Scuba dooba doo!

I went to scuba dive at Netrani. Yey! Among other fishes, had a close look at a scorpion fish and stared back at a muray eel staring at us with its head out of the rocks. The scorpion fish was so well camouflaged that it took me a minute to even recognize that there was a fish out there on a maroon and brown coloured rock. And about the murray eel, my instructor would take his hands near its head and the eel would slide back inside the rock, all the while looking at us. But as soon as he would take his hands off, it would come back again to stare at us. Both of those fishes made it clear that it was there teritory! Unfortunately, the dive lasted only 40 minutes. But a memorable one. After and before the dive I was snorkeling at the clear waters near the island. We saw the parrot fish which had brilliant colors and Napoleon Wrasse among other unidentified fishes.

We went through a group called the adivaas, that wanted to introduce people to scuba diving and apart from that, some of their members are on a certificate course on diving.

I am inspired and I am going to take some swimming classes here. I do not know to swim! But the surprising part is I could swim with the fins on my legs. Probably not so surprising looking at it technically, since the fins were giving me the extra thrust to keep me afloat. But the fact that thrilled me is that I can thrash my legs and arms arround to stay afloat. I think all this preparation is for my plans to scuba at Andaman. Lets see. In all, a memorable experience and I would love to do it again.

Of Supremacy of Indian Women!

On my travel to office, one of my backup options (other than reading/practicing kannada or reading books) is to listen to FM. There is this show which targets women audience which is aired in the evening (offcourse it is sponsored by a cosmetics company that, among other products, sells the “make you a pale”! cream also). One fine day, the host was asking a question that goes like this. “Do you believe that Indian women are the most beautiful in the world?”. There were enough women calling in and saying something along the lines that “yes we are beautiful”. But I was thinking of the same question, put in a different manner.

The question rephrased would be: “Do you believe all other women in the world are less beautiful compared to us Indian women”. Any takers? If someone agreed to the above question, wouldn’t they become less beautiful since they disapprove there gender worldwide. And moving further, since you have been proven to be less beautiful for looking down upon your own gender, saying yes is a false statement.  This argument moves further and further to “yes” being a false answer!

Questions are covered up so well, that probably, our human brain does not detect the anomaly! Too much of black swan book I guess :).

Off-course, all this is naught if for women, looking down upon other women is considered to not affect their beauty. So the next question is what is beauty? Reminds me of the word quality and “zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance”. Probably all this is just my perception of beauty! Heh? .. Enough!

As a side note, I am adding the word forget to my blog heading.. Among other things that I do, I also forget frequently. So now the heading looks like:

Observe Think Analyse Tweak Travel Forget… Kill Time!

Don’t compare with others and still be the best?

One of the upcoming young leaders in indian politics, replies “We shouldn’t compare ourself with other countries. We are the best”.

First of all, is that a paradox? The moment you say ‘best’, you have started to compare, which is exactly what you have denounced in the previous statement. But then, he did not prepare any speech and was answering questions from youngsters on the spot. I guess his motive was to motivate, hence I will take it on a positive note but with just a little lack of direction. This reminds me of my previous post here.

Black swan and graveyard of the firefiles

I am into another book by Naseem Nicholas Taleb called The black swan. The previous one being Fooled by randomness which I described earlier here. Again, a few pages into the book, it has taken me into thoughts about how our thoughts are wired, some more reason to not watch TV, to not take daily news seriously and some more insight into the fallacy of using the bell curve ( Remembed the Gaussian distribution?) in predicting the future based on past events and that, seeing only white swans your entire life does not mean there are no black swans out there in the world somewhere!

I downloaded an anime movie that goes by the name graveyard of the firefiles. I have taken a break after watching the first 50 mins. I could hardly hold myself after 15 mins into the movie. I instinctively know where it is going. Its a tough watch. The art and scenes are very powerful. It took 15 minutes for me to recover after watching those 50 mins. The rest, I will see tommorow or whenever I can spare an hour after watching the movie to recooperate from the shock that is coming. I go through sad movies with very little after effects. But this one is too powerful. No doubt it has won several awards.

News Media, ‘Indians and Science’

Anyone going through the news media would notice the chaos that it triggers in us. We also know that almost every news paper is in a frenzy to produce the most sought after news every minute and increase their TRP. If the criteria to remain in the job andfor moving up the ladder in an organization is to create the most sensational news, it is understandable. On a bigger scale, if the aim of a news channel is to beat any other news channel at any give time, then the quickest way is to resort to the usual tactics of making every news a ‘ground breaking’, ‘roof thrashing’ news. With the common news media understood, we can say creating such news has become a simple affair. The most challenging task is not in the hands of the ones creating the news, but the ones consuming it. Take for example, the claims of Dr. Santhanam about India’s nuclear programme. In all the chaos, I could extract that Dr. Santhanam was one of DRDO’s men for site instrumentation, who would be responsible for measuring the yield. He came out with the claim that the yield was not even close to what was publicized. I think that’s all there was to it. May be I am wrong but who cares. Trying to extract news out of enternment information is almost impossible if not stupid. Moving on, we were proud of our achievement in 1998. Weren’t we? If his claims are true, then looking back, we liked the alternate reality that was presented to us during that time. A news with a high ‘make us happy, proud’ entertainment value. But after the claims by santhanam we also did fall for the thrill of ‘make us scared, feel cheated’ news! Having fallen for almost every emotion triggering news, shouldn’t we conclude that the news being delivered is just entertainment? The tiny non-entertainment news is tough to extract. There are other questions, like what is non-entertainment news? I will stop here, enough! I had not posted anything for a long time now. Hence this post! A peek into my thoughts when I hop past a entertainment (news) channel.

rar, password and movie files

During my hunt for the anime movie ghost in the shell, I downloaded a ‘rar’ed  file. I found out after the download, that it was password protected. I did not expect that. But there it was, 700 MB file in my system but I could not use it. I decided that I would let a brute force password cracker run on it for as long as it wants. But my madness for the anime got over me and I stopped the software in an hour. I remembered that while trying to unrar, the entire movie file was getting extracted . The important fact is that the entire file is extracted. I just had to find a way to stop it from getting removed. For my purpose, it did not matter why it was extracting the entire file. We know it has to use some system call to remove the file. With that knowledge, I ran unrar under gdb and inserted breakpoints at remove and unlink system calls. And, my luck, the breakpoint was hit! I could see the entire file sitting in my directory waiting for it to get copied before rar removes it.

Unfortunately the movie was in japanese without any subtitles. I had to start the search all over again.

Happy new year

Err .. a bit late though. Sorry!
2009 for me:
All my plans to become a pro in computer graphics did not materialize, no matter how much I tried, I figured its not for me. After 4 months of trying hard, I couldn’t get interested in it. Today, I could just easily skim through my electronics basics even though its been arround two years since I read an electronics book. So it seems I will forever be the one talking to the hardware through software. Only time can say for sure.

I learned a bit of Kannada and I can read and understand Kannada text. But my plans to read amarchitra katha in kannada did not materialize. Just when I was about to dig deep, other more important tasks came in.

I started reading a 2400 page Tamil historical novel by the name ponniyin selvan written by Kalki Krishnamurthy (It was serialized in 1950’s for 3.5 years). I am in the last 300 pages now. I did not know we had such great authors in India. Shame on me.

The US visit was mind boggling. I came to know what it would be like to visit an alien world where unknown people wish you and cars stop for you when crossing the road. I plan to visit other alien worlds this year.

I started off with Anime and manga this year. Naruto, Rurouni Kenshin and Deathnote. The best anime IMO is Deathnote. Only 36 episodes and no fuss. Twenty mins for each episode and by the second episode you are hooked. Rakesh saw 2 episodes yesterday and he is in his 12th episode today. I pity him for the addiction!

And many more ..

I hope 2010 was atleast as fun as last year. Have made all the plans and I just have to stray away from my plans to make it more fun. Easy :).

I Learned to fool people…

It seems I have learned to fool people into believing that I speak kannada! Three guys I met at my office, a driver in a bus, 2 bus conductors and atleast three autowalahs, one pizza delivery guy are my recent victimes! How do I know that? They started talking to me kannada straight away. The incident with the bus driver was hilarious. I deliberately start talking in kannada to  start a conversation. Say I want a ticket to “cmh”. Instead of saying just the place name and handing over the money, I say something more. I say “cmh hogakke eshtu aaguthe?”. He replies “haidu”. Then I hand over the change and say “thogolli”. He hands over the ticket with one hand while he is driving with the other. Now, I have to talk, so I say “illi thumba traffic aguthe”! You can see how I practice now. But on that occasion, the driver smiled a bit and started telling a joke.I could hardly make out what the joke was but since in the end he was laughing I gave him good company. You know those situations were you should have raised your hand right at the start of a lecture instead of waiting for some more time and ask. And the lecturer goes “that is basic and what were you doing till now?”. Now, I could not tell that guy that I know only a little bit of kannada and dissappoint him after he has told his joke. So I did a good thing by acting like I understood. I had to do it. You should never dissappoint someone trying to cheer you up!

Back to kannada now. I have decided that I have reached a stage where I should no longer read transliterated text. Hence, going to buy some first standard kannanda books and learn kannada alphabets. Then, read those kids’ story books. What better way to learn a language than by reading it? By this year end I should know all the alphabets and should be fluent enough in reading kannada.


An excerpt from the movie Ghost in the shell 1995. Major Motoko Kusanagi’s (A cyborg) words…

Just as there are many parts needed to make a human a human,
there’s a remarkable number of things needed to make
an individual what they are.
A face to distinguish yourself from others.
A voice you aren’t aware of yourself.
The hand you see when you awaken.
The memories of childhood, the feelings for the future.
That’s not all. There’s the expanse of the data net
my cyber-brain can access.
All of that goes into making me what l am.
Giving rise to a consciousness that l call ”me.”
And simultaneously confining ”me” within set limits.

Status Update!

For a long time, I read Calvin and Hobbes everyday before sleeping. A good way to end the day. But the ten year collection got over a month back. Out of books, I bought “For the love of insects” by Thomas Eisner. Now, I read it in my free time and its a totally different world out there. I have long stopped watching wild life TV channels. I feel one spends 30 minutes watching an episode to get 5 minutes of information from them. You mostly get the adrenalin rush from watching a ‘deadliest animal in this whole planet’!. But in the book, the author elaborates on means by which discoveries were made, how a hypotheses is proven and dis-proven about an insect’s life and it doesn’t matter how deadly they are. You unravel the mystery and marvel at the complexity of insect life. The details were never this exciting and simple. You remember when you solve a tough problem and slowly and steadily you are reaching your aim and the excitment grows with every step?. It takes you through such experiences of the author, not always ending in great new discoveries, but the satisfaction in it. The book, I think surely achieves one of it aims, which is to create awareness about insect world. Whenever I see an insect now, I spend time analyzing what it is doing. I have this little knowledge about insects now that I don’t squash it or shove it away. Some time back I picked up this bug and noticed that they seemed to jump from my hand from the edge to the ground every time I pick them up. I guess they are already programed to know that they are light weight and a high fall doesn’t mean a hard fall.

I also read “Surely you are joking Mr. Feynman”. This book along with the one above, gives you new ways to think about day-to-day events. A colleague of mine mentioned that he always looks for books that change the way he thinks. These are those books.

Wrote an alsa driver sometime back and that has changed what I think when I listen to music with my headphones on. After all that work, I come home and plug my head phone. I start imagining numbers flowing from a file somewhere in the hard disk. I say to myself that its all numbers. All it does is hit your ear drums after going through the dac. I did all the testing with my headphone on. You see, while I am testing this audio driver, all I am doing in waiting for that glitch or pop sounds that come up. While configuring the codec mode and clock format, I am visualizing the data in numbers and the frame sync for the right and left channels. I also had to dump the audio data to verify if data is coming form the user space to the kernel space and then to the codec. All this has changed the way I experience music with my headphones on! Apart from all that, for the first time, I got to hear my work sing to me!

And I saw the anime movie ghost in the shell  and ghost in the shell SAC.