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Anomalizer's Journal
Unintended consequences
22nd-Jul-2009 12:16 pm - Edge side includes
Today I ran into ESI. For a couple of years, I've been saying we need something like this. The most obvious case is when we have static web page with one ad. This page cannot be served using a HTTP accelerator since there is one small dynamic piece in an otherwise static page. With ESI, it is now possible to cache the "static" part and then stitch a new ad on every request.

At this point, I haven't found how old ESI is, but it has great potential. The best part is that varnish supports it in some fashion. Go PHK!
14th-Jul-2009 11:43 pm - Relax
It has been a long time since I wrote something substantial. Today I felt the urge to write something for the joy of writing. And write I shall without ranting. In fact, what better topic than how to beat the stress and relax. So here are some obvious and some surprising things that seem to work for me.

For a long time, doktortong & karthikdinakar have been suggesting that I need to go to a gym. It so happens that everytime I go there in the evenings, I'm convinced that it makes me too tired for a workday. The surprising part is that even if I do go at mornings on workdays, it still turns out to be ok. If anything, it does seem to have a visibly calming effect on me. Yet, I am still finding it hard to reach my initial levels of 3 trips a week.

Watching brain numbing programmes on the idiot box has been another therapy that has served me well over the years. WWE used to be a prime candidate at some point. Pimp my ride was another example. These days I've been rewarded with the mother of all such serials in form of Rakhi Sawant ka swayamvar. This masterpiece most certainly deserves a writeup of it's own but that is for another day.

Then there is the time tested technique of talking it out(pardon the alliteration). If something is bothering you, just find a patient listener and pour it all out. It still works to this day. And I'm talking of real listeners; not the 1000 twitter followers you bought for $87.

A solitary walk on a cloudy and windy day where there is hardly any vehicular movement around is a surreal experience.

Writing would have made it to the list but for the fact that there seems to be set notion of having conclusion to anything you write. I've always found it very hard since my schooling days to come up with a meaningful conclusion of any essay and to this day, I face that difficulty. Barring that minor inconvenience caused by tradition, writing would also qualify in the list. And as sign of protest and in a quest to remain relaxed, I shall end this piece without a proper conclusion.
Somebody pointed this out the tyranny of induction to me recently. It goes like this: If you failed the first time, have been trying since then and, kept failing every time you tried after just failing, you will fail the next time you try.

In plain speak, if you haven't ever succeeded at something as yet, there is no reason to believe you will ever succeed at it. How encouraging!
I never imagined why someone would pay a hundred rupees to copy over your mobile phone contacts until I actually tried it. My old SE K600i supports "send all contacts" over bluetooth. I tried that and the new E63 just picks up the first entry. Kmobiletools was completely unable to write back the the address book of the E63; so the VCF import it had generated from K600i was useless. Finally I had get down to running Nokia's PC sync software on my laptop to only realize it does not accept vcf files directly. The vcf file needs ot be imported into Outlook or its ilk and the sync happens from there. That's when I saw Vista's "Windows contacts" ask me something to the effect of "are you sure" for every contact when i gave it a VCF file. It all came down to me writing a trivial vcf splitter in perl and generating one conatct per file and then mass importing those files into Vista's contacts and then performing a sync.

And before you wonder, cool business phones don't read contacts on the phone SIM; so the desparate trick of "copy all contacts to SIM" was also not an option.

If it takes someone who works for a mobile phone app related compant this hard to get contact transfers right, I see why it is actually a paid service.
20th-May-2009 10:50 pm - 10K celebrations
Why hasn't anyone come up with the idea of celebrating their 10,000 days of existance on this planet. It roughly falls in the 5th month of the 28th year. And you need to be moderately good at arithmetic to figure out when exactly it occurs. And no, my turn is not on today.

I just can't believe that CYC has finally overtaken cricinfo. Now I feel good.
10th-May-2009 01:22 am - What v/s how
These days, I find myself increasingly thinking like when I am dream. Multiple unrelated elements in this world seem to randomly come together in a single stream of thought. More on this later.

One set of emotions that I've recently seen a lot of people battling with (myself included) is the one of regret, remorse, futility etc. etc. These are things that makes a people believe they are going through a rough patch in life, nothing is working out and so on. Trouble starts when you are not able to break out of this state in reasonable time. As Buddha said, desire is the root cause of all sorrows. Normal people cannot renounce worldly desires and yet need a way to remain generally happy.

I tried breaking down this desire thing into two parts to narrow down the sources of grief. Usually, we start out with the idea of what we want. At some point, we also envision how it will happen. Over time, we tend to forget what is it that we originally wanted and instead get hung up how we want it. And when things don't happen the way (how) we wanted it, all sorts of disappointments starts creeping in. The quicker we can recollect what is it that we wanted and start working on a new way of making it happen, the better it is. If I were a Robin Sharma, I think could have turned this into some sort of a 200 page that helps people with moving on.

And now going back why I said I see random things coming together. A few months earlier, I read a book titled built to last. It talks of companies that have lived over say 70 years and been increasingly successful over that period managed to achieve it. The book says people need to have a very clear idea of what is it that they want to do which should not include elements of how to do it. Once that is in place, it is also important to have a very clear idea of how to do it. The thing paramount importance is that the what is indispensable but the how is not only dispensable but over time will also have to be completely redone.

The relation between what the book had to say on companies and what I had to say on emotions struck me when I was just about to get started with writing this. And the first half was something that I conjured up in just a few minutes after reading a random blog post.
26th-Apr-2009 11:25 pm - Play boi!
I seem to be going to one too many plays of late. In the past 8 days, I've been to 4 shows. And the number for the past 4 weeks stands at 6 shows. Part of it can be attributed to the proximity of Ranga Shankara to my home but then again, it has always been where it is and I've always been where I was. And one of these shows was more of a presentation by students of an acting class held elsewhere.

Of notable interest was Harami Theatre's renowed Butter and mashed bananas. But the troupe that really blew me away was perch. Both their plays "Sangati Arinya" and "Moonshine and Skytoffee" were phenomenal. Never have I seen such effective use of lighting and such wonderful expressions of the performers. The usage of props as surrogates for the real objects was also effective. I'm really glad that I managed to pull out time to see both these performances.

At this point, I'd strongly recommend the following troupes: Evam, Harami, Kriyative & Perch. Random useless factoid: two of the above are from Bangalore and two from Chennai.
23rd-Apr-2009 11:25 am - I'm a VIP
Let home at 10:35
Reached polloing station to see that my room is completely empty. I mean, not a single voter
Reached office by 11:05
Today's quota of walking is done
20th-Apr-2009 11:54 pm - Too crowded a constituency
It so happens, I now get to vote for Bangalore South. Last time around, it was Kanakapura but thanks to the new delimitation exercise, I get to be part of a more urban consituency. This time around, it is way too crowded.

First off, we have Ananth Kumar who in the past has set records of winning by the largest margin from this very constituency. Then we have Krishna Byre Gowda who seems to be popular himself and also a party that seems to be popular in this part of the world. Then we have the unequivocal Vatal Nagaraj trying to make a break in central politics. And of course, there is a the man whom many a party tried to voo but failed, Capt. Gopinath, who in the end chose to ride it out by himself.

These are all people who would have won in their own right but somehow everyone seemed to have landed in the same place. And the best part is I get to distort these numbers.

If you are are interested in finding more information about your consituency, try this site: jeetegakaun.in
20th-Apr-2009 12:15 am - The world is not enough?
Of late, I've been doing a lot of things that are unnatural to me. One such thing is to ardently follow celebrity gossip. The gossip in particular that has grabbed my attention is that of Deepika Padukone supposedly freaking out about Kartina hanging around with Ranbir Kapoor. This makes me believe the world is a depressing place not just because celebrity gossip is a thriving industry but also because you can be Deepika and still you worry about being dumped when there is world out there that would give a proverbial limb to not dump her. Of course, the saddest thing here is that I've actually started reading BT.
12th-Apr-2009 11:00 pm - Catcher in the rye
This weekend, I finally managed to read the much talked about book Catcher in the rye. I am still not sure what the title means, I did not understand the reference to some song in the book.

What I do know is that the book makes for a good read. I could have made some phony statement like it is a refreshingly different style but for the minor detail that the book was written before my mother was born. The fact remains that it is a refreshing book for me since I haven't come across something like this before.

I had little or no idea of this book expect that I had heard of it being mentioned in many a discussion and in Billy Joel's song "We didn't start the fire". I seem to be one of the last people to have read. When I started talking about it to anyone and everyone I knew, the reaction seems to be that if you are a normal person, you would find the book weird and you need to have some issues (psychological kind) to actually like. That doesn't stop me from saying I sort of liked the book.

First off, I like the continuity of the thought process. Usually, it is th plot that has continuity in a book. People don't look at their life like a plot. There are so many unrelated things happening in your life and you tend to think about a lot of those things in a short span of time. It never makes for a focused plot but that is how life is. Secondly, it makes being sort of depressed appear normal. The general contempt towards a lot of things in life seems to facilitate this depression. That sort of a contempt is something that I can relate to.

And just for fun, I'll put a line that someone said after I expressed my liking for the book:
dude, if you didn't know, catcher in the rye was kinda influential in john lennon getting killed by his assassin who was overcome by depression after reading this book!
7th-Apr-2009 10:21 pm - The side effects of gymming
It has been almost 2 months since I first paid a visit to the gym. When I joined the gym, I had relatively uninteresting goals like wanting to live past the age of 35. I practically had no interests in the vanity department. However, now I've become increasing uncomfortable every time I see the tractor tire around my waist especially when I know I still weigh a couple of kiloes less than my ideal weight. While I might be otherwise getting fitter, this worry might compensate for it when to comes to life expectancy.
5th-Apr-2009 10:28 pm - Why geography classes matter
Anyone who took geogrpahy lessons in high school knows that in countires like Malasyia, especially at this time of the years, it pours in the evenings. I guess F1 organizers were not privilege to such education.
28th-Mar-2009 11:03 pm - On days like "Earth Day"
I dislike special days in general and earth day is no exception. My usual reason for finding them distasteful is that they are so pretentious; pretend like you care about whatever (earth, pandas, your mother or your country) for a few hours on one day and then go back to doing disservice to these things. This year around, I've found myself a victim of coincidences where I'd end up doing things that makes me look like someone who is actually practicing these days. For example, through the course of this week, I came across two things regarding unwanted wastage of resource which I decided to write about over the weekend and it so happens it Earth day had to come around this weekend. There have been other such incidents this year but I'm not going to go public with those.

Let us start off with what I think is an exceptionally stupid practice in a country like India. When engaging in a serious business meet, people feel the need to drape themselves in English business formal attire. Think of a place like Delhi in summers and the implications of wearing a suit or a blazer. You need to make the air conditioner work overtime to ensure that those people don't die (and the dying here is literal; not figurative). An otherwise socially responsible Infosys also insists on ridiculous dress codes for everyone which also requires more AC. There is a certain reason why people in hot and humid parts of India used to roam around topless (and that includes womenfolk). That would severely reduce the amount of energy spent towards cooling. It is an entirely different matter that if we took our past too seriously (the topless women part of it); we'd end up with a very different "warming" problem. With a little bit of discretion, we can strike a balance that would make things just about right.

Another fine example is the art of coffee drinking, especially the way it is done in the U.S. Given a calorie and fat conscious society like theirs, it would be immoral to use anything but 0% fat milk. As we all know, milk in its natural form is never fat free (unless you have never seen milk outside of what your Indian milkman delivers). It takes effort and consequently energy to make it fat free. Then it takes all the more energy to make a hue and cry over why you should consume fat free milk. Now that we have the leftover fat, we also need to do something with it. So people make cream out of it and then put in a lot more energy to sell that cream. And why you order your latté (or whatever else you drink), the milk that goes into it is fat free and then you ask for whipped cream on it! And somehow it is considered more sophisticated to drink coffee this way and just drink it the old fashioned way.

So there you have it ladies and their gentlemen: two examples of how socially progressive people demonstrate their highly evolved mental faculty when it comes to saving their planet. Until next Valentine's day (or whatever else is coming), keep yourself disillusioned that you love a lot of things.
23rd-Mar-2009 08:20 pm - Come full circle
Yesterday was a very different Sunday. Amongst other things, it was about time for my half yearly bike outing ritual. A certain friend of mine from college called me up in the evening and said let's go out. He happens to stay very close to my place. In fact, quite a lot of time we've travelled together to college, done our projects to together, spent years at each other's place; you get the idea.

So on a lazy Sunday evening, I slowly head out to get my bike in order then to his place. The first thing I tell him that it has been over 6 months since I rode a bike and maybe he should. He replies back saying it has been over a year since he rode one. Then I say the last time I probably had pillion rider on my bike was back in our college days and it was probably him.

We have little or no idea of where we are headed to. So while I was lazily cruising on a lazy Sunday evening, he starts checking out for movie schedule on his phone. This is probably one of those places where things have for we were not privileged to have cellphones back then. The last time when we decided to go hang out post college was couple of years ago in NYC but that does not count. It was 5:40pm and we figured out that the multiplex with the maximum number of movies starting in the next two hours was INOX on Magrath road (hello multiplexes!). For some unknown reason we managed to get there by 6:10 and the only movie for which tickets were available was Straight which was scheduled to start at 6:20. And go to see Straight we did! I wonder what else could be more appropriate for two guys in their late twenties to go watch in this city.

Post movie, we were idling around Brigade Road. You need to be of a certain generation to understand how old fashioned it is to actually do that. Anyways, we headed back home after grabbing some McFood (that would have been gourmet meal back in the days of college). You know you are getting old when there are more than a handful of your classmates are now proud (or otherwise) fathers and most of them are at least engaged. Then you realize while others have moved on, you haven't even reached the It is complicated stage :-).

That's when you conclude you can go around the world, afford a few luxuries, life off a few years and some things still haven't changed. You are still roughly doing what you were doing many years ago.
22nd-Mar-2009 02:23 pm - First success with DP!
After almost a decade since I first ran into the concept of dymanic programming, I think I'm finally getting a hang of it. Between seeing the OCW video, reading up Cormen and some article published on topcoder; I see a ray of hope.

Today I managed to pick a problem and managed to solve it. It took me a good 2 hours and 3 failed attempts (all around border cases) before I got it working. The experience was tiring but the fact is that I managed to figure out the approach and get it working taking probably 8-10 times as long as it should take. But the point it, I got it working. It feels like unlocking a part of world that I previously did not have access to.
18th-Mar-2009 10:35 pm - The most popular status message ever
First off, I'm too old fashioned to use facebook status messages; let alone twitter. Sometimes I do end up using status messages on IM. A couple of days ago, I was watching some programme on the History Channel regarding some World War I pilot. I liked what he said upon receiving the congressional medal of honor and turned it into a status message today. Since morning, I've been flooded with messages saying it is some seriously deep stuff. I'll let you folks judge it:

Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared. Edward Vernon Rickenbacker
15th-Mar-2009 06:12 pm - Double Whammy
There a few moments in time when you find TOI a useful newspaper. One such rare occasion was when it had an ad for Papa CJ's performance in Bangalore. I was certain that I'd go see it and even managed to talk vinit into it. The interesting thing was that the show had no tickets; I was a performance at a lounge bar. A few hours before the show, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to do some reasearch on the lounge. I've never been to Vaayu and was using something like the Hitchhiker's guide to find our more information. Turns out it has cover charges of Rs. 1000 on weekends. The cover charge is for a couple and from what I've read, that place is mostly about booze and not so much about food. At that point, I felt it was unreasonable and called it off. I don't understand why single non 8000-rupees-a-bottle-beer-drinkers can't get to see stand up comedy in this city. That is plain discrimination. Don't tell me I need to go back to New York if I need to see stand up comedy again!

And in a slightly unrelated note, as I getting back from dinner at 10pm, I ran into a posse of traffic policemen who seem to try and convince everyone on the road that they were drunk. It gets really irritating when someone tells you that you smell of alcohol when you just returned from a non-alcoholic place (that way you don't even have a chance to smell it from anyone in the car, let alone me). Anyways, the one thing that has served me well thus far is my ability to speak in Kannada which got me away from the scene without much effort.
No, I have not been living under a rock. We finally have 64 bit AWT/JWS and also native 64 bit flash plugin. The incredible part is that Sun took over 5 years to make their plugin happen. As far as Adobe is concerned, they had issues with linux itself for a long, let alone 64 bit versions. And yes, opera has also been available on 64 bit linux for a while now. This means that the only reason why I now need a 32 bit stack is to run skype. The world is now a much better place.
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