By-Two Kaapi in an oilfield

The weblog of Abhilash Ravishankar, India.


Here I blog about my personal experiences [posting rarely]


At my tumblelog Intoxicated by possibility I blog about my opinions/likes/dislikes [posting heavily]


A car for a billion

The OLPC has never fascinated me. But somehow, this has:

It's an eco-car with a 25 km-per-litre mileage on petrol, meets every international standard and specification, including Euro-4 norms. Acceleration wise, it's the same as a Maruti 800.

At the end of the day, IMO more than the product itself (in both cases), it will be its aftermath that will be the keystone to next-gen computing/transport.

We'll guzzle oil and recycle paper and plastic!

So, says this article in The Washington Post. It also says:

We will witness the dawning of an era of exuberance regarding matters petroleum, a time of optimism comparable to the Roaring Twenties and the recently expired housing boom that was inflated by phony mortgages. Peak-oil theorists, those people foolish enough to believe that a nonrenewable resource is eventually exhaustible, will be vilified as alarmists. American consumers, mollified by falling petroleum prices and the promised availability of more exploitable oil reserves, will breathe sighs of relief.

No comments from my end.

Finding new love

Mark Cuban writes a brilliant post on how the only thing that you can control in life is the effort that you put in.

27 years old. Zero in the bank. Messed up in the head because of the breakup. The good news was that I had my business. The one thing that I could always focus on to the exclusion of everything else. A trait that would serve me well in business, but had more than a little bit to do with my breakup.

TV and Books

JP points out an article in the New Yorker. Let me quote a line or two:

It can be amusing to read a magazine whose principles you despise, but it is almost unbearable to watch such a television show. And so, in a culture of secondary orality, we may be less likely to spend time with ideas we disagree with.

This reminds me of one of those fascinating conversations I've had with a very close friend of mine. My friend has always preferred books to movies. And that was our point of discussion. Let's say, there's a brutally violent/gruesome scene to be described. Say pyschopathic murder or rape or an orgy. Would you rather read it in a book or watch it in a movie?

It is invariably true that a sensitive and observant individual would prefer reading about it than watching it on TV. A picture or a streaming media would leave a deeper impression. On the other hand, one could argue that a picture is a picture. Be it the one shown on TV or the one that your mind conjures as one reads.

I'm inclined to agree with the former. Or rather, a balance of both. Movies are good, but some are best not seen.

JP puts it best when he says:
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but an endless diet of pictures alone creates modern cavemen.

My Orkut profile cost me my job

Winds of Change brings up an exciting topic:

Had an interesting conversation with an HR professional today on the subject of employers running searches to see if a candidate has a MySpace page et. al. This is apparently something coming up in her HR training classes.

Facebook is less problematic, because you have to accept their friend invitation or they can't see your profile. LinkedIn isn't an issue because it's explicitly a professional site. So I'm taking those off the table, and focusing on 2 things:
  • Searching for and viewing a MySpace page or other public access social networking site profile
  • Using Google to track someone back to a blog, and using that in a hiring decision
Ethical? Useful? Wise from HR's point of view?

Let me make it simpler for us Indians.

Say you are a recruiting manager for an Indian firm.
  • Would you Google me out before you interview me?
  • Would my Orkut profile matter in your recruitment decision?
  • Would you just read my blog or would that influence your choice?

Facebook and LinkedIn do not feature because of the issues listed in the article. And for a moment, think on both sides of the issue. And think about yourself, your Orkut profile, your blog.

Why you should IM?

I am not an IM guy. And that has cost me.

In the four months that I spent in the Middle East, I hardly chatted with my friends/contacts on IM. The very few times I did login, I spent maybe less than an hour chatting. This time around, back in India, I met up with a lot of friends, caught up on lost time. And it suddenly struck me that I have missed out on so much. Email, the suggested alternative, has been good. It has brought me all the news from India, from my friends and contacts. But what it missed out on was all the crazy ideas, all the energy that my friends were wallowing in. I was ignored. Blatantly. Very rarely will people think of you and email you of an idea that they have thought of. Very rarely will people think of getting you involved in an idea that they would have definitely bounced off you, if you weren't chatting about trivial things with them. I've never picked up the knack of using email for trivial conversations. IM, somehow, is more apt for that use.

Ergo, IM!

Benazir's assasination

Benazir Bhutto was killed today.
Mom called me out as she saw it first on TV.
She was shell shocked. I was not.

As an Indian, you are expected to be conversant with the politics of our immediate Western neighbor. As a school/college kid, I matched those expectations. To most of us and the International media, Benazir was the face of Pakistani democracy. The face of reforms. The face of a peaceful Pakistan.

All this changed when I went to work in the Middle East. I got to work with a lot of Pakistanis, many of them coming from the best engineering colleges in Pakistan. It was during discussions with these folks on Pakistani politics that I realized that all of us are brought up with an entirely contrasting view, compared to that of the native Pakistanis.

The fact that Bhutto laundered billions out of Pakistan bears no meaning to us. It does to the people of Pakistan.
The fact that Musharraf took over Pakistan in a coup was heinous to us. It was joy to the people of Pakistan.
The fact that Musharraf, actually did quite some good regarding development is unknown to us. It's satisfaction to the people of Pakistan.
The fact that Musharraf was a military leader unnerved most of us. It wasn't new to the people of Pakistan.

At the end of the day, the people of Pakistan loved Musharraf. The key word is 'loved'. As far as what I hear from a few intellectual Pakistani folks, they no longer love him. But they don't love Bhutto either. Even today, they would prefer Musharraf over her. To them, the glorification of Bhutto in the international media, the promise of democracy doesn't matter. What matters is development. Economic. Social. (Isn't that the same everywhere in the world?!)

On a side note, our discussions had ended with a mutual agreement that Bhutto will die any day this year.
It's a pity that she was killed.
May peace be upon her soul.

Don't phunk with my stomach

Guess who had Fergie for lunch? ;)

Hey you!

- Pink Floyd. Now playing. As I head back to town after 2 weeks, catching up with nails & feeds on my mobile. It's pretty darn frustrating when you are away from civilization for weeks, and to see that the world around you is no longer the same. It didn't wait for you, mate. Floyd soothens that pain. The client's letter saying 'Good job!' erases the remnants.

Insomnia at the rig

It's 3 in the morning. A very cold one. I step out of this box that I call home nowadays, and the chill breeze knocks me out. The sand in the wind hits me like a million needles. The sea lies calm. As always.

In front of me stands a 50 metre tall mast. The rig.

It's come back for me again. Insomnia. This time, however, there's no caffeine in my blood. 4 movies on a trot, that's all. And the thought of what life holds for me in 3 years.

Hold on. Do you hear Ozzy singing? Mama, I'm coming home.

Living in a place where the law is blind

I read this in CNN today:

In March 2006, the woman, then 18 and engaged to be married, and an unrelated man were abducted from a mall in Qatif, Saudi Arabia and raped by a group of seven men.

In October, the men were convicted and sentenced to between two and nine years in prison for the assault. She was convicted of violating the kingdom's strict Islamic law by not having a male guardian with her at the mall.

"From the outset, my wife was dealt with as a guilty person who committed a crime," said her 24-year-old husband. "She was not given any chance to prove her innocence or describe how she was a victim of multiple brutal rapes."

The woman has been sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in prison. And this is her status now: 

She suffers from anemia, a blood disorder , and asthma, he said. She will have surgery next month to remove her gallbladder.

And if that wasn't enough, the judge when giving out his sentence says:

You were involved in a suspicious relationship and you deserve 200 lashes for that'

And to top it all:

The woman was originally sentenced in October 2006 to 90 lashes, but when she appealed that sentence, the court more than doubled it.

Is this remotely fair? Being in Saudi, I do know that women are generally well respected in the society. But this isn't respect. I have always maintained that rape is the worst form of brutality - worse than homicide.

Somehow, this leaves me with a very uneasy feeling.

Tumblr vs Blogger

After blabbering about aging and lack of time and laziness and blah blah blah,
The D-day arrived yesterday with this: Tumblr v3.

IMHO, Tumblr v3 was hyped up more than what it deserved. But it certainly is a significant improvement from the earlier version. I'm happy.

But the point in question was this.
So, today after spending an hour looking around Tumblr v3 and how my life has been over the past few months, working in an oilfield, it was time to decide whether I am going to ditch this blog.

There are times when you feel a stinging feeling of nostalgia. And I got stung minutes ago, with that very feeling. However, I managed to snap out of it and think of really dumping this blog. Here's the verdict.

I realized looking at my tumblelog's archive that it is merely a collection of what I think about a lot of stuff that I hear/see/read. It is merely a collection of my opinions, my likes and my dislikes. Whereas By-Two Kaapi has been a collection of stories, of experiences.

Simple isn't it? From now on,
All my experiences continue to stay on here, in By-Two Kaapi.
All my opinions/likes/dislikes/rants move over to Intoxicated by Possibility.

And yes, I promise, I swear, Wallahi, I am not going to yap more about this!

The IITian who blinked

I have an extremely hilarious email chain running in my inbox. I have to label it SPAM, however, I can't stop laughing at every single mail I get in that conversation.

It all started with this IIT-Bombay bloke blinking. The SOM School of Management folks are organizing some fest, and the folks get a little too drunk on the excitement. And this bloke mails something like this:

Dear All,
Finally all of us have a breather after midterms.
... I do not know how feasible it is but with just 9 days left for we need to really stay updated on the progress of our work and that of others in our team .....
Currently I have no idea how close we are to achieve the scale we intended to....
....I think we have been missing in publicizing for our events. in charge of the website publicity this might help.

And he sends this out to an email-list called 'temp' or so, which turned out to be, for his ill luck, a list of all the external contacts of that club in IITB (presumably)!

I just grinned at the mail, and deleted it, but the fun had just started. In less than 48 hours, 30 people have mailed in, yelling that this is SPAM, or winking that they are not the intended recipients, or mailing in completely bewildered. Here are some ummm... interesting follow-up mails:

The most common answer:
I ain't part of it. Remove my email address from the list.
The guy who fought with his wife in the morning:
I am not supposed to receive this email.
Please remove my name from the list immediately.
The guy who is fed up of chumping blokes on Facebook all day at work:
.... And also u guys may be more careful in handling databases....as far as my personal perception goes it has not caused any harm as all of us are students afterall and understand what goes in organising such an event..so good luck guys cheers! for ur event..and a bit careful with databases..

This bloke sitting in Sweden is confused:
I am not sure if you realize this but these mails are reaching much beyond the boundaries of IIT-B... and I am not sure how!!!
The most intelligent guy asks The Million-Dollar Question:
Why am I getting these mails?
And the one that got me on the floor laughing is:
I've no idea what this is about.. I'm from IITM!

Another really good one: This entrepreneur(I am sure he is a IITB alumnus), writes in -
Dear Mr.
I'm reasonably confident that I'm not one of the intended recipients

of the message below. Do check your mailing list again, and remove my
email address from the same.
Regards
But, every guy is using the 'Reply to all' feature and spamming the group, so, this entrepreneur gets fed up and mails back in a few hours:
Hi
I repeat - Could you *PLEASE* (yes, I'm shouting now) remove my name
from your list? If I get more mails from you, I shall register spam reports against
your mailing list.

Finally, one IITB bloke chimes in, with the pearl of wisdom:
Please do not reply all henceforth because there are a lot many others
like you, who don't want these mails. Just send individual mails asking
to be removed (like I did).
Happy (un)spamming
A couple more ....
The guy who exposes the scandal:
I left iitb 2 years back!!!
My favorite reply: (made by a dozen people)
Me too
Sheesh! I have myself on the floor laughing my lungs out .... when a IITB faculty replies back
Why is it being sent to faculty?
And after an hour, sends another mail:
WHY faculty?

Don't blame me if I die due to this chain.
Before I do, what would be my reply to this bloke? This:
R.I.P

Disclaimer: I have nothing against IITians, bro. I have been a student myself, I have run a student entrepreneurship cell too. And I know the likelihood of such mistakes. But I can't help it if I have a penchant for such humor.

Update:
The latest guy (the most creative one) says:
I am not in this team.. In fact i dont even study at iitb... please remove me from the list....or was it a publicity mail ;)

50 days

In a 'real' job.
In the oil industry.
In the Kingdom.

I never felt the urge to blog. Never had the time to sit down and
write. Never had time to read blogs. I could not step back and look at
what's happening in my life.

The last two days, I did precisely that. I just stopped flowing. It
was a 'Hey, wait a minute!' moment. I realized a lot of things.

Diversion:
Now, I didn't want to write all of this on By-Two Kaapi. Heck! I
haven't been writing here in months. But then, I just remembered the
early days when I started to blog, I wrote my mind. I wrote shit. And
as I saw more of the web, as I saw more of business and technology, as
I saw more of people, I began to play to the gallery. The biggest damn
mistake any man can make. Live life to please others. I became a
whore. Today, I quit. I am back to writing that same old shit. I am
back to writing about what I am doing, thinking, seeing, hearing and
feeling. I just hate the fact that I sold my soul to the devil and
started blogging to get more eyeballs to my site. Blast that damn
period. This blog is now, again, being reduced to my ramblings over a
By-Two Kaapi. The real me.

So, where on sweet Earth was I? Aah...
2 months away from home, as a freshman in the industry; that too in
the oil industry and most of all, in the Middle East; and worst of
all, in the Kingdom, here's what I have learnt...
Errr.....ummmm....
Blast! I forgot what I wanted to write, thanks to that diversion.
Heck! Who cares!
All that I wanted to say is I miss my life.

One year

Minus one day.
And life hasn't been the same.
But, as usual, things couldn't get better.

Waited for her to flow, she came up dry!

Sweat

I've seen the drops of sweat rolling.
I've heard the drops of sweat hitting the ground.
I've smelt the drops of sweat as they crawl on my face.
I've tasted the drops of sweat kissing my lips.
I've felt the drops of sweat taking the heat off me.

Now I know everything about sweat.


Powered by ScribeFire.

Aid, Investment and Angelina Jolie

Arvind Subramanian of the WSJ has authored this brilliant paper on how foreign aid is stifling innovation in poor countries and goes on to explain how investment on local innovation efforts is more appropriate than charity.

I love this line of thought. I always have.

But Arvind goes a little overboard in saying this:

When Ms. Jolie appears on the screen calling for more aid, she not only distracts our attention toward her obviously good looks, she may also be distracting our attention away from the search for more effective solutions to helping the poorest around the world.
Give that lady a break. Yes, she might be driving people to donate more, but people are not forgetting about innovation by just ogling her.

Or are ya? Quit staring and code that software for those $100 laptops!!

George Hotz

The new guru of hacking!

I'm a leftist libertarian!

According to this sweet test on Political Compass.

Keep oil out of the hands of terrorists?

Arnold Kling writes here:

Suppose that we used military force to take over oil, keeping it in the hands of private companies and taking it out of the hands of governments. This would not only serve my wife's purpose of keeping oil money away from terrorists. As I read Collier, such a policy would improve the governance and economic development of the countries afflicted with the "resource curse." We would be doing the people (as opposed to the governments) a favor.
I have a very mixed feeling to this line of argument. For one, I hate the very thought of a rogue state sitting on tonnes of oil, the corrupt politicians/militia playing around with hookers all day while the people of that country rot in abject poverty. At the same time, a military intervention? By whom? You expect me to trust Uncle Sam? Are you on medication, son?

These days oil companies are bigger than nations in terms of revenue. The biggest oil giants outrank every country in the world except 25-30 countries. (Check 1 and 2). And I wouldn't trust the oil which my kids would need, entirely on them either. Oil and state are too intertwined to let anything good happen.

What do we do? Beats me!

I prefer cheese sandwiches. Thank you!











I once remember Jay said:

How can you eat something that shits?
I think that aptly explains why I'm a veggie.

Content-Aware Image Sizing

Wow! Simply, wow!
If you've ever been into any sort of Image Processing/Resizing/Compression, or heck, if you've ever played around with images, you ought to see this!

Signs of aging

I'm 21 and I think I'm aging? Hell, yeah!

Life's different from the last four years that I spent in college. Pretty obvious, isn't it? A lot of things change. You can start listing all the clich├ęs - Responsibility, Work, Focus etc etc. But the buck doesn't stop there. The change is a little deeper than what it seems.

Right now, I'm sitting in a posh hotel room in an island in the Arabian Gulf; a couple of thousand miles away from a place I call 'Home'; suffocated by the opulence around me; and I'm reading about what I blogged exactly two years ago. And I start focusing on the change that is creeping in.

It's amusing and well documented as to how you always feel that your posts a year ago were so immature. But, for a change, I felt there was a sense of innocent beauty and zeal in my posts a couple of years ago. I realized, I loved to debate on issues till I dropped dead. I loved to live in my own esoteric/poetic world. I loved to talk about life, about music that touches the soul, about love, about pain, about lack of achievement. The wheels rolled. Today, all that sounds romantic. But I have materialistic thoughts in my mind. I'd rather talk about people, about money, about petty politics. The fire no longer burns. All that exist are lame blames, isolated cries and a general apathy.

As a corollary, I seem to have a relatively shorter attention span. Signs of aging! I'm shocked to see myself having written blog posts that span more than a couple of thousand words. Sorry, brother. Doesn't work anymore. I pushed myself a couple of weeks to pen this post, and I'm pretty darn sure I can't keep this running.

So, what's in it for me? Well, this blog will see fewer, shorter posts. I probably saw this coming when I was introduced to Tumblr and Twitter. The hard fact is that I almost shut down this blog today. Just before doing so, I flipped through my archives, and felt a stinging guilt of not being that flamboyant, happy-go-lucky blogger. And with that faint hope that someday I might return to writing, I leave this blog alive.

For the record, my interest will now be focused on Intoxicated by Possibility, a tumblelog, a stream of consciousness, an online trail - call it what you want. And this blog shall stay, for those peaceful days when I am sipping coffee and feel the kid in me, yearning to write.

63rd cup! To death!

This tells me:

Gulp down 62.26 cups of Drip Coffee and you're history.



"This is how I am going to die."

When I was a kid, ... Little did I know

When I was a kid, I was taught to say no to corruption. Little did I know that I would have to bribe the RTO officer and not say a thing.

When I was a kid, I was told that all men are treated equally in India. Little did I know that my uncle being a prominent lawyer can speeden my passport application 7x times.

When I was a kid, I was told that foreigners are always exploited. Little did I know that an Indian who's about to go abroad too has to shell out 10x the fees at any government office.

When I was a kid, I was told that usually most bureaucrats are corrupt. Little did I know that a non-corrupt bureaucrat would be a spineless, hated-by-all man.

When I was a kid, I was told that all religions are equal though some are more equal. Little did I know that my opthalmologist, a learned famed doctor would warn me about the so-called perils of entering a Muslim state.

When I was a kid, I thought the world was bad. Little did I know, that it sucks so bad!

No BCB4 reviews here

Sorry, I am not going to post any reviews, post-event comments, suggestions etc etc about Barcamp Bangalore 4. Why? Coz I think loads of other people have done it. Just goog for 'bcb4' mate!

But yes, I'll say one thing - this Barcamp for me was all music! Here are videos of the band!

On the boulevard of memories

It's been a very long time since I blogged about something esoteric, something that shouldn't be reduced to just words, something that haunts your mind like a zahir, something that you consider a guarded treasure.

Tonight, I feel like it.

As my thoughts trace back a year, I'm reminded of the misery, of the agony that haunted me. The tears that'd almost dried on my cheeks. The thoughts of giving up the fight had almost gotten the best of me. And to paraphrase GnR - That reminds me of a special time. And if I dwell too long, I'd probably break down and cry.

Today, the misery exists. The agony exists. The tears exist too. But all in a different light, and they're all fine. Coz I won that fight. And I earned the joy of sweet success. And with it, also came bliss, and completeness. Most precious of all, the best of times on the boulevard of memories.

BCB4: Day 2 Ahoy!

Wow! As I sat in the audi listening to the speakers and the talks lined up for today, my smile just reappeared! :)
This day seems to be packed with some cool explosive content.
Follow it live on twitter.com/bcb4

The Startups collective seems to be the hot and happening place, with a few good ones lined up in mobile & internet.

BCB4: End of Day 1

End of day 1 at Barcamp Bangalore 4.
Personally, I found it to be dull and stale. Primarily because most of the talks were a repeat of what happened at BCB3. So, yawned and roamed around the whole place.
Very few disruptive ideas being talked about!

As usual, day 2 in an unconference is always better. So, looking forward to day2.

BCB4: Walking down the corridors of IIM-B

Off to the canteen

BCB4: Bah! MMS's failing from my cell

So, I shall resume text-only posts here from the web.

www.wwigo.com are demoing their application. zook.in just did theirs. Am at the mobile room, but everything's stale here for me. So, am moving to a different room.

BCB4: Adobe all the way

First talk of the day for me. Prayank, an Adobe evangelist is talking about Adobe's new foray into Rich Internet Applictions with Flex and the likes.

See the gapingvoid cartoon on the screen!? ;)

Registration at BCB4

Getting registered. Was half an hour late :( But the event was an hour behind schedule ;)

We don't even look at girls!

We didn’t say anything to the girl, we don’t even look at girls, how can we eve-tease them.

This is what, two bloody hooligans say after driving a 10-year old girl to complicated surgeries, a possible third surgery, fracturing her vertebrae and leaving her fighting for life.

Yeah, and as you guessed it right, it's India, and these hooligans are scot-free. Out on bail. #$%#!!!!

"Coal is the best energy source we have...

... and Carbon dioxide emissions are good for the planet."

This is what the Greening Earth Society has to say!
Jeez! Give me a break fellas!The art of spin, you see. And guess who they are funded by. Yup, The Western Fuels Association!

Came across this page talking about 6 such prominent 'Research centers' funded by coal and oil, which speak ratcrap.Here's the clincher from the same page:

Increased levels of CO2 will help plants, and that's good.
Peace out!

Barcamp Bangalore 4

Whoah! I saw the Bangalore Barcamp 4 wiki and it left me flummoxed! A shocking number of participants. They say, it might well be one of the world's largest barcamps. Sheesh!

Anyway, I had a swell time in BCB3, and I swear to God, I won't miss BCB4. This time, the folks out there have bitten the bug of social networks, and they have started this concept of mini-social network gatherings at BCB4, which they cheesily call 'collectives'.

Catch me at BCB4 in the 'startups' collective. I will be part-timing also in these collectives: 'mobile' (my new crush), 'internet' (duh!) and 'bloggers' (live-blogging of course).

And yes, By-Two Kaapi shall have live pics and posts from the event. And as usual, I shall live-twitter the event. So, be there or be square

Virgin style

A Rolls Royce car outside a restaurant here, as shot by my dad. It's got "The Mobile Store" logo all over it. Given that it is owned by the Virgin group, it's not a surprise that this car reminds me of Branson somehow!

Gotcha

I was having a dosa in a restaurant adjacent to the zoo here, when this giraffe was loitering around. Tried to take a quick shot, which I barely managed to.

This is a test post from my mobile.

Ingineurs and conmen

Magic and magicians have always managed to catch my attention since my
childhood days. There was a time when I used to flaunt a magic kit in
front of my cousins and try to pull off an act or two. Long gone.
But, there always persisted this curiosity behind illusions. Pretty
normal, I concede. This movie I watched last week "The Prestige" was a
beautifully made movie on illusions, the men behind them- ingineurs,
and magicians. It's amazing how illusions are conceptualized, how they
are crafted and how the human mind refuses to see through most of
them.
It's said 'The only thing a magician cares about is the secret behind
his act'. And right now, I'm watching those secrets being revealed on
TV. Pretty entertaining, I should say.

At the end of the day, it's amazing to be a man who conned a
theater-full of people, isn't it?


--
Abhilash Ravishankar

www.abhilash.name
+91-99160-17871

Test post from mobile

Is there a neat blogger app for Symbian phones?

--
Abhilash Ravishankar

www.abhilash.name
+91-99160-17871

Life without internet

Peaceful. Frustrating.

Should I kill this blog?

I am done with my engineering from BITS Pilani.
I have made a sweet job at Schlumberger and will be heading there in a month.
I am busy with trying to build a web service at www.yofa.in.
I am lazing around at home most of the time.
I am a little busy, though, shuttling between Bangalore and Mysore.
I still love coffee.

Now, it's been almost a month since I posted something good on this blog. I do not feel like opening the 'Create Post' button in Blogger and stare at a big empty white box. Why?

I am busy twittering.
I am busy reading feeds and sharing them.
I am busy clicking around in my Nokia E50 and uploading them.
All in all, I am thinking about www.abhilash.name all the time. That is the trail of my online activities, and carries everything from my blog posts, my twits, my photos, my bookmarks, my shared reads...

And all of that is powered by a tiny service called Tumblr. [Not that it is great, but it is really handy]

The question is:
Should I kill this blog of mine and concentrate on my online trail?

PS. I think most of it will depend on how hectic my job would be.

Oil down the barrell of the gun

The U.S. Department of Defense is the world’s leading consumer of petroleum, sucking up about 340,000 barrels of oil every day, more than the total national consumption of Sweden or Switzerland.
Read on ...

Twitter for love

I remember Ghom and me coming up with this idea of a Twitter for lovers.

You know, you have a sweetheart who you can't text(SMS) as its too costly and ....

  • You are standing in a queue at the subway for a ticket, and you twitter a sweet nothing.
  • You are doing potty, and you're bored, and you twitter another sweet nothing.
  • You are going up the elevator, and you twitter how much you miss him/her.
Today Scoble says it too!
“LOVER” tag might go into one page with a password, for instance, that isn’t publicly available. That way Maryam and I could use a social network to send sweet nothings back and forth (I can’t use any of these networks for THAT kind of social networking).
Actually, won't IM solve the problem? Not exactly, as its so much more fun if you have a recorded history of all the sweet nothings that you have exchanged.

Do I hear a 'Hmm...' from any developers there?

I know what you read over breakfast today!

Mat Balez writes in this post:

In the modern continuous online newscycle, I wonder who influences the influencers?

For instance, which feeds does Matt Cutts read the most? From which sources does Fred Wilson draw his inspiration? Which blogs is Michael Arrington tracking obsessively? This would all be useful information for me. It would help direct me toward those sources that someone I respect trusts.

Exactly! In the early days of my getting hooked on to the web, and to RSS, in particular, I used to upload my Bloglines OPML on my blog every month. Mat here calls for an effort towards massive collaboration project where dynamically updated OPML files are shared over a social network. In his own words:
Why can’t I subscribe to an RSS feed of YOUR OPML file - so that I could be notified when you’ve subscribed to new blogs.
Isn't that kewl?! Again, privacy restrictions should apply.
He talks about the OPML Share Project. Pretty neat. Am currently giving it a spin.

Someday, hopefully, yeah

Reservations: A 'Hello World' Letter

In his memorandum to (Arjun) Singh, (Former Congress MP) Anbarasu has demanded that the present director (of IIT Madras) be replaced with someone from the OBC/SC/ST community as the institute has had only Brahmins as directors so far.
This article in Tehelka deserves to be called 'Puke of the Day' (Nilu ishtyle).

Hello World!
  • Please laugh at us.
  • Please make fun of how we hate our Asoks for they graduated out of IIT when there existed no reservation.
  • Please roll over and laugh if you haven't heard of Members of Parliament saying that they need a SC/ST director as the university has had too many Brahmin directors.
  • Please don't be surprised when you hear the next time that Harvard will take 33% Christians, 20% Muslims, 14% Hindus, 6% Buddhists, 15% Atheists, and the rest are for other religions. Because you know where it all started. Here. India.
  • Please consider it commonplace if a professor who is changing the telecom landscape in rural India gets kicked out of an IIT, because he had to make way for a SC/ST professor (who might also be as good as him)
  • Please remember us Indians as the ones who fulfilled Ayn Rand's prophecy of the Moratorium on Brains.
  • Please cry for us.

Yahoo! BeYond - Cheap publicity stunt

First I get a mail from Amitansu about Yahoo! BeYond, a session (June 1, 2007) supposed to be a refreshing mix of business and play, and with a tagline which went:

All that you wanted to learn at B-School. But didn't know whom to ask.
It boasted of 2 high-profile speakers:
  • Pranesh Anthapur, COO, Yahoo! India R&D [Keynote]
  • Phil Quigley, Head, Learning & Development, Yahoo! Bangalore [Business Games Session]
On the topic: An Organization in the 21st Century: How do we succeed?
Best of all, it was in the Leela Palace, Bangalore.

Seemed perfect. (Except for the topic)

Then, I call up to RSVP for the event. The person on the phone tells me that she's busy and asks me to call me up after sometime. Holy Cow! Never mind. I call up after sometime and I tell her that I am a web entrepreneur, and an engineer from BITS Pilani. She tells me that I need to have a Management Background to be eligible for this event. What? I tell her that I am an entrepreneur and if that's not enough ... blah blah. She agrees, and asks me to send a mail. I do that, only to find a reply from her the next morning that I have to call her up again. She's panting over the phone and tells me to call her after sometime. Sheesh! OK. After an hour, she confirms me for the event, and apologizes saying that she's just an intern at Yahoo! and she's extremely taxed.

I had a good laugh. Dragged Chinmay along, and went to the session in the evening.

Good news. Bad news.
Pranesh starts off saying that he has both good news and bad news. He has a 47-slides presentation. Period. Wow! Ever heard anyone say 47 slides are good?

The Torture:
47 slides rolled. I so wished he had fought the bull. He started talking about what organizations needed to succeed in the 21st century. Flexibility, Speed etc etc. More jargon. More bullfighting needed. Then he tells us important qualities in leaders - Teamwork, ethics etc etc. How enlightening! These days kids are taught to be team players when in kindergarten! A couple of sentences with a good dash of humor, and a couple of them with good insight. But, 90 minutes of torture! Thanks to my lovely cell-phone ringing, I went outside for a 15 minute breather.

The Game:
Phil comes in. Amazing energy for a man of his age. Cool sense of humor. He is an instant hit with the almost sleeping crowd. But wait! He starts off on a 30-minute presentation on what to do and what not to do in an interview. Hello! The whole crowd consists of B-School students and a couple of engineers like me. Did we come on a weekday taking two hours off to learn how to handle ourself in an interview? I mean, we've been through all this when we didn't have moustaches! And the best part, there was NO business game as claimed in the brochure!

Q&A:
Pranesh was good. Except for statements like 'The vectors are converging'. Cut it, mate! The MBA students pose stupid questions like 'How does a new brand take on an entrenched brand?' What did they teach you in B-School, mate?

Conclusion:

Pranesh calls on Yahoo! Interns to come on stage(including that female who I had RSVPed to). They are asked to say one good thing about Yahoo! People are asked to give them a big hand. Huh! What next? A standing ovation?

Aftermath:
  • Great snacks served at the Leela. High point of the evening.
  • I catch three groups of MBA students drooling over the apparently great time they had in the session. Ticked me of to wonder how could have any Management student withstood the same old drivel? Haven't people been taught this. I'm an engineer and I found the session pointless. Absolutely no value-addition!
  • Pick up a conversation with a couple of MBA students, and realized that I am better off at BarCamp. I leave.

Connecting the dots:
Intern organizes event. They talk age-old management jargon found in textbooks. They teach us how to prepare for an interview. They ask us to clap for the Yahoo! Interns.
Message at EOD: Join Yahoo! We are cool. At least intern at Yahoo!

For the folks at Yahoo!: There are better ways to publicize Yahoo! Food at the Leela is not enough.
For all other engineers like me: Be happy. Seriously! (I never was until that day)
Note to self: Never go to such events again. Even if they offer a grand luncheon in the Leela.

Online on the go: My mobile web apps

I got hooked on to GPRS a couple of days back. (The Inside story: Hutch sends me an offer waiving their 50 bucks GPRS activation charge and the recurring 50 bucks a month rental, and activated GPRS for me. Maybe because I was a high-volume customer! The catch was that I would have to pay a rupee per 100kb of data transfer. Seemed decent to me, and I fell for it. PlanetHutch sucks though!)

And man, am I loving it! All those boring bus journeys are becoming so much more interesting! Here are the web apps that I am hooked on to these days on my mobile:

  • Gmail: As usual it rocks on the web too!
  • Twitter: The full power of Twitter is when you can twitter on the go. Kickass!
  • GoogReader: Reading feeds on a long long journey. Peace!
  • Facebook: This is why Facebook sells(will sell) more than Orkut. Imagine voyuering around on profiles when you're bored!
  • Zook: An upcoming local search engine. Pretty neat! Caught a preview in Barcamp Bangalore 3.
  • GCal: Though, 30boxes comes a close second, I prefer Gcal because of its SMS alerts.
  • Rememberthemilk: Lovely to-do list functionality: Don't use it much, but still, love it!
Tsk...Tsk...Do you use a kickass mobile app? Tell me.

Wow! One in every 11 people logging on to the web across the world through mobiles turning out to be an Indian (9% of the world mobile web users!), reports Rediff.
And for the record, I browse on a lowly Nokia 3100. Damn.

Update 1: GCal and 30boxes, both don't allow me to edit an event's time on my mobile. Atleast 30boxes allows me to delete an event and add a new event in place of it.

Update 2: Made a mobile-friendly homepage for myself.

India, Carbon emissions and a joke

First we have this [source]

The rapidly expanding economies of China and India are showing a swift increase in CO2 emissions. China, which is already the second largest polluter, has increased its emissions by 33 percent between 1992 and 2002, while India’s emissions have grown 57 percent in the same period.
and then this happens:
Once our per capita emission levels reach the same as those of the industrialized countries, we'll be very happy to do our share too.
-Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon. [Source]

Kalmane Kaapi shack

No more Cafe Coffee Day.
No more Barista.

I've always wanted the pure strong freshly brewed South Indian filter coffee with a cafe experience. And I've found it at Kalmane Koffee.

Thanks to a tip off from Manju about a couple of months back, I hit this place, first, in Garuda mall. I was floored with the cardamom flavored filter coffee that I drank. The pic here is that of the Kalmane Koffee lounge in The Forum. And that's a huge roasting machine that greets you at the entrance of the sleek lounge. Have heard that Jayanagar has a far more excellent lounge coupled with a bookstore.

So, the next time, you actually want to drink good, real good coffee, head over to Kalmane. Prices start from Rs.20 (Can you believe that? And the twenty bucks coffee is kickass!). And after you've sinned by drinking unadulterated strong filter coffee, do come back and leave a comment here.

[Photo from 'The Hindu': Murali Kumar K ]

I'll do it later

John Perry, a professor of Philosophy at Stanford, in his 1995 paper titled "Structured Procrastination", says:

The key idea is that procrastinating does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing. They do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganise their files when they get around to it. Why does the procrastinator do these things? Because they are a way of not doing something more important.
I love this guy! He gives a brilliant example of structured procrastination:
... when my wife and I served as Resident Fellows in Soto House, a Stanford dormitory. In the evening, faced with papers to grade, lectures to prepare, committee work to be done, I would leave our cottage next to the dorm and go over to the lounge and play ping-pong with the residents, or talk over things with them in their rooms, or just sit there and read the paper. I got a reputation for being a terrific Resident Fellow, and one of the rare profs on campus who spent time with undergraduates and got to know them. What a set up: play ping pong as a way of not doing more important things, and get a reputation as Mr. Chips.
Can I agree more with him! I have taken secret pride in being a procrastinator-par-excellence. Thanks to which I almost ended up flunking my engineering exams. But also thanks to unknowingly structuring my procrastination, I am what I am now, thinking of startups and the likes.

But sometimes when the structure in 'Structured Procrastination' loosens up, shit hits the fan.

Update: Have been reading feeds and blogging all morning. Boss comes in and reminds me that I had to present my work(which is yet to be started) in the morning.

Is the Internet gloryfing collectivism?

Varun invited me to blog at Similitude - a new team blog where "people blog for the pure selfish joy of writing". Reminded me of those golden times when I read Atlas Shrugged. Here's a mirror of the first post that I made at the blog.



As I pen this first post for Similitude, my media player has Floyd playing some of their best music. One of their songs, coupled with one of Salvador Dali's drawings (above) titled 'Ants and wheat ear' inspired this post's title.

As I just sipped some coffee a few minutes back, it struck me:

  • I hadn't updated my whereabouts on Twitter
  • I had to take a look at the snaps that my brother uploaded on Flickr in the morning
  • I hadn't posted on my Tumblr blog today
  • My del.icio.us account needed pruning by adding bundles
  • I had to put a clip of my Google Reader's shared items somewhere
Somewhere in the sands of time, we have fallen prey to ubiquitous bandwidth and internet. You can bump into me in the evening and ask me how you too agree that 'Picture Perfect' was a piece of crap after having read my Twitter status last night. And to top it all, maybe we hadn't met for a couple of years now - and here you are, talking about the movie I watched last night, just because you've been silently observing what I've been doing for these last two years.

And beat this. All of us are doing so. We are just like those ants over the wheat ear. All we want is a piece of that wheat. Blindly we go about pulling that wheat ear in whichever direction we want. (You do know that when ants are moving something big, not all ants are pulling/pushing it in the same direction, don't you?). At the end of the day, the wheat ear does move. Not where we wanted it to, but how the collective spirit of mankind wanted it to.

(Now I understand why TIME said the Person of the Year 2006 was 'You')

The question is:
Is technology/internet illustrating that collectivism is far more glorious than the spirit of individualism?

Kaapi-haters: Burn!

Every other time I go to get myself a cup of coffee, I find somebody telling me that it ain't good for my health.

One, I was tired of making them realize that they are just plain jealous. And two, I needed some lip-smacking 'peer-reviewed scientific articles' to prove them wrong. And voila! Here they are: 7 awesome reasons why a kaapi-hater should burn in hell.

While I was at it, I bumped into this page listing caffeine content of various drinks. Here are the ones that I usually drink:
Espresso: 51.33 mg/oz
Drip/Filter coffee (My absolut fav!): 18.13 mg/oz
Instant coffee: 7.13 mg/oz
[The first two are way above the average caffeine content in normal drinks]

And wait a minute, check this out : Powershot: 100 mg/oz!!!!!
Isn't that a little too much?

Bonus: This study might have been done on rats, but still ... aren't we rodent-esque?

What do people at Schlumberger smoke?

Nothing! Lest they blow up the oil.

Chinmay picked something out of my last post on Sinclair's principle, Global Warming and the likes, and thanks to his tests and recent doodling, seems to have overlooked quite a few things. Quite frankly, I had overlooked most of it when I made the post. But digging a little deeper, I had to debunk most of what Chinmay writes about here.

First off, to set things in the right place,
Schlumberger does NOT deny global warming in any page on their site (AFAIK).

In fact, the misquoted paragraph -

OK. But what’s the problem? Will a little extra warm weather hurt anyone? In fact, for people living in cold climates a global warming might be a good thing. In some parts of the world the growing season could become longer and agricultural land more productive.
in this page, is more of a Devil's advocate POV, a method of teaching. It's more like a teacher who's educating her students about pollution telling them - "So what if we throw plastics in the dumpyard? Somebody will pick it up, or it will get buried!", and then going on to explain "But, plastics are non-recyclable and ....."

Chinmay also makes a point about this being on their education page. What he misses out, is this page on Global Climate Change and Energy which starts off with:
We invite you to actively investigate for yourself the facts, concepts, and theories. Take the time to explore the graphs, simulations and animations, in order to better understand what global warming is all about and what can be done.

We hope you can join us in this important mission of learning, understanding and acting!
The page also accepts the role of humans and industries and yes, fossil fuels too!
Since the Industrial Revolution people have been affecting the carbon cycle.
Human intervention has increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to its highest level in hundreds of thousands of years. Look closely at the right-hand edge of the graph below.
They do accept that global warming is bad!
Global warming will have a major impact on the way we live. Sea levels will rise causing flooding of densely populated coastal areas. The intensity of tropical storms will increase. Many agricultural areas that are already suffering from drought will become drier.
To top it all, they exhort students to act!
  1. Reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by using energy more efficiently
  2. Use alternative energy sources that do not produce carbon dioxide emissions - solar, wind, nuclear, geothermal and hydroelectric.
  3. When we do burn fossil fuels capture and store the resulting carbon dioxide rather than letting it go into the atmosphere.
The last link is true oil-industry style - walking the thin line between telling people not to start hating oil but coaxing them towards a harmony of non-renewable energy and fossil fuels.

At the end of the day, I just hope Uncle Sam ratifies the Kyoto protocol and we head towards living in a safer planet.

Sinclair's principle and times ahead

It struck me last night, after I rewatched 'An Inconvenient Truth', that I might be headed towards some interesting times in a few months.

Al Gore says that according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), this era of global warming "is unlikely to be entirely natural in origin" and "the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence of the global climate." He also goes on to say how the mainstream media has been influenced by a huge lobby which is investing millions of dollars into spreading the picture that Global warming is 'normal' and there is nothing much to worry about.

This reminded me of the movie 'Thank you for Smoking', where a spokesperson(Nick Naylor) for a conglomerate of tobacco companies spins his way in life.



Today, I happen to see this on a post on the SEED (Schlumberger Excellence in Educational Development) site:

Over the past 425,000 years the earth has gone through four ice ages punctuated by brief warm periods. We are currently in such a warm period. The trend over the past century has been one of generally rising global temperature. The consensus among climatologists is that there will be a continued increase during the rest of this century. OK. But what’s the problem? Will a little extra warm weather hurt anyone? In fact, for people living in cold climates a global warming might be a good thing. In some parts of the world the growing season could become longer and agricultural land more productive.
And that so, sounded like what Nick Naylor would have said!

I have a Stop Global Warming badge on my site, and I am joining Schlumberger (the world's largest oilfield services company) in July this year. Somehow, all this reminded me of what Upton Sinclair once said:
It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.
Looks like I might talk more about Oil over By-Two Kaapi!

Update: Schlumberger is funding $25m of the Global Climate & Energy Project at Stanford. (Read on...)

www.abhilash.name

It was long time due. My own domain.
Today it officially goes live here at www.abhilash.name.
And By-Two Kaapi sees a small change, moving over to blog.abhilash.name.

The last paradox

Chief, I think I now realize what the last paradox is.

What is the one thing we hate to give up, the one thing that we hate to lose? Elementary. It is that thing that we love the most. Maybe a dear one, maybe an idea, maybe a dream. And what if our love for that dream/idea/person turns into quicksand? The more you love it, the more you lose it. That's the last paradox. At the end of it, whatever it is, you lose. The End.

In this moment of enlightenment, my media player has Eddie Vedder saying:

I take a walk outside
I'm surrounded by some kids at play
I can feel their laughter, so why do I sear?
Oh, and twisted thoughts that spin round my head
I'm spinning, oh, I'm spinning
How quick the sun can drop away
Isn't it beautiful?

I define my conduct

I was put off by the over-reaction to Kathy Sierra's so-called death-threats etc.
I had chosen not to respond to Mr. O'Reilly's Code of Conduct.

But today, I see Himanshu blogging about bad ethics in the blogosphere. And that ticked me off to write this post.

The noise in a signal defines it. Sounds paradoxical, but it is noise/chaos that is the defining element of a signal. My favorite is impulsive noise. Human life, as a signal, will show you that the impulsive noise is characterized by events which stand tall in man's chronology. These events are a result of great genius or a result of utter insanity.

The internet was an example of the former, and the Blogger's Code of Conduct is a very tiny example of the latter.

The internet exemplified freedom. The Code of Conduct calls upon a section of bloggers to goad the rest into curbing their own freedom. Let's take an example. Point 5 of that code says

We do not allow anonymous comments.

Who is anybody to decide whether I allow anonymous comments on my blog? Drop dead hilarious. I wanted to rip every single point n that code. But, that has already been done by many, and I am not in the mood for humor.

It's even more hilarious to see bloggers in huge number towing his line. But, my allegiance to the dream of freedom on the internet was undeterred thanks to hundreds of thousands of bloggers scoffing at this code.

The music is dying!

Christ! What a tragedy!
I loved Pandora, so much that I used to open it before I opened my email client.
Well, that's bound to change now.

I got this email from Tim, Pandora's founder:

Dear Pandora listener,

Today we have some extremely disappointing news to share with you. Due to international licensing constraints, we are deeply, deeply sorry to say that we must begin proactively preventing access to Pandora's streaming service for most countries outside of the U.S.
[...]
We show your IP address is 'xxx.xxx.xx.xx', which indicates you are listening from India. If you believe you are seeing this by mistake, we offer our sincere apologies and ask that you please reply to this email.
[...]
Consequently, on May 3rd, we will begin blocking access to Pandora to listeners from your country. We are very sad to have to do this, but there is no other alternative.
[...]
We deeply share your sense of disappointment and greatly appreciate your understanding.

-Tim Westergren
(Pandora founder)
Good-bye Pandora. See ye in another life.

When the music died ...

SaveNetRadio.org


A recent decision by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) that increases the royalties owed by Internet webcasters pay to play music by between 300 and 1200% has jeopardized the future of Internet Radio.
Maybe in America, but am sure it will have far reaching consequences if the bill goes through. Imagine paying to listen to Pandora! Yikes!

All ye' American Congressmen brothers of mine - are ye' all listening?

Pulitzer winning photography

Get through this without crying, or feeling the urge to cry, and you are a cold beast.

Cyndie rocks her dying son as the song, "Because We Believe," plays on a cd. She sings along with Andrea Bocelli in a whispery voice. “Once in every life/There comes a time/We walk out all alone/And into the light…”

From left, family friends Ashley Berger, Amy Morgan and Kelly Whysong offer comfort as Cyndie tells Derek, "It's OK, baby. I love you, little man. I love you, brave boy. I love you. I love you.“

Derek died soon after in his mother’s arms on May 10, 2006.

Of prayers online

Half a decade back, when I came across websites where you could

  • Click a button to perform aarthi to Lord Ganesh
  • Light (online) incense sticks to appease the Gods
  • Click a button and hear crackers bursting on Diwali
it had caught me laughing my lungs out. I never could comprehend why people would (even in the most doped minds) do that.

Yesterday, yet again, I saw prayers being offered online. Though this time, it wasn't for the Gods. It was for the soul of this young lady who was the victim of that brutal massacre at VirginiaTech. Half a decade, probably, has made me much more mature, and I didn't laugh my lungs out this time.

However, I am unable to answer some of my own questions:
What does someone get by saying 'Rest in Peace' in her scrapbook?
What do people get by forming communities called Minal: God bless her?
Is this the final nail on the wall stating that the internet is now fully personal?

I do feel utmost grief at the tragedy, but I never would drive myself to scrap in a dead person's scrapbook. Hundreds of people have blogged about their grief, which is perfectly fine, but scraps in a scrapbook? Excuse me if I sound cold, but the point that I am trying to make is - Is it not just an example of a herd-which-knows-not-where-it's-headed?

And yes,
Dhiyo yo nah prachodayat (Enlighten our minds!), so that such barbaric incidents do not repeat. May her soul and the souls of all the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

Remember that stunning woman on that mag's cover?

It's commonplace to talk about how women appear in popular media, and rant about society's skewed view, about feminism, about sex. True. There's too much sex in TV, movies, internet and PC games.

I stumbled upon a brilliant web essay which talks about the male gaze, fashion ads and the pose. An excerpt from the introduction

... these claims seem to imply that there is an obvious "thing" called beauty or sexual attractiveness, and that the question is simply whether or not the media should display so much of this "thing."

The following web essay casts doubt on the belief that there is such a simple, self-evident "thing" as beauty. It looks at beauty as a cultural construct, at how beauty is defined, at how fashion magazines cultivate a very particular notion of what it means to be attractive or beautiful. And it suggests that this particular notion may be less about sex, less about actual human sexual behaviors, than it is about power.
An amazing essay which makes you realize stuff that you never would have on your own.

What made me think was a quote by John Berger which went so,
Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at.
Really wonder whether the second is true. (No comments about the first one!) Feminists will bring the house down on this one. However, the point of discussion is whether women get a kick out of being watched and admired?

Intoxicated by possibility

Was Skyping with Chinmay from Pilani, and as we were in a conversation regarding a few organizational blues, I said -

You know what? They are not intoxicated by possibility!
This phrase (inspired from one of Hugh's cartoons) has been hovering around in my mind for quite a long time now.

Dreamers see possibilities where you and me can't. And that has always been a quality that I admire in people I meet. The ability to envision the potential of an idea - ah! the hallmark of genius. And what happens when that genius gets intoxicated by that very possibility? There are born great products. Disruptive services.

At the end of the day, wouldn't you be rather be intoxicated by possibility?

Re-invention

I talked about it here and here. And right now, I am preparing to do something new and satisfying over the next few months. More about this reserved for a later post. Ah! How Change/Chaos gives me a 'high'.

I am currently reading Arun Shourie's book: Falling Over Backwards: An essay against reservations and judicial populism. It's shocking, painfully amusing and is currently churning my guts with disgust at Indian lawmakers and part of the judiciary. Will post a detailed review later.

There's that gaping void!

Hugh McLeod, undoubtedly is great. Now that he is on the Redmond Giant's payroll, things will surely be a lot more interesting.

Here are a few of his cartoons that I simply adore!

That's me:


And this is me too!

Of Prime Ministers and Presidents

First, our extremely learned Prime Minister yaks in public against the judiciary:

I feel that judicial activism must be used in a restrained manner to fill up any institutional vacuum or failure and to clarify legal positions, retaining its character as a powerful but sparingly used instrument for correction
The next day, the Indian media goes gaga over our President's comment that Narayana Murthy (of Infosys fame) will be a fantastic President, and runs full day programs on TV channels going around asking people all across the nation whether Murthy is a right candidate for President.

I see two things in this mess:
  • Indians (or most of them in the media atleast) are obsessed with extremely educated and learned people in top posts (PM/President), when there is absolutely no empirical evidence to show that they perform better. (What has Kalam/Singh done any better than any other President/PM?)
  • These apolitical figures are mere puppets in the hands of the political godfathers and mothers. See Dr. Singh above making that retrograde statement.
For the record, I don't think Murthy (whom I admire beyond description from the bottom of my heart) would do any more good as President. God Bless India.

The smell of connectivity

Never thought I would miss the net and phone so much.

This is how life has been over the weekend:
2 days in Kerala's highest resort.
Networks available: only BSNL Mobile. (Dad grins)
Munnar with a million Hutch banners. (No Hutch at the resort)
My forced exile from the net.
Kerala seems far from a virgin. (More like a prostitute)
Sickness. Fever. Cough. Blah Blah.

Today I am back in Bangalore. The smell of connectivity hits me right in the head. The computer screen with my mail client welcomes me. The letters 'Hutch' on my cell and that voice over the phone bring me back to life.

Maybe Mom was right, I am just too addicted to this insanely materialistic (read connected) world.

Sabbatical

One word that gets me pumped up!
Yes, I'm taking one to God's Own Country this weekend.
Much needed!
[3 days without internet - Wow!]

It's been a sick week if not for BarCampBangalore3. Nothing's been able to pump up my spirits. Let's see whether this Yahoo! talk will be any good.

I feel like calling myself an 'intellectual whore' (though not in the exact sense used here).
Coming to think of it, aren't we all whores? Aren't we used by scores of people for doing whatever they want us to do. (At the same time, conning us to believe that it is a task we are doing for ourselves). And we get paid by a beautiful 'Thank You!' coupled with a smile that we would die a thousand times over to see.

I need a sabbatical. I know it.
I'm thinking of doing something radically different after I come back from the sabbatical. Maybe learn a new language. Maybe join art classes. Maybe start podcasting. Maybe code.

I need a break. Adieus amigo!

When the weather was beautiful...

When the weather was beautiful I thought it was a waste of time to sit in front of the computer.
So said Theo Jansen.
And look what he has come up with ...



Since about ten years Theo Jansen is occupied with the making of a new nature. Not pollen or seeds but plastic yellow tubes are used as the basic matierial of this new nature. He makes skeletons which are able to walk on the wind. Eventualy he wants to put these animals out in herds on the beaches, so they will live their own lives.

The largest animal to walk the earth after the dinosaur.
More Videos of Jansen's animals.
Brilliant Interview!

I love it when he says in a BMW ad:
The walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds.
My definition of an artist-designer-madscientist! Pure Genius!



The One-man Majority!

CNN-IBN says in this report:

In October 2006, while various deemed universities in India said that they would wait, watch and ultimately toed the government line, BITS Pilani's bold stand that it would not implement quotas and reservations in admissions shook the conscience of the nation. For BITS Pilani, courage has always been what it takes to stand up and speak. It’s for nothing Andrew Jackson said "One man with courage makes a majority".

Who said Rock dumbs you down?

I love these guys at Warwick!
They've finally conducted that study that I always felt was needed. And the results are equally encouraging.

According to a study presented this week to the British Psychological Society Conference. Warwick University's Stuart Cadwallader, who carried out the study, says some of the brightest young people in Britain like nothing more than a monster riff to unwind to after a hard day of being a chess prodigy. The study found that one third of their sample - drawn from members of the National Academy of Gifted and Talented Youth, or Nagty - rated metal among their favourite genres of music, ahead of classical and jazz, two complex genres long thought to be the sound of choice for brainiacs.

Says here:

Researchers found that, far from being a sign of delinquency and poor academic ability, many adolescent "metalheads" are extremely bright and often use the music to help them deal with the stresses and strains of being gifted social outsiders.
And more:
In the savage 'uurrgghh!' of metal you can hear the collective human howl of disgust at a world gone mad. It's the sound of the rejected getting even, the trampled-on standing up, the unbeautiful settling scores with the buffed. Metal is the arena where the most unpleasant human emotions are let out to play - safely, for the most part.

Kumbh Mela of Thinkers!


It's back!
The Mother of all unconferences!
What better place than Bangalore!
Have heard so much, have read so much, have imagined so much.
Now it's time to be there. Or be square.

PS. I am going there as the cofounder of yofa.in - and brother, am I excited!

The Rockstar of Business

Next morning, as I sat in the front row waiting for my turn on the stage, the full weight of the event hit me. There were several thousand people in the room, and approximately 50,000 watching the webcast. It was the very definition of pressure. Steve started the segment that preceded mine, and my heart started pounding. I felt those hundred thousand eyes all about to be focused on me and feared I would crumble. I had done a bit of public speaking before, but nothing like this.

The assistant producer came over to me to guide me to the stairs at the side of the stage. I stood in the dark, watching Steve put up the slide that introduced me. Just then a wonderful thought hit me; in five minutes the whole thing would be over. If I could only keep going for five minutes I would be fine. I bounced up the stairs and on to the stage, and everything was suddenly OK. The demo worked perfectly, the audience seemed to love the product, and their applause was an incredible adrenaline rush.


That's a MacWorld Conference for you. [Courtesy: Behind the Magic Curtain]
And there's just one man who keeps throwing you off your feet every year during his keynote. The one man who can get the closest to a rockstar in Business - Steve Jobs!


OMG! A cockroach just stared at me!

I am amazed and stupefied.
At the sheer over-reactions in the blogging community about 'so-called' death threats to Kathy Sierra.

The internet has always been a place of slurs and swears and threats. And 99.999999% of the times, they are just a way to express your extreme anger and irritation. You are irritated at a person in front of you, you can convey that by your body-language. Whereas, if that person is a thousand miles away and you have never seen him/her, what's the easiest way to do it. Swear! [Agreed. It's a disgusting culture. It's something that I personally dislike and disdain from the bottom of my heart. But, let's accept it, how many times haven't we done it. Don't cheat yourself!]

If I say a 'Fuck you!' while commenting on somebody's blog - does that mean that I am threatening her/him with a sexual threat? Give me a break! The law might say so, but come on! We're reasonable men and women. How many times, haven't we said a 'Fuck You!' (at least to ourselves) when we are frustrated.

I have nothing against the blogging community. But then, I have always felt that these popular bloggers are just shit scared! They are people living in glasshouses throwing stones at any puny mortal creature roaming around, and shout and yell and create a huge fracas when somebody throws a feather at their glasshouse. They are the kind of people who would see a cockroach and yell:

OMG! A cockroach just stared at me
We've grown up in the internet culture. We've seen
How sex sells on the net.
How vulgarity is commonplace.
How innuendos are nothing different.

It is a disgusting culture. Utterly disgusting.
But this is not how you change it. By yelling about misogyny and death threats.

You change the attitude by
NOT giving a shit to all the crap that's on the net.
IGNORING these kind of 'so-called' threats and mocking at them. [Who would kill you for writing a blog called 'Creating passionate users' ?!?!?!]

All ye' bloggers out there - Grow up!

Line moves closer to you

At times when you are on a fuckin' high,
You exceed the 'Line beyond which you are nobody!'
And what is more painful, is when you learn that the line has just moved closer to you.

Quagmire

Nope, it ain't about Glenn Quagmire.

It's about landing in a pile of rotten dirt (like the one I crashed into the other day) because of your choices. It's about making a choice, and asking yourself a hundred times a day whether the choice was right. All because, there is no way to find that out. It's about that fuckin' choice which you cannot backtrack on. It's about that choice which you repent making, every time your mind is idle. It's about that fuckin' choice which exemplifies 'Choice is an illusion'. You never made that choice!

Talking about choices:
Well, "Wow!" is gone. The Leopard is here.

It's been a filthy boring day. What it needs is a dash of Ludwig Van, for it is:

Oh bliss! Bliss and heaven! Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh. It was like a bird of rarest-spun heaven metal or like silvery wine flowing in a spaceship, gravity all nonsense now.

You dream ...



[Dali Art: Othello dreaming of Venice]

You dream of the gondola.
You dream of the moonlight Sonata.
You dream of a McKinsey interview.
You dream of singing 'Look how they shine for you...'
You dream of living in her afterglow.
You just dream ...

They are back!



Sweet Mary! Mother of God! They're back!
As Heaven & Hell - The Band!!!
Woot!!!!!

The Reincarnation of me!

A post dedicated to Vishnu (my 'Rock' godfather!)




Three years ago.
In the corridors of Krishna Bhawan, BITS Pilani lay a cot.
On the cot was a discman with two speakers, and they blared -
Can I play with madness?
Today, I do.

Vishnu & me spent all our time staring at the clear Pilani sky listening to Bruce Dickinson utter the number of the beast. Those were the days when we vowed to God to touch his feet the moment we see him. Those were the days when Iron Maiden was our solace through a torturous lacklustre freshman year at BITS.

It's been three years, but not much has changed.
Iron Maiden are (even now) the much needed solace in this monotonous life.
Bruce Dickinson is still God.
Only Vishnu is a couple of thousand miles away.

But then that's going to change too. He's coming to Bangalore, and yes, we are going to the temple with every headbanging rocker in town.

Yes. I am going to see Iron Maiden perform live!
It IS the reincarnation of me.

Take away my pain



His final scene
The actor bows
And all those years
Are gone somehow
The crowd applauds
The curtain falls.


"Trust me"

The perfect irony!

Misuse of Bandwidth

I was asked to answer this questionnaire, and I didn't find a better way to misuse bandwidth at work. So, here goes!

Three names I go by:
Abhilash, Jackass and Idiot

Three Screen Names:
ali3n, ARchitect, iCon

Three things I like about myself:
The fact that I hate such questionnaires, The fact that I'm filling it up, The fact that I'm not a hypocrite.

Three things I don't like about myself:
The fact that I hate such questionnaires, The fact that I'm filling it up, The fact that I'm not a hypocrite.

Three things that scare me:
Poison darts, Chihuahuas, Black lipstick

Three essentials:
Coffee, Milk, Sugar

Three things I like in the opposite sex:
Email, Email, Email, Email, Email, Email, Female, Email ... Ha! You spotted it didn't ya!

Three things that I want to do badly now:
End this post, Forget that I posted it, Wedgie anyone who laughs at this post

Three careers I am considering right now:
Gangsta rapper, Interplanetary Internet Technician, Creator of such questionnaires

Three places I'd love to go on vacation:
Venice (No, really!), Venus and Mars

Three kids' names I like :
Kid#1, Kid#2, Kid#3

Three things to do before dying:
Become a lizard king, rule the world, and at the end of it all say 'Ah! Screw it!'

Three people who get to take this wonderful (sic) quiz:
Chinmay (for he's going to hate me for this)
Varun (for he's more jobless than I think)
Myself (for I love such quizzes!)

Disclaimer

This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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