Monday, March 30, 2009

Amazing camaraderie!

This guy is amazing!

The power of the lion can be seen around 0:26-0:32 when, it pulls the guy down casually with just a single paw, as if he was just a stuffed doll or something :)
Cannot imagine the strength it will manifest when a lion's intentions are hostile :O

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Valid query to banks.

A sarcastic joke ;)

Dear Sirs,

In view of what seems to be happening internationally with banks at the moment, I was wondering if you could advise me correctly…

If one of my cheques is returned marked ‘insufficient funds,’

how do I know whether that refers to me, or to you

Thanks to Chirag for sharing this one from here.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

My favorite Windows utilities - Part 2

A big limitation of Windows is that, the clipboard is limited to storing only a single item (text, image, file, URL etc). A cut/copy operation irretrievably deletes the previous contents of the clipboard. Actually, Microsoft already has an implementation of a multiple item clipboard which is used in MS Office. I wonder why MS does not ship it with the OS also; probably, some anti-trust regulation or patent royalty prohibits the inclusion.
ClipX is the utility I use to get over this problem. Its a very handy feature, especially for developers, since they have to work on multiple files and cut/copy-paste a lot from here and there (read 'code reuse' ;) ). ClipX can remember upto 1024 clipboard entries! Moreover, it can restore the clipboard state across machine reboots. One can assign a shortcut key for clipX which pops up a menu showing clipboard entries. Selecting one pastes it. ClipX remembers text, bitmap and even files. One can set it to ignore any of the three if not required.

ClipX is free(of cost) and, can be downloaded from here ( size 108KB).

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Am a clairvoyant ;)

Got to know about an interesting site called 'You Just Get Me', thanks to The Mouse Trap.
The site is more of a psychology research experiment designed to understand how and how accurate are people's impressions about one another. The website is developed by a team researchers from Psychster Inc. The case they are studying is something like this - you meet a stranger in a party and form an impression about him/her after observing his/her behaviour for a very short amount of time(a couple of mins may be). A large part of the impression is contributed to by the person's facial expressions. Are there any specific factors which play a major role in assisting one to understand other person's nature, given access to his/her facial expressions and a subset of his/her traits ? According to the researchers at -
'For decades, journals wouldn't publish reseach[sic] on this issue, arguing it wasn't valid. If this site is a success and lots of people use it, we're going to strip off all the names (and other identifying information) and tell the world what we learned.'

At YJGM, you have to guess personalities of random people. You can go through their profiles before answering questions about them. After guessing, your guess and the actual personality are compared side-by-side. There is also a more interesting 'Mini Mind-Reading' quiz in which one has to guess a personality
'based on nothing but a thumbnail and a username'. A score of 0.60 over 20 guess fetches you a Certificate of Clairvoyance :D

I got one on my second attempt. Out of haste, I ruined a nice score of 0.8+ which i'd maintained till first 15 guesses in the first attempt :( My average answering time in the second attempt was around 8-10 secs. Since there is hardly any data to analyze, a few seconds are enough. IMHO, the trick is - rather than use the profile picture to guess the personality, use the picture to guess what the person must have thought
in putting up that picture. This gives a bit of insight into that user's personality. Not sure whether this method is correct though...

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Top 100 blogs for software developers:

The OPML file for importing them directly into your RSS reader is here.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My favorite Windows utilities - Part 1

After using Linux as the desktop OS for a considerable time, I had to migrate to Windows because we have to use Windows for development at office. The peculiarity of Windows as has been noted by many is - it is extremely friendly for a novice but extremely limited for power users esp. those who are used to linux and other command line operated OSes. So, I decided to share some software which i use everyday to make Windows power-user friendly. Most of the software in the list will be available for free(i.e free of cost). Any additions are more than welcome!

Here is the first part of the series:

The biggest problem with Windows is - the mouse! No one wants to repeatedly switch hands between the keyboard and the mouse. Doing so reduces speed quite a lot. In linux/unix most of the things can be done without using the mouse. But, going by the default settings and available options in Windows the mouse is almost indispensable. One essential software I use, to speed up program launching and even document opening is - Find and Run Robot aka FARR.
It is a extremely nifty software! It indexes all the programs from the Start Menu, documents from 'My Documents' and any other folder you wish to specify. Then at the press of a hot key, a small window pops up(similar to Gnome/KDE's Alt+F2 window) where you can quickly type in whatever you wish to run. With excellent auto-completion features builtin, you rarely need to type more than 3-4 characters. An important feature of the search is - the characters you type need not be the first, FARR can search substrings. This feature is an excellent optimisation. For eg. to launch 'Google Talk', I would have other wise need to type 'Google' and then scroll a bit though the searched apps to launch Gtalk. Instead, I just type 'alk' and Google Talk comes as the first one.
Every app is ranked according how frequently it is run. Thus, frequently launched apps always turn up at the top. One can manipulate the ranking by giving the app some additional score. FARR also contains aliases for common tasks. For eg. typing 'wiki gearbox' will take me to wikipedia's page on 'Gearbox'.
Another useful set of features is the set of plugins available for FARR. For example one can set up a short cut such that typing 'g python' will automatically google for 'python' and launch the results in a new tab in the default browser. There is also a calculator plugin. Here is the addons page for FARR -

There are many softwares which provide functionality similar to FARR, FARR's help file contains a long list of those. But, the customizability and SDK availability for FARR allows you to introduce additional features catering your specific need. This was one of the reasons why i chose FARR over some others.

Download FARR from here.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009


Whom else to mimic other than the most experienced creator* known till date i.e nature. Bio-mimicry is the science which studies nature and natural phenomenon and then, tries to solve modern-day problems by mimicking nature's solutions to comparable ones. Nature (i.e evolution) has been building solutions for its problems since millions of years. Even without any conscious thought or intelligence, nature has managed to produce extremely optimal designs which have survived the test of time. Copying nature is not all that unobvious then :)

Here is a list of some cool cases of bio-mimicry -
Visit the biomimicry institute website here.

*Pardon the anthropomorphosis. By 'creator', i do not wish to mean an intentioned creator.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

The dwindling art of Sangeet Naataks.

Got a chance to see two fabulous Sangeet Naataks in the last couple of weeks - 'कट्यार काळजात घुसली' and 'सौभद्र'. I am a fan of Natya Sangeet and so, both the plays were more than a treat for me :) . Saw the first one at Bharat Natya Mandir and second at Balgandharva Ranga Mandir.

'कट्यार काळजात घुसली' (Katyar Kaljat Ghusli lit. Dagger pierced the heart) is about 'Gharanebazi' and how it adversely affects an aspiring, young and talented singer. 'Gharanebazi' essentially means hostililty towards other gharanas. In the past, this practice was an integral part of the Indian Classical Music tradition. Today, distinction based on Gharanas is not uncommon but, the unfriendliness has subsided. The play is from the period when, musical Guru from one gharana would never teach a student who had earlier learned in another gharana. Nowadays, one can certainly have gurus from multiple gharanas.
I managed to click some snaps during the play - they are here.

सौभद्र (Saubhadra) is a play about Lord Krishna's cunning plot to let his elder sister (सुभद्रा) marry whom she wishes to marry with (अर्जुन), rather than someone whom her elder brother thinks fit (दूर्योधन). The subtle message in the play asks us to accept love marriage as a valid way of matrimony. This message to the society was much needed in the nineteenth century when, the play was conceived.

Marathi sangeet naataks are a blend of music and dialogues. But so are Bollywood films, aren't they ? The important difference however, is - there is no playback singing in sangeet naataks. The songs (many of them based on raagdari) are sung and not lip-synced. Also, the songs in sangeet naataks are meaningful, well composed (rhyming etc) and at times philosophical. Unlike in bollyflicks, every song fits integrally into the drama and is temporally relevant. The songs serve to move the story ahead. Many dialogues which would otherwise have been in prose are incorporated into the songs.

The art of sangeet naatak has survived more than one and a quarter centuries. In the late nineteenth century, when Marathi naatak industry was in its infancy, Annasaheb Kirloskar is said to have created the first 'sangeet naatak' - Shakuntala. As with many marathi plays in that era, this one too was adapted from a Sanskrit play but, its music was said to be inspired by Persian musical plays. Sangeet naataks since then, saw many great writers, directors and actor-singers. Kirloskar, Deval, Kolhatkar, Bal Gandharva are few of the eminent names from the bygone era I am aware of.
In the mid and later 20th century eminent singers like Pt. Vasantrao Deshpande popularized natya sangeet and sangeet naataks. His role of Khansaheb in 'Katyar Kaljat Ghusli' become so popular that, he used to be called 'Pandit Vasantkhan Deshpande'. I have listened to his renditions literally hundreds of times and yet, I never wish to stop listening. The absolute ease with which he sang was his hallmark.

Today, sangeet naataks have not remained very popular. I think, sangeet naataks are a victim of their own requirements. For a sangeet naatak performer to be good, not only he needs to be a good looking actor, he also needs to be a learned classical singer. During the play, many songs get a 'once more', and the performer resings the song. But, it is an implicit requirement that the second rendition contains some improvisations and, is not just a copy of the initial one. To do this, one must have command and knowledge of music. Also, singing requires much more energy than dialogue delivery does. In addition to that, the performer has to learn-by-heart and practice the songs in addition to his dialogues. This translates into more time for rehearsals. An actor, willing and fitting to do all these things must be hard to find. Moreover, does a sangeet naatak performer earn appreciably more than a normal play actor ? Probably not. This fact might be keeping potential good performers away from sangeet naataks. Also, since the songs are based on classical music, those not interested in classical music prefer to stay away from sangeet naataks. Overall, the situation of sangeet naataks is not even as good as the situation of marathi naatak industry.

For people who like sangeet naataks, the only way to help keep the show running is - go and watch sangeet naataks. Once, twice, thrice.. whenever they have a show.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Top 10 tech companies that pay engineers the most -

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An answering machine like service for instant messenger accounts. Will be useful when one is out of town...

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Orkut bug ?

Orkut seems to have sheltered a rather silly bug :)
As of now, Orkut is using the word 'her' irrespective of the person's gender under the 'Updates from my friends' section on the homepage. Even for guys, the message shown is 'XYZ received comments on her photo'.
Lets see how much time they take to fix this one. Just curious...

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