It works similar to this loop:

for(f=n;n>=2;n--)
f=f*n;

Not a great piece of code, but I found it to be a little interesting. Hence the post.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Reviews - A Wednesday and Rock On!!

I never thought I would be writing a movie review in my blog. But after watching these two movies, Rock On!! and A Wednesday, (particularly the latter) I can't refrain myself from commenting on them. They are so good that you would regret if you don't watch them.

Rock On


Rock On!! is all about a music band called Magik. Four men with a common aim join their hands together to realize their dreams. But, being amiss on a small issue, they depart. How they reunite and how one can lose his felicity is the gist of the story. It reflects everyone's life because of its flash-backs which push everyone to his vernal days.

A wednesday


A wednesday, on the other side, is completely different. No hero, no heroine and no songs. Not a typical bollywood movie at all. However, it catches attention right from first scene to the last with its tight storyline and outstanding acting by every single artist. Naseeruddin Shah steals the show with his natural performance. This terrorism-based story revolves around Naseeruddin Shah, who calls Anupam Kher (police officer) with specific demands. It's a small movie (by bollywood standards, with only a runtime of around 95 minutes) but with a big impact. It reflects the minds of the Indians and despises the corrupted Indian administration system.

I don't want to spoil your interest by telling more about these movies. On a scale of 5, I would provide a rating of 3.5 to Rock On!! and 4.5 to A wednesday.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Face Recognition - Ultimate feature of Picasa

A picture speaks thousand words. The internet is becoming full of images. Google seems to have found future in the cutting edge face recognition for the images. It has introduced face recognition for the photos uploaded by the users. If you have not explored this feature, I say, the right time is NOW! I am balled over in the first attempt itself!!

  1. Select New Features at the top right.
  2. Select See name tags in action.
  3. Click Get started with name tags.
  4. Click Try It in the right pane.
  5. Click Start Processing photos.
Wait for some time. Picasa will scan all your photos and index all the faces found. It starts asking you the name of the person in the photos. The best thing is that it selects a bunch of photos, and all of them will be of the same person and its Suggestion is just marvellous. Most of the times, you don't even have to think before selecting the first suggestion. I can't explain the greatness of this feature in words here. Just use it and experience!!

PS: Google has already rolled out a hidden feature of face recognition in its image search. When you search for an image, say Sachin, the url of the image will be something like http://images.google.com/images?q=sachin. You can add &imgtype=face at the end of the URL, i.e., http://images.google.com/images?q=sachin&imgtype=face to find only images containing face.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Serial Bomb Blasts in Bangalore?

Bangalore was considered to be a safe place so far. But with the serial bomb blasts in Madiwala and surrounding places, I doubt it can continue to be so. News is spreading and details are not known.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Top reason to adopt Firefox

We have been hearing, right from its introduction, that Firefox is the most secure browser. But many of us haven't bothered to know why is is deemed so. I am not going to explain about all those features which make it safer than other browsers, say Internet Explorer. I just thought I would share an experience which happened today, which can be considered to be the top reason to adopt Mozilla Firefox.

I got a mail from an unknown email id, pointing me to a blog. When I clicked that link, it redirected me to another site, http://www.posokei.com and to my surprise, a message popped up from the address bar, with title Suspecting Web Forgery.



It also provided a brief detail about the site and why that site has been classified as a phishing site. This means that the user is made fully aware of the site before he proceeds to browse it. Prevention is better than cure. Is it not be best reason to use firefox?

You can read about phishing protection in Firefox here

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Google introduces Hindi translation

It has was a long wait, but well deserved. So far we were not able to dynamically translate text to any Indian language. Google has finally done it by introducing translation for Hindi. You can now translate any text or web page from English to Hindi or from Hindi to English. We can expect translation to and from other Indian languages also soon.

Although it is not perfect, I'm sure it will improve quickly. Be sure to improve the translation if you find a better word/sentence when you are using it!

Earlier introduced transliteration tool, which supported dynamic transliteration to Indian languages like Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam, which reduced the popularity of software based transliteration tools like Baraha.

I hope to see the translation expanded to include other languages also.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Free Linux or Paid Windows? - Time for a change


Linux or Windows

Ask anyone who has used Linux operating system for a while and you'll receive all but positive responses about Microsoft Windows. Some people even tell that they hate to use Winodws. Why is it so? Are they crazy to think Linux is more user-friendly than Windows? But wait, since they have used both Linux and Windows for long enough to be able to compare them, there must be something true about it, right?

If you want to compare Microsoft Windows Vista and Ubuntu, a flavour of Linux see this video:



See the difference? People who admired the graphics and visualization abilities of Windows Vista when it entered the market, are now blaming it for using huge resources. When Linux can do it in a better way for free with much less system resources, why pay Microsoft for doing it pathetically? Whenever we hear about Linux, we hear that it is more secure, powerful, server-class operating system. Moreover, Linux is completely free. No need of purchasing, applying the key, activating blah-blah. Then why is it not as popular as Windows? The only reason I can think of might be due to its installation, which is not as straight forward as that of Windows. But believe me, it is not very hard to learn. One more thing: as a Vista user, I hereby declare that VISTA SUCKS!

A good news, if you are willing to switch to Linux: Ubuntu gives FREE CDs. No shipping charges also. All you need to do is to register yourself and request for it!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Google English? Unexecuted Google's April Fool Prank?

Observe this image carefully (click to enlarge if you don't see enough details)

Google English

You can note a few points here:
  1. Address of the page is www.orkut.com, not www.google.com.
  2. Google logo has "English" as its subscript.
Now a little bit of flashback. About two weeks ago, on March 27th at 5:59 PM to be exact, I opened Orkut. But to my surprise, Google opened instead of Orkut! I tried refreshing for about two three minutes and the same thing happened again and again. I immediately captured a screenshot, which is what you just saw above. Orkut came back to normalcy soon after that.

Google is well known for April Fool pranks. It might have been one of their ideas, which was taken back. But I don't have any information on anything called Google English, so I can't say much about it.

UPDATE: I've been able to find that the mentioned webpage is having the IP Address 64.233.169.104. I will try to get more information about this.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Airtel Customer (Don't) Care: As useless as ever

When does a person get frustrated to the core? Probably when he badly needs some help and no one around is ready to assist. Airtel Customer Care is one such call centre which is determined enough to put you in such a hopeless situation.
airtel depress yourself customer care
I do have reason to be spilling my anguish here about Airtel's customer care service. There are many incidents which clearly indicate that Airtel is much interested in cheating its customers.

Incident #1: Connection not deactivated
My friend, who had an Airtel corporate connection in Bangalore, got transferred to Hyderabad. Since he didn't need this postpaid connection any more, he filled an application to cancel the connection and asked me get it deactivated. I went to their office (none of their executives, who come running to give you a new connection, would come to take the disconnection form) around January 20th and gave the application form. They took the application along with the outstanding amount and stated that the connection will be deactivated within two working days. However, after about 20 days, a bill was sent for that connection. When I called the customer care, they told that the application itself hasn't been received! So I gave the bill number of the outstanding amount which I had payed and also told details about the office where I had given the application. They also gave a complaint number and assured the same thing: the connection will be deactivated within two working days. Then again, as usual, I got the bill for the month of February in March. I called the customer care again and censured them about the issue. Again the ready reply came: it will surely be deactivated within 48 hours. I am still waiting for the disconnection of that SIM.

Incident #2: Security Deposit not returned
Another colleague of my friend, who was also transferred to Hyderabad, had given an application to deactivate. But the Airtel people didn't deactivate it and in the next month, they deducted security deposit of Rs. 300/- and deactivated. As he is not insane to come to Bangalore by spending more than Rs. 300/- to get Rs. 300/- back, the money will permanently be with Airtel.

Incident #3: SIM Deactivated because of failed address verification
Airtel address verifiers are not Pizza boys to always find the correct address within half an hour. But don't be under the impression that they will try their level best to find the place. Airtel will simply deactivate your SIM giving failed address verification as the reason. If you call customer care you'll get the ready answer again: Sorry for inconvenience sir. Our person will come today evening and verify your address. This happened with my colleague just three days back and after calling customer care and getting the before said answer every day, today the concerned person came to our office, and gave the report as house address is verified. He told that the SIM will be reactivated by today evening, but you know, I have my doubts!

This is not the end of the list. There are many more similar experiences. According to Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), Airtel is having maximum subscriber base in Karnataka. If it's customer care service is so useless here itself, I can't help but feel sorry for the Airtel customers in other places.

One more point to be noted is, it is not only Airtel which follows such a nasty purview with the customers. Apparently Hutch (now Vodafone) and other operators also do the same thing. Sometimes I feel as though having a mobile phone itself is a sin. What is the need of these helplines if they can't even resolve even simplest of the requests raised by the user, let alone extreme technical issues. In my opinion, such call centres should be referred as Customer Don't Cares instead of Customer Cares. They seem to know that the best service is no service. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bannerghatta National Park

Staying at home during weekends is one of the things I hate the most. I meet friends or go for shopping or jaunt around various places in and around Bengalooru (Bangalore). Incidentally, it happens that my roommate and friends are also like-minded, which makes us explore many different places around Bengalooru. Bannerghatta National Park is the first place we chose to mark the beginning of our expedition. Situated at a distance of 22 km from Bengalooru and covering about 25,000 acres of hilly region, Bannerghatta National Park is an important National Park in India one must not fail to visit if you visit Karnataka.

Bannerghatta, Karnataka

Deciding to go to Bannerghatta, we aggregated some information about it. We learnt that Bannerghtta National Park remains closed on Tuesday. One can go either by BMTC buses or by private vehicle. Since there are a lot of buses at regular intervals to Bannerghatta from Majestic, BMTC is preferable. On a fine Saturday morning of 24th November 2007, we left home at 8 in the morning and reached Bannerghatta at about 10:15. We had to stand in a queue to get tickets for the safari and the zoo. Since we had gone during weekends, we had to pay a little extra for the tickets.

Bannerghatta National Park

We started off with the safari. Meshed vehicles of the forest department do a good job of taking you to various parts of the Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) amidst a myriad of wild animals like lions, tigers etc. roaming freely in the dense forest terrain. You might even get a feeling of being inside a bone in zoo and all the animals coming and visiting you from outside. Those 45 minutes were truly memorable!

Bannerghatta White Tiger

Bannerghatta Lion

Bannerghatta Elephants

After finishing our safari, we proceeded to the zoo where many other not-so-wild animals and birds are kept. It was an exhaustive collection. Later we moved to aquarium. Maintenance of the aquarium is good. Delighted by the diverse and colourful birds and fishes, we went ahead to the Reptile Park.

Bannerghatta Bird

Bannerghatta White Peacock

Bannerghatta Aquarium Fish

Bannerghatta Aquarium Fish

Bannerghatta Aquarium Fish


We had no idea that there are so many types of reptiles! I didn't know the names of most of the reptiles except snakes and crocodiles etc. We came to know why Bannerghatta is so famous for its Reptile Park. We literally got exhausted by the end of it.

Bannerghatta Reptile

Bannerghatta Reptile

It was already past 2 O'clock in the afternoon and it was time for lunch. So we thought of having food. There are shops and hotels just outside the National Park. We had a nice lunch. Our visit wasn't over since we hadn't visited the Butterfly Park yet.

Bannerghatta Butterfly Park


We took tickets to the Butterfly Park. Butterfly Park is is a kind of unique zoo I have ever seen. It's the first of its kind in India. It's a doom shaped closed space in which various class of butterflies are maintained. Informative paintings are drawn on the walls of museum adjacent to the park. You can learn almost everything about the butterflies in that museum. If you are still curious, you can even watch a video show which gives more in-depth information about these idyllic species.

Bannerghatta Butterfly Park

Bannerghatta Butterfly Park

Bannerghatta Butterfly Park


There are many other places if you want to trek. But we were really, really exhausted. So we decided to come back. All in all, it was an unforgettable outing. If you are bored of the intricacies of the city life and if you badly need to experience the diversity in flora and fauna of the nature without traveling too far, then Bannerghatta is the right place you should consider going to.

UPDATE:
My friends have asked for a few more details, which I thought are worth mentioning here (Some points are already mentioned in the article, but I've listed them here again for the sake of completeness):
  • BMTC bus service to Bannerghatta is very good. BMTC also provides Volvo (A/C) buses.
  • You need to pay a nominal fee if you want to take photographs in the Bannerghatta National Park as well as in the Butterfly Park.
  • Entrance and photography tickets are separate for the Zoo/Safari and the Butterfly Park.
  • Entrance fees are a more on weekends and holidays.
  • You get chats and cold drinks inside the zoo as well as outside the entrance.
  • On Tuesdays, Bannerghatta National Park remains closed.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

How to stop or reduce Spam Emails

One can be as happy as he wants. But the same statement may not apply to Internet users, thanks to spam emails. Although there is no foolproof way to stop spams, we can reduce the amount of spams by being a bit careful.

The first thing before attacking is to understand the enemy and its strength. What is spam? We may call it junk mail, spam or whatever else you fancy, its property remains to be the same: it's unsolicited and it's useless. Most often than not, spams get generated from bots, viruses and automated mailing lists. In the rare cases, they are also caused my human users which, quite often, happen to be the most irritating kind of spam generators. It is observed that around 80% of the email messages exchanged are spams!. How disgusting!!

Take, for example, an incident which happened recently. One of my friends sent a mail to a large number of recepients. But one of those recepients was not an intended person. That person used Reply All and asked my friend to remove him from his mailing list. Well, you can guess what happened. All of us got the reply email which was intended only for my friend. Thankfully the chapter ended there itself. To get a hint of what can happen in such cases, see how to look stupid.

What is the solution for this? It's simple: We have to be in the right mind and know when to use Reply and when to use Reply All. As a rule of thumb, we should NEVER use Reply All unless we are 100% sure about what we are doing.

Instead of relying on others, another way to prevent such incidents is to be cautious enough not to disclose the email addresses to the recepients at all. It can be easily done by adding the addresses to BCC (Blind Courtesy Copy or Blind Carbon Copy) field instead of TO or CC fields. Unfortunately BCC field ranks top among the most obscure and unused standard feature of email!

The features discussed above are only for mails generated by humans. What about those spam emails which get generated by malwares and bots? Such spam emails are mainly the means for advertising products. More the number of recepients, more the number of customers. But how do they get the email ids? It's directly or indirectly by ourselves. We may have inadverently given our email ids to some website or it might have gone there by one of our friends. We need to be extra careful if we want to be at a distance from spams.

Also it is a good idea to remove the sender's information while forwarding an email to others. It not only protects your privacy, but also prevents any potential spammer to use the email addresses in the body of the mail to be used for unsolicited mailings.

Virtually there is no way to stop such emails if you are already receiving them. Precaution is better than cure is the mantra to be followed here. When we give out our email ids to some third party web sites, we need to be extra careful. Never give your email id to any unknown public mailing lists. You never know who shares your email id with spammers!

Another way to detect and filtering out spams is to give plus or minus addressing. You can use different tags for different mailing lists and if you start receiving spams, you can come to know who shared your email address with the spammers. Read more about spam control by plus addressing technique here.

Is that all? Not quite. One of the most common mistakes done by many people is to use their email addresses in their signatures. You may think that is going to make you more famous in the online world. But remember, for one genuine email you get by displaying your email id there, you start receiving hundreds of spams. Never ever make the mistake of putting email id in web pages, forums or social networking sites. Also, remember never to give away your friends' email ids to sites which ask you to invite them to join it. You may think you are being courteous to your friends by giving their email ids but, in reality, you are making them victims of spam emails.

Last but not the least, as a rule of thumb, don't forward any email message if it explicitly asks you to do so! Stopping spams may not be in our hands, but reducing them really is!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Additional Rules in Cricket

My friend got a mail like this:

After watching the test match, I feel some rules have to be incorporated by ICC to give the other teams a perfect clarification:

  1. Ricky Ponting - (THE TRULY GENUINE CRICKETER OF THE CRICKET ERA AND WHOSE INTEGRITY SHOULD NOT BE DOUBTED) should be considered as the FOURTH UMPIRE. As per the new rules, FOURTH UMPIRE decision is final and will over ride any decisions taken by any other umpires. ON-FIELD umpires can seek the assistance of RICKY PONTING even if he is not on the field. This rule is to be made, so that every team should understand the importance of the FOURTH UMPIRE.

  2. While AUSTRALIAN TEAM is bowling, If the ball flies anywhere close to the AUSTRALIAN FIELDER(WITHIN 5 metre distance), the batsman is to be considered OUT irrelevant of whether the catch was taken cleanly or grassed. Any decision for further clarification should be sought from the FOURTH UMPIRE. This is made to ensure that the cricket is played with SPORTIVE SPIRIT by all the teams.

  3. While BATTING, AUSTRALIAN players will wait for the ON-FIELD UMPIRE decisions only (even if the catch goes to the FIFTH SLIP as the ball might not have touched the bat). Each AUSTRALIAN batsman has to be out FOUR TIMES (minimum) before he can return to the pavilion. In case of THE CRICKETER WITH INTEGRITY, this can be higher.

  4. UMPIRES should consider a huge bonus if an AUSTRALIAN player scores a century. Any wrong decisions can be ignored as they will be paid huge bonus and will receive the backing of the AUSTRALIAN team and board.

  5. All AUSTRALIAN players are eligible to keep commenting about all players on the field and the OPPONENT TEAM should never comment as they will be spoiling the spirit of the AUSTRALIAN team. Any comments made in any other language are to be considered as RACIALISM only.

  6. MATCH REFEREE decisions will be taken purely on the AUSTRALIAN TEAM advices only. Player views from the other teams decisions will not be considered for hearing. MATCH REFEREES are to be given huge bonus if this rule is implemented.

  7. NO VISITING TEAM should plan to win in AUSTRALIA. This is to ensure that the sportive spirit of CRICKET is maintained.

  8. THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE: If any bowler gets RICKY PONTING - "THE UNDISPUTED CRICKETER WITH INTEGTIRY IN THE GAME OF CRICKET" more than twice in a series, he will be banned for the REST OF THE SERIES. This is to ensure that the best batsman/Captain will be played to break records and create history in the game of CRICKET.
These rules will clarify better to the all the teams VISITING AUSTRALIA.

Now it is upto you decide whether these rules are to be incorporated or not