Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Live performance - Bollywood

I was reading about the Filmfare awards 2007 and the splendid performance of Hrithik Roshan. In case you haven't seen it as yet, here it is.

Hrithik's performance reminded me of Abhishek's first performance which was really splendid. In case you havent seen that either, enjoy :-)

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

India - The other side of the coin

I don't know how to interpret these numbers, but every time someone starts talking about India's economic growth and its rapid development, my mind wanders on to these numbers.

Lets start with some solid demographic facts and numbers -

Population: 1,095,351,995 (July 2006 est.)
Literacy : 59.5% (source)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate : 0.9% (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - People living with HIV/AIDS : 5.7 million (2005 est.) (source)

Rural electrification - Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Uttranchal, West Bengal etc are some of the states where significant number (more than 10%) of villages are yet to be electrified.

  • Number of Villages (1991 Census) - 5,93,732
  • Villages Electrified (30 May 2006) - 4,39,502
  • Village level Electrification % - 74%
  • Number of Rural households (2001 Census) - 138,271,559
  • Electricity Access - 60,180,685
  • Rural Household level Electrification % - 44%

Some people read (something that media portrays) and start believing that small villages in India have Internet and have their own websites . The facts are very different. Villages don't even have proper drinking water, forget about electricity / computers / internet. Something similar posted on Gigaom. There are number of villages in India where problems range from no proper drinking water,no roads to no electricity and no health facilities.

Tribune had a excellent series of articles on India: The Tasks Ahead. The authors have very articulately written about the problems with India's governance model, how agriculture can start a new economic revolution, en powering women, judicial independence, fighting corruption, health of nation etc.

The point of bringing out these numbers is simply to highlight the fact that everything needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. We as Indians might have achieved phenomenal economic success and development rates, there are still many areas where we need to pull up our socks.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Valentine day - Love poem

I am so slow :-( I realized now that it was valentine week so there had to be a stupid post about some lovey-dovey poem or something. So here it is.

If You Find Love

If you find yourself in love with someone who does not
love you, be gentle with yourself. There is nothing
wrong with you. Love just didn't choose to rest in the
other person's heart.

If you find someone else in love with you and you don't
love her/him, feel honoured that love came and called at
your door, but gently refuse the gift you cannot
return. Do not take advantage, do not cause pain.

How you deal with love is how you deal with you, and
all our hearts feel the same pains and joys, even if
our lives and ways are different.

If you fall in love with another, and she falls in love
with you, and then love chooses to leave, do not try to
reclaim it or to assess blame, Let it go. There is a
reason and there is a meaning. You will know in time.

Remember that you don't choose love. Love chooses you.
All you can really do is accept it for all its mystery
when it comes into your life. Feel the way it fills you
to overflowing, then reach out and give it away.

Give it back to the person who brought it alive in you.
Give it to others who deem it poor in spirit.
Give it to the world around you in anyway you can.

This is where many lovers go wrong. Having been so long
without love, they understand love only as a need.
They see their hearts as empty places that will be
filled by love, and they begin to look at love as
something that flows to them rather than from them.

The first blush of new love is filled to overflowing,
but as their love cools, they revert to seeing their
love as need. They cease to be someone who generates
love and instead become someone who seeks love.
They forget that the secret of love is that it is a
gift, and that it can be made to grow only by giving it

Remember this, and keep it to your heart. Love has its
own time, its own seasons, and its own reason for
coming and going. You cannot bribe it or coerce it, or
reason it into saying. You can only embrace it when it
arrives and give it away when it comes to you.

But if it chooses to leave from your heart or from the
heart of your lover, there is nothing you can do and
there is nothing you should do. Love always has been
and always will be a mystery.

Be glad that it came to live for a moment in your life.
Don't deny love just only you don't want to be hurt...


Share Love. Spread Love. - Lovely Wishes for Valentines

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Ways to reduce computer eyestrain

As a software professional my daily activities involve heavy usage of computers. The main problems associated with such job is eye / neck / back problems and other problems like Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Today lifehacker pointed me to lighting blog's 22 different tips for reducing headaches, backaches, and reducing other symptoms of eyestrain at computer.

The most obvious of them is to take frequent breaks. (You can try WorkRave, AntiRSI for free or pay for similar other softwares rsiwarrior, RSIGuard). The blog suggests other novel ways of arranging seat, lighting, monitor etc to help you.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Configuring Online Radio in Linux

By default online radio services dont work in Linux. I currently had configured the same for my Ubuntu box and thought about writing this article. We must remember that all Linux distributions are limited by patents and license restrictions in some countries, which make it illegal for the distributions to have support for certain restricted formats - They have to avoid formats suppressed by DRM (Digital Rights Management, or Digital Restrictions Management), and hence they are often unplayable.

Now to install these restricted formats on a Ubuntu system -

First ensure the relevant repositories are enabled.

  • Click SystemAdministrationSynaptic Package ManagerSettingsRepositories and then click Add. Check the Community maintained (Universe) and Non-free (Multiverse) boxes. When you close the window, click Reload.

  • Install the packages. While you could install packages individually using Synaptic, a quicker way would be as follows. Click Application → Accessories → Terminal and paste the following command:

    sudo apt-get install gstreamer0.10-pitfdll gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg
    gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad-multiverse
    gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly-multiverse gxine
    libxine-main1 libxine-extracodecs ogle ogle-gui
  • To play most DVDs you'll need the libdvdcss2 package from here. This is a third party package, and not supported by Ubuntu. See instructions to install the file.

  • You can also install Adobe Flash Player and additional Windows codecs that are only available in third-party repositories.

After this go and click ahead on any online radio site and enjoy the music. You can find about the Hindi radio I wrote about few days back here.

More info - Detailed instructions

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

India Poised Video featuring Amitabh.

I wish everyone who saw this video took inspiration from it and did something right. I previously posted about how Indian's dont take pride in themselves. This has to change and it's high time it happened.

THe HINDI version.

The ENGLISH version.

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Open source software's - You can't Resist !

Few weeks back I posted a list of must-try open source software's. Taking that forward, here is a list of other open source software's that are very handy and work really well. Once you start liking open-source software's you will never look on PAID software's.

RSS Readers

RSSOwl is one of many open source RSS readers. In other words, it enables you to use one program to keep track of the content of a lot of different blogs, news sites, stock tickers etc. If you have a laptop, it’s preferable to using sites like Bloglines, Google Reader, Netvibes etc; but if you’re on a desktop, a web-based feed manager might be better.
Two other products that you also try are - RssBandit, BlogBridge

File Transfer

Filezilla (Replaces WinFTP)
If you have ever had the need to transfer files from one computer to another, you know what I am talking about. This is a quick, easy to use application that does file transfers, and that too sweetly :-)


If your job involves taking notes and organizing them, this is the killer app for you. Even though the product will have no new feature addition (the author is hard pressed for time and can't work on this product), it serves the job well as it is. The cool feature set includes organizing your notes in a tree / hierarchical format and password protecting them.

Freemind is a “mind mapping” software program. If this doesn't make you say "Wow", there is something wrong with you (just kidding!). In simple words, it enables you to brainstorm and link ideas together quickly and easily. You create "maps" of ideas/concepts similar to what you would do on a whiteboard.

Notepad2 (Replaces Notepad)
Notepad2 is a replacement for the traditional Windows Notepad and adds a lot of features: multiple documents; line, word, and character counts; text highlighting of tags. For Linux users, you can say its like a graphical vim user interface.

Media Player / Rippers

MusikCube (Replaces WinAmp, iTunes)
MusikCube is easily the best choice available for a music organizer and player. It organizes your mp3s, makes it really easy and really fast to find them, and allows you to make some incredibly clever smart playlists. It is very close to a amarok version for windows.

Just load your DVD disc in your drive and boom this software will take care of all your ripping needs. You can rip DVDs and save them on your laptop and enjoy movies on your trip / vacation. Currently the windows version of the product needs more work, but otherwise the product works like a charm on Max-OS and Linux.

Safety, Security and Encryption

KeePass is a program that securely stores and manages the gazillion passwords we all use on a daily basis. Over a period of few years, everyone ends up having hundred's of username and passwords and keeping track of all becomes cumbersome. KeePass keeps them all for me and keeps them safe.

TrueCrypt enables you to store files securely. You can create space on your hard-drive and store files there or convert a memory stick into a strongly encrypted data storage device i.e., store personal data without having to worry about its security. Sample cases can include keeping your accounts, bank statements etc.

Miscellaneous Utilities

PDFCreator (Replaces Adobe Acrobat)
PDFCreator creates a virtual printer on your computer and if you print a document to this virtual printer from any program, creates a PDF of that document that can be read on any computer with Acrobat Reader on it. You don't need to shell out money for Adobe Professional or any other utility when this sweet utility does the same job for you totally free !

GnuCash (Replaces Microsoft Money or Quicken)
GnuCash is a slimmed-down version of Microsoft Money and Quicken packages, but it contains all of the features a user wants for managing money. The interface is incredibly simple, but the software has a lot of punch.

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Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Banking services in US

I just noticed a pretty big business oppurtunity / problem with the banking services. I have a bank account with ABC. A few days back I opened a bank account with some other bank XYZ (hoping for better services). I initiated a bank to bank trasnfer from ABC to XYZ. I was informed that the transfer could take anything between 1-3 days. The money was deducted from my ABC account on the 2 day ie. today, but that money didnt show up in my account in XYZ. The transaction is still shown under "Pending" in XYZ. Technically the money has just vanished and I dont have it in any of my accounts.

I see this as a very big potential business oppurtunity. Either of the banks could have put my transaction on a hold for a day and since its still not the 3rd day, they can always safely say that in this case the transaction took 3 days. The key point to note is that one of the banks has my money but still hasnt upgraded my account status. If hundred's of such transactions were happening every day (which I am sure do happen), the bank stands to have a phenomenal amount of money at hand, on which they dont need to pay any interest but can play around with that money :-). You can potentially do day-trading and make huge profits.

The other point being that is so obvious - a problem for a normal consumer / customer. Why does a bank to bank transfer take 3 days in this so called Internet age? Well I know banking services in US are pathetic to say the least, but that does not mean that customers can be taken for a ride ! At times I cant believe that I am actually in US and the kind of services being offered are accepted by people. Seems to me as if I am living in 19th century. Some more minor samples of banking services that I have witnessed firsthand are -

  • A (intra city) wire transfer took more than 3 days.
  • Banks charge fees for incoming wire transfers (even in India I didnt pay for that)
  • Cheques are not always free. (The only service so called banks provide is happily take your money and laugh on you)
  • Your account is not free if you cant maintain a minimum balance or make direct deposits.

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Monday, February 5, 2007

4 liquid stages of life :-)

Received this in a fwd. Looked interesting :-) 

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Thursday, February 1, 2007

Online Indian Music - Radio Teentaal

I recently discovered Radio Teentaal, a web-radio dedicated to "100% Indian music". The cool thing is - it works perfectly in Linux :-)

Currently the radio is being streamed from Paris, certainly no surprise that it is being streamed from some western country, since such kind of bandwidth is still not really affordable/available in India. It was surprising that I could not find anything interesting / similar from UK, US, Canada or another English-speaking country with large NRI community.

Anyway, they play the latest popular Bollywood beats, no commercials, no interruptions, not even the self-advertisement jingles. Just pure music, at 128kBps stereo mp3. They also have a 64kBps version if you cant enjoy the high bandwidth.

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Google woes continue - Now its google news!

Google's problem never seem to stop. Earlier I wrote about Orkut and Gmail security bug. Now its the google news site that is behaving erratically. Its extremely slow and is skipping sections of news. This image shows one such shot where it decided to skip everything. If you are also noticing such behavior, please let me know.

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