Weird offers – All those things you wished were built-in to your laptop.

Lately there’s been a craze for laptops: There was ELCOT’s 50-60% discounts, some price cuts on some older Lenovos, this morning I wake up to receive the perfect laptop offer in the news. It’s not in the specifications, it’s not the look, it’s the accessories. Accessories, accessories, accessories. Observe:

Laptop Offer - Front Cover

Okay, not too great, if you’d been around a couple of weeks ago you could have had a nice Thinkpad for cheaper. Not exceptional or anything. It’s not clear whether they’re just dual core Pentiums or Core 2 Duos. It hardly matters though, what’s on the other side would make up for this even if they were old Compaq Armadas.

Laptop Offer - Back Thumb

See, I’m no great fan of bundled offers myself. Usually, they’re rip-offs. But tell me this, if you were given the chance to get an MP3 player, a colour printer, an HP + Mic and an antique clock, cordless iron, and dinner set wouldn’t you jump at the offer? I mean, come on, every up and coming executive who needs a laptop will require a cordless iron, antique clock and dinner set for all those long flights between cities. I can’t wait for the day these features are integrated with the laptop itself, mine has the clothes iron part done right already.

TNPCB Results

I was just walking by the TNPCB building many weeks ago, and I snapped this. Just found it among the crap that’s accumulated on my hard drive.

TNPCB - Thumb

On a barely related note, I was typing this out with one hand and I realised that it’s hard to type in all capitals without Caps Lock. Except I’ve replaced the Caps Lock function on my keyboard with a Compose key function. Ah, weird.

Why Gandhi is so cool

Non-violent, you say? Civil disobedience? Parley with the King Emperor? Nah, he’s cool because he fucking kicks ass. Here are some true stories about him:

I heard one time Gandhi walked into this club and beat up three guys with a pool cue for absolutely no reason. They say he sucker punched this one guy, and then scissor-kicked him right in the back of the neck. And then that guy could only eat out of a straw for the rest of his life. Is any of that true?

Gandhi was all about rabbit punches. Just when you thought a fight was over he’d punch someone in the back of the head and then dish out mule kicks. I’ll see if I can find a link.
Robert V.

No way was Gandhi going to take any shit from some idiot fat white man with a cigar in his mouth who drones about fighting in the hills. Parley with the King Emperor?! Parley? You have no clue what he meant when he said parley.

Gandhi didn’t win the Nobel Prize because (little known fact) he lead a band of guerrilla warriors into London and razed the city. He also threw a man out of a window for commenting on his appearance. True story. – Graham

Now, a man who fights must know when to fight, for the best battle is the one that is won without being fought. Gandhi knew this, and was no stranger to diplomacy, though he did acknowledge that it was a ‘limitation’ and a ‘weakness’.

Ghandhi’s autobiography talks a great deal about these types of things, and shows that he knew his limitations, weaknesses and failings. But he had a lot of good thing to say as well. Like the rest of us, he was human being. – Benton

Chuck Gandhi

All this and more, courtesy the commentators at the mental_floss blog.

Getting back home – Raja Hamsa

Kempegowda Bus Terminus - A blurry photo Being incredibly lazy, P, S and I didn’t book our train tickets back home. So, Thursday night we found ourselves at Kempegowda Bus Terminus with a confirmed ticket for an ‘Executive Class’ bus arriving at 10:21. We got to the terminus by travelling by auto, and man the place is wild. It’s like a giant bus dumpyard or something, they’re just everywhere and in every direction and in lots of colours and with route plates in all sorts of languages.

We managed to get to the appropriate platform much ahead of time and spent our time looking at the Volvo buses and wondering if they were worth the extra 150 bucks. They look pretty damn awesome. So how this Bus Terminus works is, each bus arrives and the conductor dude starts yelling the time that the bus was meant to arrive at and that’s how people know which bus is which. They’ll wait lots of time and call out for passengers that haven’t yet arrived. So while we waited, we saw 10:10, 10:15 go by and alarmingly, 10:30, 10:35 and 10:50. Naturally, every bus but ours had arrived on time and left. I blame Pipe. You can always blame Pipe. It’s usually his fault and he’s very blameable. Actually, in this case, he was the one who went and got the tickets so I get to blame him however much I like.

The seats - thumbnail At around 11 our bus arrived and we boarded it and promptly made our seats lean back the most we could, reclining peaceably and drinking apple juice. The bus left half empty and so we asked the conductor if any more people would be coming, and after he said that 12 more would be waiting at another stop we grabbed the last row of seats. The good thing about this last row is that the seats are contiguous and so you can use them as a bed… or so we thought. Anyway, the thing is these buses have a button that you press to recline. The problem is that this button is placed between seats, so it’s rather uncomfortable unless you manage to miss those buttons. Just takes a little practice. I managed to sleep at 1:30 that night, not strange considering I had one of those reasonably decent espressos at Café Coffee Day. We reached CMBT at around 6 in the morning. Not bad, pretty quick. Enough time for me to get home, unpack, get ready for college and fall asleep instead. Pipe managed to get to college though. Typical. Though he did collapse that evening. That’ll teach the fellow. Simbly roaming here and there.

Some other pictures:

Sitting at the window - Master of the Blurry photo
Guy carring weapons at Kempegowda
Pipe reading Catcher in the Rye

Getting back home – The Auto Driver

We stayed over an extra day in Bangalore and walked about around where we were staying, checked out some chicks from Stella Maris, ate some cheap and good chicken biryani, had a couple of espressos and generally lazed around. Here’s a little fact for you: Bangalore has lots of traffic signs. Really. Lots.

Anyway, in the evening when we decided to leave for the station we caught an auto. Now this auto fellow wasn’t normal, and he was driving without a headlight. Naturally, we chose to travel by his auto. R’s mom had already told us that one particular road was blocked and so the autorickshaw-wallah was told, so he claimed the other route would be longer and he would have to charge us more, so we said fine. Then, he decides to take the shorter route after all, and has to turn right back when it turns out that the road was blocked after all. Meanwhile, Pipe strikes up a conversation in Hindi with the fellow, and since I can’t speak Hindi, I listen. The conversation goes something like this: (I’ve made lots of changes because otherwise you have to brink the rest of the conversation in and I don’t remember it all)

Pipe: Bhai, how come you don’t have headlight?
Driver: Forgot to pay the electricity bill.

Driver: I want to meet Goundamani, Vadivel, Senthil, they’re really funny. Them and… Jayalalitha.
Pipe: Ah, Jayalalitha, they say she has 400 pairs of shoes.
Driver: She uses them instead of clothes or what?
Pipe: They say she has lots of saris too.
Driver: She’s so big, I bet they weld more than one together for her.

Driver: Before you, I had to transport a couple and then suddenly halfway through she started crying really hard. I wanted to ask her why she was crying but then she’d probably cry even more.

Pipe: Why do all the buses here have only Kannada names on the boards?
Driver: In TN, all the buses are in Tamil, it’s just the same. […something about English…]
Pipe: […something else about English…]
Driver: There was this Nepali, when I took him to this place to which it would cost Rs. 49 my meter showed Rs. 53. He started complaining, he said, “You see, I see…”. What is this UCIC? Some new bank or something?
Driver: He said he was going to file FIR with the police, I told him, “What FIR? Here, police? Go back to Nepal and file it.”. He’s probably a cook or a servant or something anyway. Finally he gave me Rs. 50, so I said, “The five rupees is a tip.” Ha ha, I gave him a tip. Ha ha.

Crazy fellow, all that talk and he finally charged us Rs. 120 for the journey. Not too bad, I suppose. Ah well.

NLS’ Admit One Theatre Festival

Ranjitha’s family, Pipe, and Sayuja - ThumbnailI returned from Bangalore today after participating in Admit One at the Alliance française there. Our theatre group put up Picasso at the Lapin Agile, a rather funny comedy about Picasso and Einstein meeting in a bar in Paris a couple of years before each of them pulled off their respective masterpieces. It was rather fun doing the whole thing, though all of the times we practised it sucked. I mean, seriously, it was horrible when we were trying to do the whole thing back in MCC, just didn’t work. Then there was the other troubles with the girls’ hostel and their ridiculous objections to everything.

Anyway, in the end Ranjitha won Best Director and Rinila – Best Actress, yay! That’s pretty damn good, considering the rest of the outstation teams that performed. Strangely enough, we were one of only two one-act plays ; that was strange because the time allotted was only 45 minutes. The other one was a superb play by Kirodimal, super-real acting, superb original script, worth paying Rs. 200 to watch. It was about an Iraqi professor arrested for inciting students to riot, and being interrogated by a policeman at the station. It was very well done, every single action was perfect for the character, the lighting was perfect, the whole thing was just gripping.

Another play that was rather interesting was the LSR‘s adaptation of Woody Allen’s Death; they won the Best Play award finally, but I’m surprised none of the actors got an award because they were plain amazing and their accents were perfect! The script, naturally, was just hilarious.

I missed the Sri Lankan performance, I think, but I didn’t miss UET Lahore who put on a lovely show which was a nicely choreographed mime. Before the show they asked people to not only turn their phones on silent but also to not fiddle with them, and then they switched off all the lights half way through. Until that time, the two mime artists on stage, one with an orange painted face and the other with a green painted face, were running around trying to go one up on each other with some cleverly done mimes. After they decided to start fighting, the lights went off and after a minute or so of total darkness, the blacklight came on and the only things we could see clearly were the fluorescent paint on the artists’ faces and their fluorescent costumes. This is when things started to get fancy because in the blacklight the stage hands couldn’t be seen, so the whole thing started to look like some crazy martial arts movie with the two artists flying across the stage (literally!) and performing fancy triple kicks in the air, dodging fiery red bullets and fighting with burning swords. And there was teleportation and shit, man, it was so freaking crazy. It was pretty damn amazing. I mean, I’ve seen this trick being used before with stage hands dressed in the same colour as the background lifting and supporting the main actors, but not like this; I mean, you didn’t even need to suspend disbelief, the jumping and kicking looked perfect and we weren’t even sitting in the right position for it.

Afterwards, because we’d been too lazy to book our tickets for a bus or train, we stayed the night and half the next day at Ranjitha’s place, making a mess of the place in the process. Her mom must think I’m retarded or something :D

Lots of fun. Yeah. Unfortunately, I forgot about my camera until the last day.

[1] Hindu article talking about Admit One

Funny, I thought this was a safe neighbourhood

Well, apparently it wasn’t. Some chain-snatchers style guys grabbed her phone from her hand as she was walking on the road. They were on a motorbike and managed to get away. Typically, we don’t have the serial code for that phone so tracking it is impossible. I don’t know though, I thought Gandhinagar was a reasonably safe place, the occasional murder notwithstanding, so this is a bit disturbing.

However, this just reminded me of how a couple of days ago I was walking down the street and it was dark (there are few streetlights here) and there was this schoolkid walking behind me. Except I, being the paranoid[1] nutcase that I am, I did all the classic tricks to confront the fellow. Of course he turned out to be just a schoolkid, but better safe than sorry, eh?

What I don’t understand is why the mobile phone companies don’t simply triangulate the signal and locate the phone (It’s still on, one of my aunts was trying to reach my mom). Surely it’ll be remarkably trivial, I can see a whole industry around triangulation though, location-sensitive advertisements, faux-GPS,… Ah, if only I had a couple of millions.

[1] No really, paranoid like mad. I treat everyone as guilty until proved innocent, always place my phone in my front pocket, under my handkerchief and the papers I carry, do checks on my wallet, watch my luggage out of the corner of my eyes on long trains, see a robber in every man who doesn’t look well off.

Woo hoo! India has the 4th fastest supercomputer – EKA

Well, would you look at that! EKA is in the 4th place among the top 10 supercomputers today. Fascinating! Tata Sons must be using this fellow to add up all their earnings. Well actually, they claim they will use it for earthquake and tsunami modelling, but I’ve read elsewhere that they’ll be doing digital animation and rendering on it. All that power and all we’re going to get is Hanuman all over again?! DO NOT WANT! Also, all that money/energy spent on getting this cluster of 64-bit Xeon processors was apparently a bit too much for the Computational Research Laboratories team because their website seems to be from 1995.

I was just thinking about this the other day actually. One rack of IBM’s Blue Gene/L costs about Rs. 8 crores, and a 16 rack configuration can put out 70 teraflops. That was then, prices have fallen now. Anyway, this HP cluster cost them around 117 crores. I’d like to see what they’re going to do with all that power. They’ve called this Eka, so will there be a Dvi then?

Yes, life goes on, but I didn’t think anyone in India had a need for a supercomputer after good old Param fell off the rankings once other machines started processing at more than a teraflop. Ah good times, good times.

Oh and yes it runs Linux, and I did imagine a Beowulf cluster of those

UPDATE: I just read the BBC News article on EKA and according to them:

The system will be initially targeted at developing applications such as neural, molecular and crash simulations, and digital media animation and rendering.

“The supercomputer system will have a direct affect on the lives of Indians, espcially in areas such as earthquake and Tsunami modelling, modellings of the economy and potential for drug design,” said Mr S. Ramadorai, chairman of the Computational Research Laboratories.

Well, would you look at that? They’re going to be using it to play the stock market! :D

The Statement

The Statement - Title ScreenAnother movie about people who escaped trial for their actions on the sides of the Nazis, you say. Well…almost, but worth a watch anyway. This one is about Pierre Brossard, a French Nazi Collaborator charged with ordering the execution of 7 jews who escapes from a jail with the help of the people in charge then. The Church shelters and assists Brossard for the next few decades and then suddenly one day there’s a guy out to kill him. The movie follows Brossard as he calls on everyone he knows in the churches he trusts in the hope that they’ll shelter him. It isn’t long before the Church washes its hands off him and he’s left to fend for himself though. That doesn’t stop him from being very holy, and he prays and crosses himself all the time, and when he can find a priest he asks for absolution.

The guy has one hell of an instinct for people with guns, it’s uncanny the way he always seems to notice when there’s a hitman after him (which is all of the time). The investigators are a judge and a colonel, funny pair. The colonel is strangely calm for almost the whole play, it’s like he’s been injected with some calm drug and the judge is just the opposite. It’s a nice movie, worth a watch.