Saturday, January 28, 2006

Chronicles of a nerd....

When i say the word *nerd* , I mean it in derogatory sense and not in the Napolean Dynamite's glorious form. I have my own definition of a nerd : Someone who spends more time doing what he likes best (generally only one) than with other human beings.
In my case, I definitely spend more time with my laptop than with other human beings. Not that I am doing my projects, just lazing around and tweeking stuff....

I am not a very fond of physical strain. I try to avoid exercises or trip to gym, and when i go to the gym, I discover new lows of my physical strength. Today was no different. I and X (he likes anonymity) were supposed to play ping pong today, a not so terribly taxing game. Now one thing about Mr X is that he is a geek but not a nerd... the types the world desperately need and the ones who will inherit the earth (X, dont kill me.... just a little spice is what everyone needs).
After loosing 4 ping pong games and 3 raquet ball games to him (that was all i could play), i called it a day. Not just ping pong or any other sport, i suck at chess, backgammon, pool etc... even the computer games. I realized that the only game I was good at is Hide & Seek.... too bad it is not there in olympics.

In genral we Indians suck at physical labour and time management.... there are quite a few exceptions though. X suggested an ingenious idea to schedule time for excercise... hmmm I can conquer my 2 of my biggest enimies. pray for me people

Friday, January 27, 2006

To be or not to be...

Well today I saw new signs of instinctive behavior in me I never saw before. For the past few days I was having a compulsion to gift myself with something so every possible stimuli makes me escatic :P
I was reading a blog entry on carnivorus plants being sold at thinkgeeks. I went to thinkgeeks ... saw a T shirt with a cool logo and bought it without a hitch. Later I analysed that the deal was not good enough so cancelled the order. Later today I was listening to flute (yeah i listen to reaaly slow music when I code opposite to the normal coder crowd) and one thing lead to another. I had a recollectoin of one of the Corrs playing a tin whistle. That coupled with the fact that my father has around 30 flutes made me buy the tin whistle with the tutorials (for $30!!). I cancelled that order 5 minutes later and changed the music to hip hop. Playing flute(or a tin whistle) is a luxury I definitely can afford, given my hectic routine.

Downloaded Revolution OS finally. Reviews on my movie blog. :)

update: Read this post in the morning.... filled with typos and grammatical mistakes. I was really sleepy.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Ultimate Frustation....

Sometimes I get an itch to hack something and does not go until I break or make it. And if neither happens then I am really frustated. Recently I was trying to integrate SimpleViewer with the flickr badge on my site.
So I saw a story in, the article's author had a page with a photos tab. The photos were displayed in a really nifty fashion and was really light weight. They were made using SimpleViewer, a free flash based software. So all you have to do is download the zip files (which contain fex xml and css files and few directories), put the jpeg pics and their thumbnails in the directories and voila!!, you have a very professional looking photo page.

Now the fact that it was done statically was really troubling me. I wanted it to directly take most recent pics from my flickr account... the way the flickr badge on my site does. I viewed the source of my page, particularly the part enclosed in the flickr badge code. There was a link embedded somewhere inside. Just copied the link on the browser... it spit out some pics and gibberish. Next I did a view source for that link and was able to see the links those jpeg images were pointing to and their captions... now all i had to do was to write a small perl script to do this programatically and put it in desired folders... but there was one problem, i needed 48 x 48 thumbnails in one of the folders. I was overwhelmed... the problem looked almost solved. I could just call "convert" from the command line ( the web server was running SunOS2.8 with gcc 2.95 :( ). How wrong was I???
There was no ImageMagick (of which convert is a part of) on that damn machine. Of course web servers (particularly my univ's web server hosting a gazillion sites) have to be lean and mean. I was not yet deterred. Downloaded the tar ball and ftpied it up to the machine (the connection sucked) and compiled it. The "./configure" part took for ever and the "make" halted abruptly :(.
Now I totally lost it. Flooded with help pleas.... #web came to rescue and one guy/gal had done the same thing(with convert). He suggested me to use the gd library. So all I had to do was to write program using GD library to convert a pic into a thumbnail... I dont complain... i like doing that sortta stuff. But before I got all charged up ls /usr/lib/libgd* revealed that there was infact no GD library... even #web said nothing can be done...

After 6 hours of head banging all i get is.... blood... what was i expecting???solaris stinks.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Designer Desktop

Check it out....
Now I am a sucker for apple products... but just for the looks. Moreover I am comfortable with x86 install base. I was planning to get rid of windows for a long time but alas windows is like a mistress you wanna get rid of but cant. (I have it for my projects and damn college site which wont open in firefox)... So making windows tolerable was the only option left.
The mac looking toolbar is object dock and is really kewl. The background is... well I cant tell you.. you never took the pill ;P

If life was automatix

I have embarked upon the adventurous journey with ubuntu. Every day is a new invigorating experience for me. I was never able to be completely independent of windows... But ubuntu has changed the way I view things.

It came with Firefox1.07 and to install firefox1.5 I had to undergo a lot of trouble. Now as most of you know that running video on linux is a pain and there are compatibility issues. Even if u install vlc, some sites still crib about windows media player. Automatix comes into picture now....

It installs FF1.5 with all the plugins it can find along with full multimedia support. It was really one happy moment in my life when mplayer fired up in firefox to play wmp video. Totem works just as great to play all other stuff. Later installed enlightenment and fluxbox and was immediately transformed to another world, although I wont be shifting to them anytime sooner.

I discovered a funny thing by mistake. I dont know if it works on windows but if you are running firefox on linux, right click the icon... the target will be firefox %u. Change it to firefox %s. For a second I thought that there was an adware on my linux box :-|. And BTW automatix does lot more than just install firefox. It installs some 40 other hard to get and install software on Ubuntu breezy (/me teases FC users)... although it does pops a message saying that it is illegal to use the codecs in US :P ... Pirata ergo sum :). Ubuntu's NTFS integration is also really kewl.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Grow up Fedora

I have been a redhat/Fedora fan. I started with redhat 7.1 and was with it till Fedora 4. Fedora's strength lies in support for a wide variety of systems and larger application base, better advertisement, cooler closer to Windows look (very important for people making a transition). Almost all applications have a rpm package along with a tar ball download. Despite a lot of breakage I felt content with fedora until i used Debian.
I started using it when Dr Howard teased me into using Debian even though I argued vainly to use fedora. Anyway I gave it a try and was fixated. It made me hate my laptop with FC4 installed on it. So in this break I went on to check for a feasible replacement for FC4. Gentoo and Ubuntu were the two contenders and Ubuntu won because of its closeness to Debian. I had been using Ubuntu hoary for few month, now am on breezy. Working on Ubuntu is like playing doom in god mode... nothing can go wrong....
I was installing VMware on it....
i got an error: Make not present
big deal i did $sudo apt-get install make ... problem solved
next i got error: Kernel compiled with gcc version 3.4.5 and gcc 4.0.1 present.
Now in FC4 I can overcome this by either recompiling the kernel with gcc 3.4.5 or installing gcc 3.4.5 and setting flags etc etc... u get the point.
But now all i did was $apt-get install gcc-3.4
How hard is that!!

Next he wanted linux header files... hmmm so do i need to install the whole source???? Not a chance.. $apt-get install linux-headers-386 BINGO

Fedora is a good distro but it is trying to please too many people and is making many unhappy in the process. When I go with the typical install... I don't want eclipse to be installed and I guess they will install Mono by default in FC5... god save FC5. No doubt the popularity of Ubuntu is increasing. The key is knowing what not to add in a distro ,and not, what add in it. Fedora should definitely grow up...

Update: Just finished setting up my computer for my Computer security course. FC4 and Minix on Vmware on Ubuntu (it has to be on vmware... platform can be any).... phew really Z0onked

Friday, January 20, 2006

Sips from academics....

I have been asked a lot of times about the courses I am studying and the work I have been involved in for the past one sem, so instead of " is..." I thot redirecting them to my blog will be a better idea.

Lemme start with the "work" first. I have been doing research in Computation Neuroscience. It is a part of Psychology dept. If you are wondering, what is a Computer Science grad student doing in psychology dept... you are not the only one. And apparently there is a lot of study going on in the field of psychology and it is much much more that studying crack pots and serial killers. I am working on the Episodic recall model of the memory. Briefly there are two types of memories in animals (including humans)... Semantic memory (Table is similar to chair because you have read it some where) and Episodic memory(they are similar because you have seen them together somewhere). This and this should give you a brief idea. Basically i simulate different models which tells that table is similar to chair and different from a bag. It is really complex and we make heavy usage of numerical recipies and MPI... The sickest part is the programs take around two weeks to run on 140 processor cluster. But nevertheless it is a great experience and gives a solid insight into human psyche.

I have taken Object oriented designing, Computer security and formal methods this sem. Well all three of them are canned courses. OOD is a C++ marathon course where I am gonna polish my C++ skills along with the intricacies of OOD tech which, believe me most of us lack. Computer Security is one slick course... it tells how to fix and detect the vulnerabilities (and exploit them)... how to detect and destroy viruses( and make them), to implement authentication (and break them ). Formal methods is more of a mathematics like course and is more like puzzle solving.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

My Blood type...

Your Inner Blood Type is Type A

You seem cool and collected, though a bit shy.
You are highly driven and a perfectionist, but that's a side you keep to yourself.
Creative and artistic, you are a very unique person who doesn't quite fit in.
People accept you more than you realize, seeing you as trustworthy and loyal.

You are most compatible with: A and AB

Famous Type A's: Britney Spears and Hilter

Interestingly my bloodgroup is A+ (dont forward me the junk mail about a 5 year old kid needing blood ... she has been 5 years old for the last 6 years)

Friday, January 13, 2006


I found the following post in the annals of a usenet group comp.dsp ( well my friend is a member of that group and he asked me this riddle). Here it goes:

This little gem was in one of Raymond Smullyan's books:

A philosphy student walks into class one day and his
professor makes the following announcement: "We will
have a pop quiz sometime next week. When you first come
to class on the day of the quiz, you will not know whether
or not the quiz is going to be given on that day."

Being logical, the student began reasoning to himself:

"If the professor waited until Friday to give the quiz,
then I would know that the quiz would have to be that
day. So it can't be Friday. If the professor waited until
Thursday to give the quiz, then, since I know it can't
be Friday, I would know it had to be that day (Thursday).
So it can't be Thursday."

He proceeded along this line of reasoning all the way back
to Monday, concluding that the quiz could not be given on
any day next week. What is the flaw in his logic?

I have racked my brains on this one... let me know if you find an answer.
Gives a vague usage of Godel's theorem.... you might want to check that out.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I know your computer better than you do....

The recent root kit bust of Symnatec has raised a serious question, and as always, its between technology and ethics. Norton installed the rootkit and hid it fron Win API because they thought that it would be the best way to avoid detection by viruses and no one likes an anti virus getting effected (much like the idea of a doctor getting sick is hard to digest). This certainly raises a few ethical issues.
Yes, it was a root kit they installed, so what !!
Rootkit has become a sort of over rated buzzword... non tech people, majority of those who are protesting, take it in the same league as murder, and robbery. I am not an anarchist or against democracy and free world, but i do feel that we should rely on someone with greater knowledge when it comes to technology, just like you trust your president/ prime minister to do something good for your country. Trust an antivirus company to do good for your computer.

For one thing Symnatec was not trying to smuggle documents out of your PC. Secondly most desktop users who use the antivirus are not concerned if their grocery list is smuggled out of their computer. Banishing norton for the rootkit is like taking an antibiotic which kills antibiotics which kills bacterias in your stomach, just because you think all bacterias are pathogenic. The "smart guy" who exposed this root kit is perhaps "not so smart" as he gave the virus guys norton's weak spot to attack.

When will mankind know the difference between the "good thing" and the "right thing" ??

read more | digg story

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Unbelievable CGI woman

Check this link out....
This picture was made entirely from scratch using photoshop. The rendering is just perfect and it is the best artificial human face I ever saw. This is not modelled on a clay/putty and then digitized but drawn from scratch.

Just struck me that now geeks wont need a real girl afterall, they can create(in near future) one for themselves. :)

read more | digg story

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Friends forever

Today Jan 7,2006 3:42 am.... I finished watching the whole of FRIENDS series. I finished the entire season in barely a week so believe me when I say that I used to watch that stuff for atleast 7 hrs a day.... and before you make any joke, I do work... I just cut my sleeping time.

I was totally able to connect to the characters in the episode. Since I was practically watching it everytime I was in home for the past couple of days, I almost felt like a part of it. Phoebe, Joey, Chandler, Monica, Rachel and Ross were almost my family. The last episode got me totally sentimental. I was able to feel the heavy drama behind the cover of comedy. My group in Bangalore was something like that (except that we din sleep or kiss each other)... and I really miss them.

Friends ROCK...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Interview....

Few days back I had applied for an internship in Intel. Yesterday I got a mail asking me if I was ready for a phone screening. Fate wanted to play its game and I woke at 7 am today, that is really early for me, given that I sleep at around 3 am at night. Now since I didnt feel like sleeping so browsing felt like a totally viable option.
There was a mail from Intel asking me if I wanted to get interviewed today.... and I said yes. Now I never had a technical interview before. I was lucky to have lot of job offers without going through a proper interviewing process. (well my cv is kindda awesome :D). The interview was scheduled at 2:00 pm mountain arizona time. The anticipation really killed me.... you would be knowing how first interviews are!! Man was I shaky???
Although I was able to answer most of the questions but clearly I wasnt at my personal best. I was shaking uncontrollably. There were moments when I realised that i wasnt breathing and I had to conciously try to breathe. Some times I was so shaky and my hands were shaking so violently that I had to excuse myself for a while and make a fake coughing noise. One bad thing about phone screening is that it totally eliminates any facial cues provided by the interviewer. The pain continued for around 1 hour. My roomy told me that I did pretty good (thats because he is an electronics guys and took glib answers for confidence).

Pray for me. Who knows someday, you guys will be using an ATM programmed by me :)

Customer Care

Well my post have been less frequent lately, I have been busy with my work lately but todays incident was a kick in ass ... I cant stop bitching about Vonage Customer Care.

I had a Road runner internet connection (I still have it) which is connected to a wireless router. I recently applied for a Vonage connection and had the setup done yesterday (I mean i did it myself... i got the stuffs delivered). This felt quite strange as I never imagined phone a tech gadget that has to be tinkered with or setup... In India all you have to do is to connect it to a socket or if you are unable to do it, call the local telephone repairmen, pay them Rs10 ($ .4) and get the damn thing working.
As usual i did not RTFM and made my own connections. I connected the modem to the linksys router provided by vonage and connected that to the wireless linksys router. My comp connects to the wireless router but I was not able to access the internet, but vonage connection was working fine. I had to go to work so instead of hacking around, I tried the easy way... called the customer care.

After a frustating 1 hour talk with the customer care officials, who seem to enjoy telling me to Click on the start button, Go to accesories, open command prompt and type p-as in papa, i-as in india, n-nigeria, ... it was really demeaning. The most frustating part was their accent. They were indians but sounded as if they were talking English for the first time (Man.. and believe me Indian english is good). After one hour I was told that my linksys router was flawed and I should call the linksys customer care.
I was going to give up when my roomy, sudheer, who was listening to this rant all the time asked me to change the gateway address (he is a ccna). And the damn setup started working. Two lessons learnt:
1)never call the customer care.
2)Learn more about networks.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Errors AAAH

I tried installing Haloscan to my blog... just trying it out. But after republishing I am getting the following error:
001 No space left on deviceblog/54/48/4/codeyman/archives/2005_12_01_codeyman_archive.html

Any ideas?? Life sucks... Hope my blog survives this catastrophe