Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Too many docs

So how many word files have YOU worked on today?

Microsoft Calc is teh broken

There are some mysterious numbers that just dont work in calc.



if you wanna find out what is teh broken, try 50-25

Friday, December 19, 2008

Open SUSE 11.1 out

The distro of choice for me is available with a new update. Downloading the DVD ISO hoping that it comes with a lot of libraries and prevents the problems that I had with the CD ISO. Sticking to it though, despite Fedora and Sabayon being worthy competitors and ignoring sissylinux (aka Ubuntu).
The point to note is the release parties around the world celebrating the update. From Omsk to Tokyo to Berlin to Jakarta, everyone is celebrating, and India is not behind. The interesting thing is that the parties are not in any of the metropolitan cities. Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata are hosting no parties. Even the supposed tech hub of Hyderabad is not involved. The only well known city that is hosting a party is Bangalore, which is not surprising. The other two locations are pretty weird... Vadodara, that's Baroda in Gujrat, and Meerut in UP. So much for UP being a state of undereducated fools... they are hosting a linux launch party at par with the rest of the world.


If you stay anywhere nearby and want to go.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Linux Mythbusting

First post from Linux

I use a Dell Inspiron 6400, got it back when 2 GB of RAM was HUGE and people were using Vista shells on XP just to show that they had Vista. My laptop shipped with a Vista, and I wasn't too proud of it. I would have been happy if it was only half as bas as XP. The difference was noticeable immediately. Vista asked me so many questions, that I was sure that no virus or trojan would get past it. Vista moved like water, and little did I know what this was doing to my system. My laptop used to become an iron box, and I would be impressed by how hot it became. Hell, I could not put my laptop on my lap because of this. I did the usual things that are done with a laptop, put in loads of music, put in loads of photos, and put in loads of movies. I could design stuff on it while working for a small company, and I could handle the tasks necessary off a comp admin guy at my collage fest. All was good and well, and the laptop never gave me any real problems, till the inherent flaws in Vista began to surface with use.
It was taxing the RAM too much. It was hogging up waaay too much memory. Too many things were going on that I didn't know of. And although my own system was not affected, I was infested with viruses, worms and trojans that went on to other computers after passing docilely through my laptop. The combination was so bad that a friend's computer was rendered useless. I just became more careful. The system became more slow. Too slow for me to do anything meaningful with it. Then a huge blow came. The operating system would insistently place the photos folder in the music folder. I kept moving it over and over again, but it mysteriously showed up again in the wrong place. I saw a photos folder where it was supposed to be, and I saw another photos folder in the music folder. So I went ahead and Shift+Deleted the whole thing.
No prizes for guessing what happened. I lost heart. I stopped using my laptop as much as I used to. Then the bottom fell out, the battery died. It was dormant for a month or two, I got a replacement, and booted it up again. It was gone – gone bad. All the folders were exe files, and everything was corrupted. At that time I was having troubles with XP too, and I decided to take the plunge. Linux was the way for me. It was free, and there was some geeky allure to it. So I went for it.
Linux distros are easy to find. They were lying all around. I had ordered an Ubuntu Distro a year ago, and I had received TWENTY CDs. Ten live CDs, and Ten Installation DVDs. Pity they did not send over an installation DVD. Anyway, Ubuntu was a distro for the sissies, seemed too simple, I was up for a challenge or something, and I went for Puppy Linux. It was supposed to be tiny, which left more space for my data. I hated the way it looked. Switched instantly to Dyne: Bolic. Dyne: Bolic was a multimedia specefic distro, but most of it did not work, and it looked horrible anyway. Instead of just booting it live from the CD, I was actually installing it on the disk itself. Next up was Linux Mint. For all its promise of looking good, it did not, and the installation did not work. Fedora next. I liked Fedora. I played around with it a bit, but it would not play any mp3 files (I was young and stupid back then, not knowing about the format), and decided to nuke it. Went through Ear OS (looked horrible), Mandriva (FTW, Just a cmd line?) and Parsix (Persian linux anyone?). Finally, I settled on Open Suse. It looked good, worked well, and I decided to stick to it.
After working on it for some time, I came to understand a few things about Linux
1. It is not faster than windows
Linux is not faster than Windows. Amarok takes as much time to load as Winamp. Vlc takes about the same amount of time on both.
2. Everything is not free
The better, full-featured and supported versions of Linux require payment – like every other OS out there
3. Linux has bugs too
Seriously, Linux has as many bugs as Windows, as many obscure problems you don't really understand show up
4. Linux is not difficult to handle
Its relatively simple to setup, there is always a thread on a forum to help you out with every single specific problem you might Google, even why a particular software is not doing a particular thing on a particular distro. The support is there – and it is great.
5. Linux cannot do everything better
I miss Photoshop. I miss quake.
Linux has as many pros and cons as any other OS out there, but I like it simply because it is a lot easier on my system's resources. I can change everything to my heart's content, and everything is so responsive. I love Amarok, I love F-stop. There are a few things that have to be sorted out, but its still great. Linux requires a constant connection to the internet. Mp3 decoding cannot be given away for free, so they cannot include it in a distro. They have to make a dummy site where you actually pay zero dollars to download the codecs. Getting the codecs is a pain in the ass. Getting all the software to work is a pain in the ass. Handling repositories is also a pain in the ass. But once you go through the gauntlet of setting your distro up, you can't help but adore it. Because it is yours, your machine is unique, no one else has the same set up as you, and everything that your computer does is under your direct control.
And oh, no fucking viruses or trojans or worms or spyware.
That, according to me, settles any argument.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Trek to Prabalgad

As of yesterday, the plan was to trek to Shindola. The plan was to be at Kalyan station by seven in the morning, six forty five if I could make it. Normally, I use Bart's technique for waking up early, and it has never failed me. Drink like a litre of water just before you go to sleep, you are bound to wake up in time for whatever you have to do. There is no food at home, so I think I will eat from someone once we reach, and go to sleep. I wake up at around three thirty in the night because the alarm starts ringing. I stop it, but don't reset the alarm. Then I go back to sleep. And I dream. I dream that every single person I know is holed up in a single large house, and crazy things keep happening (a recurring theme in my dreams for some reason), like me clicking studio quality photos from a Nokia 6600 with a touchscreen kind of an interface and a software that feels like pictomio. Anyway, I drowsily pocket the phone only to realise that its six o clock already, and I have missed my train and the trek. I appreciate how warm my blanket it, how soft the cot is, and think of going back to sleep. Unfortunately, other thoughts come in the way. Either I stay at home and do nothing, or I trek. I can go out later in the day with friends... maybe. Right now nothing is stopping me from sleeping. So I close my eyes. Then it hits me... I cannot smoke! Suddenly, I just need to smoke for some reason, so I get up, grab my cam, throw on a shirt and leave the house. I have a cup of tea, a few drags of cancer, and I head over to Thane station with no clear destination in mind. Somewhere on the way, I weigh my options. There is really no place to head to on my own except Panvel, so I go there. There are a whole bunch of trekking places you can go to from Panvel I figure, and get down at Sanpada, buy tickets, and the next thing I know, I am at the Panvel ST bus depot. I consider Karnala, but that's for sissies. I consider a few other places, then something from a few treks back strikes me. The trek to Kalavantin. I went there enticed by photos like this from this site.

And I thought I would get snaps like that if I tagged along. Turns out that I didn't. That is the view of Kalavantin from Prabalgad, that is the place we went to, but the entire spiral staircase was not visible from any point of the trek. So what the hell I think, I will go and take such photos from Prabalgad. So I get onto the Thakurvadi bus, when it comes. Some fellow with an ektara also boards. Half an hour later, we are at the base, and I start walking.
A little way to the top, I exchange news with a villiager. He tells me that a group has gone up ahead, that they are stopping a lot and climbing, and that I will bump into them. I tell him that I am from Thane and that I am alone. We go our ways. The way up is refreshing. I remember particular spots where things happened the last time I was here. Also, since I am alone, I hear a lot of things, I hear birds calling, I hear lizards moving through the grass, and if I stop and rest, even bees rustling the dry grass. Soon enough, I pass the lot, a bunch of slickers sitting down and posing next to an outcrop of rock. We would have done that if we were in a group, but as an outsider it seems rather odd. A little more to the top I see three uncles and a young boy sitting on a plateu where the prabal villiage is located, just below the pinnacle.
A strange villiager's boy is scared of me, and I cannot pacify him because I don't have a chocolate (his father begs me for one). Point to be noted: always carry chocolates for the children of villiagers.
I reach the villiage, and ask if there is anything to eat at the place we ate the last time we were there. There is nothing. I am feeling a little hungry, but I move on. I go one way, then rethink, come back, and meet the three uncles I just saw. Get into a conversation with them, join their group, and reach till the base of the kalavantin pinnacle. They want to go to Prabalgad, I want to go to Prabalgad, but neither of us knows the way. They make a few calls, get thoroughly confused, and head up to Kalavantin. I take my leave, and try to find my own way to Prabalgad. Now I hug the mountain, and try to find a path. There are cactuses growing all over the place, outcrops of rock that I have to go beneath, and some places where I can just place a single shoe. This twenty minutes of walking was where I almost gave up, it was hell, and I told myself that I would not come BACK this way no matter what happened. Then suddenly, I saw my passport back, the path I was on met a proper path mid-way, and a path lead away from the left, towards the villiage. From there it was easy climbing work, and an hour later, I was on the top. All the way my stomach was filled with the visions of the photos I could take from the top. Once I got there, I met a father and a son, who generously shared their chapatis and potato bhaji with me. Right then, there was nothing in the world that I was in need of - not even a smoke. They left after a while, leaving the whole place to myself. I took my photos, marred, no doubt by all the people standing around kalavantin. But what the hell, it was fun, and I saw the mountain breathe. Before I knew it, I was home with tired legs and clothes drenched through and through with sweat.
And oh, it drizzled a few times, and the sun behaved like a gentleman.