So little time… so little to do

December 4, 2010

The gadget lust

Filed under: arbit,geeky — Priyam @ 3:37 am

Oh boy!!!… has it been a while since my last post. I think I have been a little busy with a lot on my plate most of that time. But seriously, is that even possible. If anyone told me that, I would not believe it. So I take that to be the case even for me. As it seems, it should get crazier from now on. But that is on the professional front. I digress. Let’s come back to the topic of this post.

Lately, I have been following a few gadget blogs which allow me to keep abreast of many of the cutting-edge electronic devices being leashed onto the world. Understanding the technical aspects, to some level, of many of them, I wonder how many of them even make a quick buck. I guess that is where marketing steps in. Being of the technical mind I can personally shove aside the longing lust that many feel for a shining well-marketed gadget. But when I lust for something, it has to have that technical as well as aesthetic appeal. Introducing the attractively addictive Android-based Adam tablet, a brainchild of a start-up called Notion Ink ( site), hailing from a special corner of the world – my motherland – India.

I have researched many products before buying them, seldom repenting the electronic purchases. But when I say I lust for this device, it should mean a lot. I have been following the exploits of this small company for many months now, with an ever increasing appetite. And now, it is very close to delivering the promised device. Too bad that that I have only been following it from the sidelines, being a mute spectator without active cheering (pre-orders limited to people who have commented on their blog posts at http://notionink.wordpress.com). On a positive note, Rohan (the CEO) is now to keep me (us) updated twice a week. Irrespective of the feeling of being left out of a Christmas self-gift, I feel actively updated about the whole building process, especially since it is a software-hardware start-up out of India. I hope and wish for the best for this device. And for me to get my hands on it.

A special request to the team at Bangalore – make it happen… fast… please. I now understand what my wife feels looking at an awesome outfit. Nah, still can’t fathom that. 🙂

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July 22, 2009

The Last Supper

Filed under: sentimental — Priyam @ 11:48 pm

Seems like only the other day. A bright sunny day coming to its end, signalled by the customary splashing of crimson over the sky. My first day at Santa Cruz and we were headed for a small diner near my first and only home in the small sleepy town. That was when we had met – two of us, just landed, new to the place, being accompanied by a senior each. There was so much to look forward to, so much to take in of the people, place – of people who would be like family for the coming years, people who would step up to somewhat fill in the void created by old friends to the best of their possibilities. Three years can zoom by so fast! A different diner, some different people in totally different stages of life, and a totally different reason. Of course, the natural adult way to handle the situation was to almost deny the cause of this haphazardly planned cozy get-together. Handsome helpings of leg pulling and friendly camaraderie easily made five of us the most noisy crowd in that place. True to our nature, we celebrated the journey over the years, one that came to an abrupt halt for one of us. As I part ways with yet another close friend, the heart grows heavy, the mind races back to all those occasions when similar situations presented themselves at different times of my life. Sometimes I would be the one leaving, moving on as they say. But that is not easily done for me.

Seems like all I can do is wish him the very best for his future endeavours, and hope that our paths cross once again. As he would probably put it – “An Indian”  has left the US. As for me, I just hope he decides to return for another stint.

July 17, 2009

Back on the block

Filed under: arbit,sentimental — Priyam @ 11:42 am

Either I am not inspired enough, or my inspirations don’t end up making their way to this blog. You can thank Facebook and the likes for that, I guess. With that finger pointing, I dissassociate myself from the frequent irregularities of my blogging. What usually gets me back on this block is a post or a blog of a friend or acquaintance that reminds me that I might have something to share. And usually, by the time I start typing in words, the whole subject of the post becomes lost. Lost, either in the rather large number of items that I would like to get off my chest, or the lack thereof. This is usually followed by reading the few sentences that I have written back to myself, deciding it’s no good, and then a select all and a firm punch of the delete key. Today, I decided to skip the last step.

My parents just celebrated their stepping into their 31st year together. I kept reminding myself of the date to take the time to wish them on the feat. Needless to say, come the day, I totally forgot about it and remembered while on a general phone call with my Mom, unfortunately only after a generous serving of hints from her. Shame shame. Strike two. Last time it was her brithday.

Usually on such occasions, I gift them an enjoyable dinner at my (financial) expense. This year, they decided to take the whole extended family along. I can well imagine the cacophony of voices of varying age groups. As they say : Having multiple generations at the table together – Priceless. In my quest to pursue who-knows-what, I find myself constantly missing such get-togethers, important ones and otherwise. I end up questioning the wisdom of staying away from friends and family for a better life. Better? Says who? On my part, I would gladly endure the static herd of vehicular traffic, or the lack thereof on a bandh day, to be able to enjoy the comfort of the joint family. But here I am, gathering a collection of iPhones and Blackberries and large screen TVs, caught up in the world of material comforts, perhaps trying to fill that void that some say is the American dream. Why is it lost on people that the phone we are talking on is worthless compared to the person on the other end, the TV unimportant compared to the people around it. Perhaps enjoying the comfort of both is the best of both worlds, but given a choice between the two – I choose to be a people person.

November 7, 2008

Losing my religion

Filed under: sentimental,sports — Priyam @ 12:21 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I have not been the most ardent of followers of Indian cricket of late. And that has really set me apart from most of the gang that I hang out with. Come on, cricket is the national religion and like in the real world I was an atheist with my love and following of football – wait, that’s soccer now ! Having said that, nobody can take away those memories and endless hours glued in front of the TV when Sachin took the best bowlers to the washers, those frustrating times when the TV would be turned off whenever he got out, wishing for another dependable batsman. Prayers were answered and a generation of Golden boys rose to the occassion with names like Ganguly, Dravid, Kumble and Laxman. The skip down the crease for a artistic loft, the cover drive blessed by the Gods, the almost impenetrable defence of the wall, the yorkers of fire from spinning fingers and of course the flick of the wrist second only to perhaps Azharuddin. Heroes and villains, they have been in Indian cricket. Love them or hate them, but one can never forget them. We owe our childhood to them, our entire evenings playing street cricket trying to emulate their feats in our own little ways. Sadly, this golden generation of cricket is going to be no more. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get a glimpse of dada on his last artistic creations at the crease. Somehow, I now relate to the feeling of loss when the golden boys of Portuguese football (Figo et al.) hung their boots in quick succession.

A very potent article on this can be found at http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/magazine/content/current/story/376791.html . Pasting it below :

Losing my religion

The change of guard in Indian cricket has pulled the rug out from under the feet of a generation of cricket watchers

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan (November 7, 2008)

The events of the last few weeks are freaking me out. Anil Kumble has gone, Sourav Ganguly will go, and the other three may not be far behind. I assume there is a large group of cricket fans in their mid-to-late 20s, like me, who’re grappling with the implications. This transition is messing with our minds.

Let me explain. For many of us cricket began in November 1989. Pictures of what went before are too hazy. I remember Allan Border lifting the World Cup but don’t recall what I was doing then. So I can’t connect Australia’s World Cup win to my own life.

Sachin Tendulkar spoilt us. He commanded that we sit in front of the television sets. He ensured we got late with homework, he took care of our lunch-break discussions. He was not all that much older than us, and some of us naïve schoolboys thought we would achieve similar feats when we were 16. We got to 16 and continued to struggle with homework.

Then came Kumble and the two undertook a teenager-pampering mission not seen in India before. Tendlya walked on water, Jumbo parted seas. Our mothers were happy that we had nice heroes – down-to-earth prodigy and studious, brilliant bespectacled engineer. They were honest, industrious sportsmen, embodying the middle class.

When we thought we had seen everything, they reversed roles – Tendlya bowled a nerve-wracking last over in a semi-final, Jumbo played a match-winning hand with the bat. We were such spoilt brats that we pined for openers and fast bowlers. We cursed the side for not winning abroad. Such greed.

Economists would probably have predicted the bursting of the bubble. We had a deluge instead. One fine day at Lord’s we got a glimpse of two new saviours: Delicate Timing and Immaculate Technique. Suddenly my group of eight friends was split into two camps. You were either with Ganguly or Dravid. In that period we even took Kumble and Tendulkar for granted. It was adolescent indulgence taken to the extreme.

When we played cricket on the streets, we had a number of choices. Left-handers were thrilled, defensive batsmen were happy, extravagant stroke-makers were delighted, the short boys didn’t need to feel left out anymore, spectacles became cool, and freaky bowling actions were no more laughed at.

In such a state of bliss did we live our lives. We flunked important exams, shed tears over girls, crashed bikes, had drunken parties, choked on our first cigarettes, and felt utterly confused about our futures. But every time we felt low, we had an escape route. One glimpse of Dada stepping out of the crease, or Jam leaving a sharp bouncer alone, or Kumble firing in a yorker, was an uplifting experience. So what if India lost? Could any of those Pakistani batsmen even dream of batting like Sachin or VVS

I remember Ganguly and Dravid soaring in Taunton, mainly because it was the day I got my board-exam results. And boy, did that provide some much-needed relief. I remember Tendulkar’s blitz against Australia in Bombay because my dad, who thought cricket was a waste of time, sat through every ball. So connected were these cricketers to my growing up.

Now, after close to 20 years, my generation needs to brace itself for this exodus. Some of my friends, crazy as this sounds, have been talking of needing to revaluate their own careers. Others are realising they need to recalibrate their childhood definitions of cricket. “Part of me just died,” said a college friend who was the kind of extreme cricket buff who memorised scorecards. “No Dada, no Jumbo. I’m positive I’ll stop watching after Sachin and Rahul retire.”

These players were not only outstanding cricketers but also great statesmen. However hard they competed, they were always exceptional role models. Now we dread the next wave of brashness and impetuosity. Harbhajan Singh and Sreesanth are talented cricketers, but there’s no way anyone would want a young kid to emulate either. The younger crop seems worse – a visit to some of their Orkut and Facebook pages tells you enough – and things may only get cruder in a cricket world when you can make a million dollars in a little over three hours.

“Our childhood is ending,” said a friend from school, and in some way he was probably spot on. Tendulkar’s retirement may mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but for a generation of 25- to 30-year-olds it will mark the end of the first part of their lives. Switching on the television the day after will be a serious challenge

July 31, 2008

Mr. Hot-head ?

Filed under: arbit — Priyam @ 1:30 am

Ok, I am talking about myself in this one. For those who know me, know perhaps a particular part of me depending on which time interval they have interacted with me. For those who have known me for a longer period of time will perhaps shed more light on my character that I think I will be able to describe a bit here.

In school, I was always a hot headed guy. I was not the one to step down from an argument and sometimes have even resorted to let my hand do the talking for me. Not being the strongest guy in the block, this meant it did not always end in my best interests. But you would think that would teach me a lesson or two – No. Being in school meant mostly these things we easily forgotten and mostly got back to being buddies in a few hours, at max days.

However, a particular event when I got involved in something that was much over my head made me take a backseat look at my hot-headedness. I realized that not every fight was worth fighting and sometimes not caring enough for the topic or the person was the easiest way to distance myself from the invitations of an argument begging to happen. While this does not mean that I stopped getting worked up. It just implies that I stopped reacting to the causes. Consequently, I have stopped taking matters into my own hands (well mostly) and though arguing has not been totally washed away from character, I just don’t let it make me angry. Keeping my cool and reminding myself that I am arguing for argument’s sake and not for something that matters has allowed me to remain composed on most occassions.

However, this seems to not work when I am in debatable conversation with people that I am very close to. What choices does that leave me ? The only ways of avoiding such unpleasantries are distancing myself from those close to me or disassociating myself from the conversations ? While the former is something that I don’t want to do, putting the latter into effect is easier said than done. Specially when the matters being discussed concern me. Anger management. But how ? Why can I not be the happy-go-lucky character for all ? Maybe I shouldn’t take myself too seriously. After all this is life, and nobody ever came out of it alive 😛

July 26, 2008

Goodbye Randy Pausch

Filed under: sentimental — Priyam @ 1:32 am

July 25th, 2008 – Prof. Randy Pausch left for his heavenly abode to meet “the grim reaper” after what he would probably term as a happy life of 47 years. Prof. Pausch was a professor in Computer Graphics at CMU and he was the introducer of the now trendy concept of SIGGRAPH where a teaser of a result precedes even the first letters of the body. But perhaps he is better known as the person whose motivational speech (The Last Lecture series of CMU) about achieving childhood dreams enthralled people across the globe, people like me who have not even met him. My thoughts and condolences go out to his family. He is survived by his wife and three children.

For someone who was well recieved and loved by those around him, Randy’s health was obviously a matter of great concern for many and perhaps for that he maintained a detailed journal of regular occurrences in his life. Reading about his roller-coaster ride through the last couple of years, I cannot but really salute his enthusiasm, passion and love for life and family. Even though I have never met him or his family I totally understand their loss and how much he will be missed. By friends and colleagues as well. Perhaps I can relate to his experiences even more because of happening inside the walls of my own extended family. My thoughts go out to being a mute witness for roughly 7-8 years to a courageous lady battling renal failures. Regular dialysis, days of good and bad health – but in all a happy life, marred only by the sorrow of not being around to see my cousin graduate from a boy nearing the end of his high school to a man, now working in a multi-national corporation. While I was much too younger to understand regular medical updates or even be part of discussion on the health issues at that time, Randy’s log somehow brought them all rushing back from the semi-conscious parts of my brain. Time flies, memories remain statically etched into my mind. It seems only a few weeks ago that we had been witness to the Leonid shooting stars from the rooftops on the cold winter night.

Anyway, I guess both of these bravehearts would not want us to grieve over their death, but celebrate their lives. They perhaps serve as reminders of how important people who love us are to us. In the end, that’s all there is to life : Love and be loved. Celebrate life. Rest in peace.

Words to live by : It’s not the years in your life, but the life in your years that count. “Find your passion and pursue it. It cannot be found in things, or money. The more things and money that you have, the more you will look around using that as the metric and there will always be someone with more.”

July 21, 2008

quad pro duo

Filed under: geeky — Priyam @ 1:18 am
Tags: , , ,

If you are wondering what the title means, it is an intended pun from the phrase “quid pro quo”. I use it here to express my indecision over whether to go in for the intel core 2 quad or duo processors. On face value it should be a clear choice favoring the “quad” processor, but then you must read on to understand my concerns. Let’s first take a step back to the time when the proverbial pandora’s (here Intel’s) box was opened.

A few days back my girlfriend won an elephant in the form of a brand new Intel D975XBX rev 306 (nicknamed Bad Axe) motherboard in a lucky draw. That watered the seeds of a desktop that I have been yearning secretly for a while. I do have enough intensive machines at my disposal to which I login remotely to get my work done. However, as networks and physically inaccessible machines go, there is always that crunch time when they refuse to reciprocate your urgency. Hence the need for a physically accessible machine outside my lab cubicle. Not necessary, perhaps needed, certainly appreciated.

Now coming back to the motherboard. Now officially Intel claims that the board will support the Core 2 Duo (C2D) line of processors including the (quad core) Extreme editions (which at the time of writing fetches them a cool $1k !!) Compared to that the Core 2 Quad processors (Q6600 & Q6700) are perhaps a more sanely $200 approx. This should make the choice even easier except for the fact that officially the quads are unsupported by the Bad Axe (the BX2 version does). However, users, albeit few, have reportedly got it working with the latest BIOS updates. So what’s stopping me ? Well considering that I fix the cost at around the $200 mark for the processor, let’s look at the specs a bit :

The C2D processors that I can afford runs at a clock speed of around 3GHz whereas the Quads at that price work at 2.4GHz approx. Sure I can overclock and all that, but then again I would like to get a comparison without all the dirty business. Still this does not tilt the scales to the C2D considering that I get a quad processor in the Q6600. However, it becomes a bit of a stretch to actually term it so. It seems that all that the Q6600 [Q6700] is is a twin C2D E6600 [E6700]. The two C2D cores do communicate but over the bus which might result in decreased performance. Further they do not share the 2x4MB L2 caches, which might result in information duplication. In that sense the 6MB L2 of the C2D does not seem to be that bad after all.

The punchline however comes when I tell you that I do very limited, if at all, multithreaded programming. However, it would be nice to be able to run my processor intensive codes parallely with different parameters. Now here is a question for you. Walking in my shoes, what processor would you go for ?

July 3, 2008

Patriotism in question

Filed under: arbit — Priyam @ 12:43 am
Tags: , , ,

It is said that patriotism is the love for one’s country. I will argue more towards love for one’s countrymen, one’s culture and heritage. And pride, yes ! The latter is very important. You have to be proud to be Indian. But lately, I have been less proud of the happenings in the country. With election approaching, it seems like the country is being held at ransom by Ram, Shyam and whosoever can be an Indianised version of Harry. I have known people who have left India in search of greener pastures (read dollars and affluence); I have known people who have left India in search of better opportunities; I have known people who have left India in search of knowledge. In each of these classes many vow to return, many vow not to. I do not doubt the patriotism in either camp. However, it seems that such a question does arise in my mind about those who are entrusted with the reigns of the nation. Let me cite few reasons for my doubt :

  1. Reservations in higher education : I admit that reservation has its positives and negatives. But reserving seats in portals of higher learning when options for even the general public is limited. The supreme court has made its verdict, but the ruling coalition seems to be of the opinion that this will not have significant impact on its vote bank. Hence, play a more populistic politics. What stuns me perhaps more is the silence of the opposition. It’s a known fact that opposing such a movement is not going to go down well with the minorities. Who cares if the country’s bastions of higher learning and pride are raped.
  2. Reservations for faculty positions : This is just mindless. Take into account that the minimum requirement for such a position is a PhD. So even after a PhD one would need the help of a crutch to further ones career. Does that not bring into question the quality of the education itself ? It becomes laughable when you consider the fact that the IITs find it difficult to fill in the required faculty positions even from candidates of “forward classes” since they are not ready to cut down on quality. The reservation however comes with a clause. In case the reserved seats remain unfilled for a whole year, they are dereserved. By which time the ruling parties can claim their victory in the election and the whole issue is forgotten. Who cares if the IITs have to make do with fewer (or even worse, lesser qualified) faculty ?
  3. Sections of the society are now fighting to be qualified as backward classes. Way to go. Does this seem like reservation taking the country forward ?
  4. The creamy layer is rightfully omitted from such favours. This I totally support and believe that economically driven reservations are needed to level the playing fields considering the fact that education provided in governments schools are rarely enough for most to make it to one of these IITs and the extra tuitions are by no means cheap. However, it blows my mind when the income cap is proposed to be increased to become 4.5 lakhs per annum. (Not to mention that some states from down south thought this should be 10-25 lakhs !!). I still remember that only a couple of years ago, the graduating class from IIT-Bombay itself had offers that hovered around the 2.5-3 lakh mark. 4.5L means that people with sufficient means can still take refuge of the soceital clutch while the really poor are still left to limp by. Good idea, bad execution.
  5. You think reservations are the only problems that I have ? Well, let’s now focus on other issues, but related to education. The center believes that more institutes like the IIT need to be opened to cater to the need of the nation. True, and this is not only of the applied sciences, I believe. Hence proper funds and efforts need to be channeled to deal with the setup of these educational centers. But the heads of our nation seem to be in a hurry. No prizes for guessing why ? The result – 6 new IITs created and made operational within months ! It would have been a plaudable effort but I somehow cannot come to overlook the real reason when I consider that some of these do not even have a campus yet. They will be run out of the various existing IITs. Not to mention that some of these themselves are undequiped to deal with the increased load that they will take on from this year. Creating opportunities is good, but it comes back to bite you when done in an unplanned haphazard way. It’s a sin when you have ulterior motives behind the goodwill !
  6. Ah ! Who can forget religion. Our country has been so successfully divided on this issue that this can just not be let go by our politican “brains”. Shrine board gets allotted land. Result – bandhs, curfew. Land allocation revoked. Result – ditto. And oh ! Have you heard ? The nuclear deal is apparently anti-islamic ( Read this).
  7. Coming to the India-US nuclear deal. It has come to such a serious issue that the government might crumble over it. The ruling party no doubt seeks to credit itself with the deal during its tenure. While the opposition and others not gaining enough momentum out of it are obviously opposed to the hurry. Again hurrying is bad. But somehow my trust has become so thin that I only see the fact that denying such a deal with be more of political gain than saving the country of a fiasco for these parties. Such a shame (if that is indeed the case).
  8. And last, but not the least, opposition parties acting in the true sense of the word. Crude oil prices have been rising alarmingly internationally and the government can only absorb so much of it. This results in inflation and growing food prices. However, India is not the only country affected by it. While this is a major political debate everywhere, I feel the opposition in India is going overboard by suggesting that the ruling parties have been unable to curb rise in prices. They have taken to the streets, forced bandhs and strikes on people. In the end, it is the people who end up paying more for the fuel, as well as not being able to earn the extra money to do so. Somehow this is not politics for the people. Certainly not of the people and least of all by the people. I obviously need not remind the readers that bandhs have already been outlawed by the Supreme court of India.

Even though I have been concentrating on the negative issues that have hogged the limelight recently, I must also point out that there are still achievements of my countrymen that make me proud to be an Indian. Sadly, these quarters of satisfaction are rarely provided by the “netas” of our country.

My patriotism is being tested. I revolt in the form of this blog. My voice (and likewise millions of my countrymens’) will obviously not be heard by the ones plotting their personal gains at the mantle of power. Thankfully our country seems to be doing well in spite of the government and the babus. Wonder how long that will last. Jai hind.

June 26, 2008

The story of stuff

Filed under: arbit — Priyam @ 11:46 pm
Tags: , ,

The next time you think that you need that new model simply because that is “in”, think about how you are being made a fool of and in a way contributing to the destruction of our planet. This I feel is much more important than your contribution to the growth of the economy through consumerism. Spare 20 minutes for enlightenment 🙂 . Who knows, the next time your better half nags you about the new shoe style, you might just be able to take a leaf out of this to explain to her the difference between need and want… the difference between life and something like it (in some other part of the planet). Check this out :

http://www.storyofstuff.com/

June 12, 2008

Santa Cruz on fire

Filed under: arbit — Priyam @ 2:36 pm
Tags: , ,

Smoke on a setting sun near UCSC

Unfortunately I don’t mean it in a rhetorical sense. But till now it has just been in and around Santa Cruz county and not in the small sleepy student town. The campus notices till now reveal little danger to the university campus, which means the town itself could be still safe. While riding back from school yesterday, one could easily see the mushrooming smoke that tried to camaflouge itself as a dim cloud. If one did not know better, one would easily assume the fire to be on campus. I hope this time the fire is not as destructive as the the summit fire (again near Santa Cruz) about a fortnight back. My thoughts go out to the people who are tensed about the situation worried about their tough earned property (which by the look of it can be ranging anywhere between half and one million dollars, if not more).

Somehow, nature seems to have a say and this dry patch of summer in just its infancy seems to be crying out loud. I hope this is not just a prelude to more of the red flower in the forests that surround the sleepy shores.

Updated news of the fire (with maps) can be found on the Santa Cruz Sentinel website.

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