Presentation Software – Powerpoint, Impress, whatever

Presentation software is retarded. Deep down inside, each of those coders is a psychotic killer on the verge of flipping out and going on a massacre. To keep these unstable people in a sort of happy state, they are allowed to write software that will cause mayhem all across the globe. It’s no surprise that they get paid for it, after all, isn’t that what life is all about?
Impress - Not


OO:Writer is good, it does all I need and is generally predictable and doesn’t do weird stuff. But Impress, what a disaster. This is something that wouldn’t compare favourably to a broken gutter, there are options that don’t get enabled, rectangles that disappear only in slideshow view and if you create a new master slide and modify it, even by selecting the relevant portions, the first master gets modified and the second doesn’t. I’ll give the benefit of the doubt here, because the rounded rectangle thing atleast is something that arises from Ubuntu modifying stock OO, or so I’m told. I’ll go report the bugs after I’m finished typing this. Now this is just awful, stuff that works completely contrary to how it should work. To make that rounded rectangle you have to copy a rectangle from OO:Writer and paste it in OO:Impress because the rectangle in OO:Impress is ‘Shape’ not a ‘Rectangle’. Wow, thanks.


< See, I use free software all the time. So it's a big thing that I actually restart to Windows to use Powerpoint (I don't like Wine, doesn't integrate with the desktop so only useful for games). I thought, this is paid-for software, it better be good. But my god, it was anything but. See, Bikram sent me this presentation and I looked at it, and all the text had freaking shadow. Why?! Why is this default on that goddamn machine? Okay, that may be someone mucking about, but let's see how to fix this. Select text, Font Properties... Okay, shadow is unchecked. That's strange. Something to do with the Slide Master? Check there, sure enough all text has shadow. Okay Font Properties, remove all that shadow. Shadow is now gone. Return to slide, shadow is still there. What's going on? Go back to Master, no shadow, go to slide, shadow. That's weird. After more trouble, notice there's a separate shadow button for turning off shadows. Retardedness. Masters work well here. This is better software, but by no means good. I can't believe these people are so careless! I'll cut MS some slack because I'm using Office 2003, but Impress has no excuse, it’s the latest. Very well, no point complaining alone, so bug report time.

As for why? Needed to make presentation for college, and even the simplest things are so much trouble to make.

Bug report:
I sort of figured out that Master bug. It’s non-obvious, but it happens. I think the rounded one is already reported.

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

Numerical Methods

This was one of those annoying papers where, for the most part, you learn a bunch of formulae without a proof and when you’re given the proof it’s all funny. Boring, but easy since you don’t have to do much work. However, sometimes you just need all the formulae, you need a cheat sheet, because the exam is tomorrow. Unfortunately, I couldn’t manage that, so a lot searching, a little deriving, and some searching for old books allowed me to type them all up and print them up. Might as well save some other soul some trouble. Go to Mathworld for the proofs. You could also wander around the Springer Encyclopaedia of Mathematics or PlanetMath.

Most of the stuff is particular to the course we’re doing, so some things are assumed. For example, the Runge-Kutta method refers to the Fourth Order Runge-Kutta method and stuff like that. Also, parts may be technically inaccurate or may be plain unhelpful :) , but that’s because that part will just jog the right part of my mind. Sorry.

And here you go:
Numerical Methods, List of Formulae, B.Sc. Math, Semester V, Madras University [PDF]
Numerical Methods, List of Formulae, B.Sc. Math, Semester V, Madras University [ODT]

Palse Report!

Today, when we were at the Connemara Public Library, Pipe encountered a family from Jharkhand. They’d come to see the Museum, which is closed on Fridays. The following conversation ensued: (in Hindi, unless otherwise specified)

Dad: Why is the Museum closed?
Pipe: *shrugs, shows hands with palms out*
Dad: What is this? (pointing to pumpkin broken on the road inside the Museum campus for festival)
Pipe: That’s a pumpkin. In Tamil Nadu, they sometimes break pumpkins to celebrate festivals.
Dad: (obviously, very puzzled) [en anglais] Why are they wasting begetables? *shakes head*
Pipe: *shrugs*
*conversation in Hindi*
The family now wants a photograph in front of the Museum Theatre. Pipe is going to take the photograph.

Following conversation in English unless otherwise specified.
Kid: [in Hindi] Film over! Camera full!
Dad: How many photos?
Kid: Thutty-six!
Dad: (to Pipe, obviously trying hard to speak English) How many?
Pipe: Sometimes you can get 37.
Dad: (whacks kid on head) Palse Report! How many photo?
Pipe: There’s 35. (shows monitor showing 35)
Dad: (whacks kid on head) He alway give Palse Report!

Dad: Where are places to see in Madras?
Pipe: Uhh, beach?
Dad: Already seen. Next?
Pipe: Umm, Valluvar Kottam?
Dad: Flower pot, eh?

Palse is pronounced between Palse and Balse. Photo is pronounced nearly Bhoto. Nice bunch, that pumpkin question is good. Also, I hope they managed to get to see something in Madras. And no offence, but they’re crazy funny, you know?

Turtle walks

You know, it’s been a while since I’ve gone on a turtle walk and it’s going to be that time of year soon enough. It’s rather fun, really, walking down the beach in the middle of the night. Hell, it’s a nice idea even if you’re not an eco-nut, the experts handle the tough parts of unearthing the nests and all that but you can hang around and touch the eggs and photograph the turtles if you wish. With the new rules and all the patrolling, I don’t think there’ll be any drunken nuts on the beach anymore, so you don’t have to be scared of those. As a matter of fact, the bows of the catamarans are probably the most dangerous things on the beach (other than the glass in the sands, of course).

So join the walk, and maybe you’ll learn something. I had no clue about Olive Ridleys until I went on one of these walks a long time ago. Trust me, it’s fun.

PS: Today is Blog Action Day. Just remembered :)

Oasis at MJR Janaki – and hailstones!

MJR Janaki College is just on the other side of the bridge near Malar from here, so I just walked up this morning. Pipe and Danny landed up there by bike. Pipe won Shipwreck (1st), daamn good he was with Bipasha Basu and all and then Pipe and I went and won second on the quiz. We would have gone for more events but we didn’t know there were any. Foolishness.

Anyway, the interesting part. After a while there were hailstones! Thumbnail diameter rocks of ice raining down along with water. I’ve never seen hailstones in Madras before, it was pretty cool. Unfortunately, the rain didn’t last very long and when it had passed we ended up with hot and humid weather with a light drizzle. Let me tell you that this is like being steam-cooked. It was horrible. Anyway, I reached home by dodging puddles of water and staring at that old bridge. The old bridge they should make that a pedestrian bridge, just make it safe and stuff and keep the style. It looks really nice.

End latest update.

India, Twenty20 and my friends

Twenty20 World CupSo the Indian team won the Twenty20 World Cup. I missed most of the match because I’m not into cricket much. I did see the last few balls though, and it seems like it ended rather nicely. People got what they paid for and stuff, if they went to actually watch the match. To quote what I saw that day as I set the page on auto-reload:

19.3 overs – WICKET – Misbah-ul-Haq c Santh b J Sharma 43 – Pkn 152
The floodlights come on. Misbah tries an unorthodox Ashraful-style flick over fine leg – and is caught by our old friend Sree Santh at fine leg! INDIA HAVE WON BY FIVE RUNS – what a finish!

19.2 overs – Pkn 152-9
A low full-toss – and Misbah’s clubbed it over long-on for six! Six now needed off four balls.

19.1 overs – Pkn 146-9
A priceless dot ball as Misbah goes down on one knee but makes no contact. 12 needed off five balls.

Apparently, this victory has spawned a bunch of jokes, some of which are good, one of which I remember. Pipe told me this one:
– “Knock Knock”
– “Who’s there?”
– “Misbah.”
– “Misbah who?”
– “Misbah five runs.”
Ha ha ha, probably one of the best knock-knock jokes I’ve heard in a while.

Then there was Danny’s smart-ass remark on the train the day after the Twenty20 World Cup final. “Kalam should be happy. India are the World Champions in 2020.” Yeah, he’s a smart-ass.

Misbah five runs…[chuckle]

Rant – Over-religious people, government workers in India

Over-religious people, or people who are ostentatiously pious, are a royal pain. Unfortunately the large number of Indians can be safely labelled to be so. It’s a what-will-people-think pious, one is religious because one must be atleast as religious as the other family, a kind of pseudo-spiritual keeping up with the Joneses. Naturally I have no problem whatsoever when said people stick to their own houses/mansions/beach houses and do whatever they want there but why oh why must they walk all over the roads? Why must they make life so miserable for the rest of us?

This brings me to another big difference between these over-religious people and a-religious people. A-religious people don’t make life hard for religious people, we don’t play loud songs in temples/mosques/churches, we don’t sing and dance in the streets, we don’t light loud firecrackers, we don’t break melons in the street, we don’t get violent frequently, we don’t have ‘religious sentiments’ which are an arbitrarily defined term used to hold everyone hostage to said over-religious person.

This: Hindus upset over ban on holy dot at certain places of work. Listen, I want to go to work not wearing a shirt. It is my religious sentiment that I should be completely naked (I am a gaiaist, you see, and we worship the natural order) and you know about religious sentiments, don’t you? The sad part is, ‘religious sentiments’ only apply to mainstream religion. Minorities like us are hated and despised, but then, that’s what all religion is about, no? A chosen people, and a lesser unchosen people.

Now, one more thing. These are government workers, those diligent hardworking ants who ensure that the government is running perfectly efficiently and who make sure there is no flaw anywhere in the system. They don’t take bribes, they work their entire quota of the day, they don’t slack off during work hours and are renowned for being good at their job.* Now when something so trivial as this comes up, they’re all there, ready, energetic, shouting slogans, talking about religious sentiments. Now why do I call that trivial? One reason: Their preventing my nudity, the purest form of human existence, is not only morally indefensible it is also a violation of my religious sentiments in a much harsher way than a trivial dot. And yet, so many of these people will also be against me. Hypocrites.

I’m not done yet, no I’m not. They blocked a perfectly good road because of the Velankanni festival thing. They didn’t even do it well. Horrible planning, let me tell you. You don’t block a wide road, park all the buses on it and redirect traffic into tiny lanes. How did that strike them?! Must be all the faith in the words of elders.

That brings me to another thing: Remember when they told you, “Always respect your elders.”? Remember when they made it clear that anything someone old does must automatically be right? Remember the whole bullshit about the guru-sishya, do not question the guru because he knows all thing? Well, that’s crap. Respect is earned, it isn’t some function of age. You can have a smart young man, you can have a stupid old man. Now see, this probably arose from a misunderstanding of “Respect your elders.” It probably started out meaning that you should acknowledge that people older than you have had more experience at life than you and so you must factor that into account, which is okay. But it’s gotten bad. Very bad. Old people aren’t gods. In fact, chances are they’re senile.

That reminds me of a story someone in my class told me, it goes like this: (it’s in a blockquote, but it’s a paraphrase/translation of an old folk tale)

Once there was an old and wise priest and he lived in a house with his disciples. He had a little cat. The priest’s disciples learnt the mantras and chants from the priest. They learnt how to do the puja and stuff like that by copying what he did. Now the problem with the priest’s cat was it was frisky and the priest, knowing this, used to tie the cat up in a corner when he started his puja. One day, the priest died and it was time for the disciples to take his place. They imitated whatever he did in the hope of emulating him. They arranged the ingredients and fire the same way and chanted identically. Then one of them remembered that the priest always tied the cat in the corner. They didn’t know why, but since the priest did it, they copied it and tied the cat in the corner whenever they did their puja business. After a while the cat died, and they had no cat left to tie. Then they went out, bought a cat and tied it in the corner whenever they did their puja.

The story has much more impact when told by the original people in the original language (Tamil), but I think you get the idea. Nice story, personally I think it’s bloody brilliant and maybe I’ll give it it’s own post later :)

*If they’re Osipych, I’m Zapoikin, ha ha.

Spandan – JIPMER’s cultural fest

Right, so we left for JIPMER last Tuesday, on a crowded bus. Crowded buses are MCC’s preferred method of travel. JIPMER is in Pondicherry, for those who don’t know, and it’s a medical college which is to say, it’s pretty cool. Ever noticed that medical colleges are the only sensible colleges around here? Weird. So anyway, we got there on Tuesday near midnight just as it started to rain. Don’t get me wrong, it was hot as hell, but it was raining. It was like being in the Amazon rainforest.

The ice-cream stall guy recognised us from CMC Vellore’s Culturals and so we all crowded into his stall to remain dry. Bikram sent the first years off to see if the room was okay. I wonder why he did that. Lucky he did, though, because some guy had left the tap open and the rooms were flooded. By flooded I mean there was water everywhere and that meant there was no place to sleep. Everyone made hurried plans to solve this problem and finally decided to sweep the water off (that meant, make the juniors sweep the water off). I think my idea was better: Make a pontoon bridge of some people and I’d sleep on top of them. They lie face down in the water, of course.

The Story Mélange:

Anyway that night we went to sleep in partly wet surroundings but work up the next day ready to do our job. MCC’s job is usually to provide participation. We’re like those people at political rallies, you know, those people who come because there’s a free lunch. We did that part nearly to perfection. Then Pipe and I accidentally won 90 seconds. By accidentally, I mean purely accidentally. We even asked them to check the scores because it didn’t make sense at all. The music events also had some MCC places, naturally.

Anyway, that first day went by quickly and by night we stayed up doing nothing interesting whatsoever. The next morning we all got up all late and all and I can’t recall what happened at all. Can’t recall the night either, except that we got new rooms and that sitting on the terrace yelling at passersby gets old quickly and that sleeping on the terrace doesn’t work when it rains. Our rooms were in the Staff Quarters or as a not-quite-sober bong I know put it The Quarterstaff. “Dude, our rooms are in the quarterstaff !“. We had fun there.

I fell ill that night and spent the next two days sleeping, waking up to bug the CMC people (nice fellows) and forgetting to have breakfast until 6 in the evening then compensating by eating lots of bun-omelette (a bread omelette variation) and drinking lots of coffee and shooting down Crocin like it was E. The last night I went to sleep early because I was feeling sick (I fell ill in a bloody hospital!) and I was woken at around midnight by invading armies of fellow MCC people. Before I knew it everyone had crowded into one room and the aforementioned bong had started doing a crazy dance. It was surreal. Then the next morning we had to leave because the dance team that wasn’t selected for representing our college had come to Pondy, got drunk and got into a fight with the rest of us (not including the sleeping me). One of our juniors socked a JIPMER dude nicely before escaping into the MCC scrim because the JIPMER dude broke his watch. We were pulled back, too bad. It was quite crazy, I wanted to see Pondy on the last day, ride around the place on a rented bicycle or something.

JIPMER is this crazy place. It’s got half exploded babies suspended in formalin in cylinders, it’s got weird silent-movie fights between drunkards, and drunks throwing bottles here and there. Let’s take that slowly:

Half exploded babies:

Alright, do not walk in here stoned. You’ll freak out. We went there after the JAM prelims and it was crazy man, like some alien experiments lab or something. It was pretty cool too, except for the PoP model of a ear that was titled “10 day old embryo”. Nice try, but we got you. The babies are crazy, they’re of all races so that makes for an even representation. I bet in a different part of the hospital they put microchips in the babies and make them walk and talk and then people adopt them and then they’re like a spy in that household. Evil place.

Silent Movie Fights:

Imagine a fight in a silent movie, without the exaggerated speed at which the characters move. That’s what we saw, there was a little melee at the gate to Lister House during one of the events and then two characters emerged with curious security personnel following. Then the fight started, with punches and shoves but with no sound, not even grunting or cursing. Even better was how the security personnel took the cue and also acted in silent movie style. It ended without a sound too, one of the fighters was pushed into the gutter where he fell rather comically. It was like a Charlie Chaplin move, hands and legs in the air. Then he got up and was restrained by a security dude. The other guy was pushed back into Lister House, also silently. It was one crazy event.

Random drunks:

There were random drunks everywhere. True to MCC tradition, some of us were sitting near the gutters near Lister House when this guy appeared with a bottle. He was tottering but managed a bold swig from the bottle before flinging it right at us. It smashed near our feet and the place started smelling of cheap liquor, a disgusting smell. So we left. Then another time, while we were walking, Bikram was nearly hit by a speeding drunk dude. It was crazy. Bikram gave him his most Sikkim stare and that fellow melted under the gaze and everyone was happy. No, actually that guy just went into reverse, spun the Indica around Batmobile-style and sped down the road again. Weird.

All in all, it was one crazy experience and parts of it were like a Kafka short story, making no sense at all whatsoever. Never mind, we had fun, for a short while atleast.

PS: It’s Oct 16 now and I still haven’t gotten my prize money. I’m also broke. I could really use that money right about now!

On a completely unrelated note:
I’m running out of time, I’m 19 already!. I just had to post that and since it didn’t deserve a post of its own I just put it at the bottom here.