Tuesday, 23 November 2004

Friday, 19 November 2004

Late night/early morning quickie

CAT time's rolling around, and is just around the corner. Hell, it's turned the corner and heading for me at breakneck pace. And going by my level of prep, that's exactly what's going to happen to me :(

Took a proper 2 hour simulation with the 2002 CAT Bulletin. I wonder where a 51.5 will land me...

Tuesday, 16 November 2004

Random lyfe update

Hmm, my University exams are finally upon me, and I've had absolutely no choice other than to study. Y'see, I'm going to have to, if I want to maintain at least an 80% average. Currently I am on 80.12%, and that is as borderline as anybody can get. Although I *do* have the 8th sem to look forward to, where I think I can put together a decent showing in the project thingy, it'd still be nice to do well this semester. As a result, for a change, I'd have done well in an odd semester. Curiously, for the last 3 years, I've topped the 80 mark only in even semesters, and fortunately for me, it's been a decent topping (~82+), which has served to offset the previous semester's poor performance. So I can still claim to have 80% every academic year...

Many a time, people have wondered why I place so much value in exam results, after basically mucking around all semester. Well - now you'll know. I like giving exams. No, really. Time for a disclaimer here - specifically, I only like giving the exam, not the preparation that has to go into it. If you have any issues with this, kindly take it up over e-mail ;)

Lots of people have been posting political stuff on their blogs - the most prominent being George W. Bush's getting re-elected, and more recently, the Shankaracharya getting arrested. At the time of those particular bits of news breaking, I thought I'd definitely do a long-ish piece on either, but everytime I got close to a comp, I could actually feel the lethargy sneaking around in the my bones, so yeah. But here are my two paise anyways:


  • Dubya - Calamitous. Suckiest news I'd heard all month

  • Shankaracharya - Let the law deal with it.



The latter event had multiple members of my family in a regular to-do. By 'my family', I mean all people related to me. My immediate family's too cool ;)

Anyways, today blew. Went to college and turned out, I'm supposed to come tomorrow. So go back. Sheesh. Hmm, change of topic necessary....

I've finally gotten around to liberating my list of links from the LHS table to the RHS table, below the Google AdSense [click on them!] iframe. Now - I think - they look so much better, free of the table border constraints. If any of you think some link should be there, tell me, and I'll add it! And preferably, get me the URLs of the images of the buttons too ;)

Currently, my comp's running only Windows XP Professional Edition. And this flies in the face of all of my friends' advice to use Win98 for my Internet purposes. But I've installed a firewall thingy [after having to chuck ZoneAlarm for Sygate], so I'd suppose things are fine 'cause I keep blocking the strange shit that WinXP chooses to do, like broadcast to some weird-ass address for 'Simple Service Discovery'. But the amount of spyware inherent in Windows XP is simply staggering. I mean, hello! I really don't like my comp sending/receiving any type of data without my knowledge. And when I'm online through an archaic 56k dialup connection [that isn't really 56k, and never averages above 36-40k, but that's another story for another time], I want to save as much bandwidth as possible for *my* work alone. I don't want my important packets to have to jostle for space with some inexplicable data transfers.

And Google's finally let me down. The Google Desktop Search Tool tries to connect to the Google website, even when I chose for it not to do such stuff during the install procedure. Talking about Google letting down people, I would like to think Orkut is not that bad because of Google. Orkut's so buggy in spite of Google. And that's only because it runs on ASP.NET. I've also noticed stability issues with dotNETJunkies, and a couple of other similarly-enabled sites. So yeah, compared to Google, Microsoft still sux.

Sometime, I'll do a properly full technical post. But until then, I'll just keep updating about each exam!

Nth update: Abilon rocks as a feed reader, but is sadly deficient went it comes to blogging :(

Thursday, 11 November 2004

Amazing!

Guys, check this out! I know, I know, nerd alert and all, but wtf! This, especially, is damn cool.

Don't forget to check out the other demos as well. The things people do! Just when you think there are some things that can never be done...

Wednesday, 10 November 2004

Mumbai Shenanigans

This may seem slightly lopsided, but there's simply *got* to be a post about my Bombay trip, so here goes...

Saturday, 30th October was my date of departure by some Air Sahara flight at 2115 hours from Kamaraj Domestic Terminal. So I reach the airport all decked up, through a light drizzle which very, very uplifting. Now I'd bought a bunch of stuff to eat on the flight, you know, biscuits, chips, the usual, in the hope that there may be at least some time to read a bit. After abusing the free phone in the waiting area near the boarding gates, we board the bus which glides over the tarmac towards our winged wonder. And man. First glance, and I burst out laughing while still in the bus, what with everyone else staring at me and all. The plane! Holy krap, was it small! No, scratch that, it was tiny! It looked like a home-assembled dinky craft. This view of mine was reinforced when they opened the doorway, and it drops to the ground acting as a staircase. Woah!

Now, when I checked in, the female at the check-in counter asked me what kind of seat I want. I said aisle, as a window seat at night may not be all that awe-inspiring, save for the city lights during take-off and landing. So she hands me a boarding pass that reads: "Seat: 9D". This had me doing a minor double-take. So close to the front, sheesh...

As it turned out, Seat 9D was actually so close to the rear! All the plane's interior consisted of was - two columns of double seats, with a single aisle. And there were maybe, oh, 50 seats. And I'm thinking that's a bit too much...Seriously, I think all these planes are the private jet collection of Subroto Roy, converted into passenger craft.

Once the engines started running, and after I got over my initial mirth, me and my window-seat co-passenger were mildly shocked to notice fumes swirling around our feet, all the way up to our knees. But the steward assures us it's just the airconditioning. At that point I noticed one more thing. No stewardesses! Double woah! Domestic airline without stewardesses! What am I supposed to look at, for the duration of the flight? What's the purpose of getting all dressed up and smelling all pleasant, when there are no stewardesses to ogle at?!?

‹disclaimer›
I specifically said 'domestic', not because I like the internation carrier guys, but because international flights usually have in-flight entertainment. So there. Put away your "Will Truman, Esq." theories right now...
‹/disclaimer›

Beyond that, uneventful flight. Except I never got to eat my snackie-wackies, 'cause immediately after take-off, they served an excellent dinner, which, as usual, I wiped off. Following this, I whipped out the CAT Bulletin 2004, and tried out some of the DI thingies, which I soon gave up on. But apparently, not soon enough, because the pilot was announcing the seatbelt stuff and some other 25°C ground weather matter, which clued me into the impending landing event.

And so we touched down, and I met Dad outside the airport. He had a minor temper explosion when the 1st auto guy demanded 250 bucks for going to the Mulund check naka. We hopped out, picked out another auto guy who quietly took us there without so much as a whisper, and charged us normal fare, which came to around 130 rupees. Only.

Sunday saw me getting back in touch with Anusua and Shinaya. Anusua's birthday it was, so she'd called the 10th gang over to her place for a partay. Unfortunately, only meself, Shinaya, Rupal and Akshar could make it, but it was nice nonetheless. Well hell, it really rocked! I even shook a leg! And this was after refusing drinks! Hmm, sometimes even I surprise myself..

Monday was nice. Sat at home and did nothing.

Tuesday was damn cool. Lunched in Pizza Hut at R-Mall, followed by a spot of shopping, with Gitanjeli. Then came home, only to be informed that I had to go back to R-Mall for more shopping, this time with Dad.

Wednesday was nice. Sat at home and did nothing.

Thursday was my driving test! I was slightly apprehensive, and had the occasional irrational moment, when I imagined the RTO Inspector asking me questions about the Motor Vehicles Act. As it turned out, the entire testing process is one great, super-duper sham. All I had to do for the LMV thingy was release the clutch of my Maruti 800 testbed ride, with my instructor [that's right - not inspector] by my side, and drive in a circle. And come to a complete halt. That done, all I had to do for my MCWG test was sign the RTO register declaring me passed in the same. This after me worrying about putting 8 with a proper mobike, with which I have problems ;) And also after I was told I'd mostly have to drive a Kinetic at the test. And again also after i was told that I'd have to drive some old lady's TVS Scooty. Sheesh...

Friday - watched Sachin play some nice shots before getting out like a cheapo. And then, met up with Manish and Biprorshee and went to Hiranandani at Powai. Which was when the fun began.

*beep* *beep* *beep*

We thought we'd go for a spot of bowling at Hakone, but on entering we saw Australia at 58-6 chasing 107, so we settled for a few eats and a round of Air Hockey, which i lost 6-7 to Manish :( I always lose to the damn guy, and its always that close :( But India won and all was OK :)

Later, Akshar joined us at the go-karting tracks, where we were informed that we'd have to wait a couple of hours for our turn if we chose to drive around. Consequently, we ended up just sitting there making fun of the kiddy riders who kept bashing into the tire-walls, and watching one kid in particular blaze a totally professional trail. Heck, he was better than everyone present there that day. And he was probably 11. And all this while we were abusing Manish's cellphone and singing songs out loud.

When we finally left the place due to Biprorshee's folks screaming at him, me and Akshar decided to go to Manish's place, fool around and go home later. Decent decision, that was, because we ended up staying at Manish's place for the night after inventing some creative stories to tell Akshar's folks, right after we

*beep* *beep* *beep* *beep* *beep*

had dinner at this Punju restaurant :)

I tried to read Asterix in the night around 2, but the guys were adamant on turning off all lights :( Oh yeah, that could've been because Akshar had an exam the next day, heheheh :-D

Saturday - oh the despondency of it all! Leaving for Madras this day :( But yeah, oh well, what the hell - as McWatt would say. Quietly packed most of my stuff, but left my new Nike shoes behind due to lack of space :( Finally, caught the train at Kalyan and thanked my lucky stars that the reserved seat guy didn't turn up and make my RAC life uncomfortable :)

Reached Madras Sunday night, and went off to sleep almost immediately upon reaching the house. Who cares about some useless practical exams anyway? ;)

Books read:

- Dan Brown's Deception Point - As usual, a treasure trove of info, but overall, somewhat insipid, compared to Angels & Demons and of course, The Da Vinci Code. But gave me something to talk to my biotech cousin about ;)

- Mario Puzo's The Family - Biography of the Borgia family, forced into a novel. I'm ambiguous about this book, though. Interesting at points, but mostly dull. Unfortunately, not unputdownable :-/

- Sidney Sheldon's Are You Afraid Of The Dark? - Oh God! Mr. Sheldon, why? Surely, his most trite [tritest?] work to date :(

Prax

Wokays, so I'm finally back from Bombay. Actually, I returned this Sunday, as I had univ pracs on Monday and Tuesday.

Monday was Network Programming Lab, and I got to do a UDP echo client/server thingy. Which was done is fairly quick time. The writing part, i.e. After typing out the programs (client and server) and compiling them, everything seemed fine. The first execution cycle brought out a segmentation fault, which was easily enough debugged. The second execution cycle is where my problems began. For some vague, obscure reason, sendto() gave me a "Network Unreachable" error. When I pointed this out to the teacher, she was totally nonchalant about it and said something to the effect of nobody else having any issues. But hey, minor things like this don't bother me at all. What to do next?

Engineering solution ahoy! Since my lab only requires me to run both programs on the same machine, and the teachers looking at your program execution care only about the output, and not too much about the code itself, all I had to do was hardcode the localhost address into the program, and nobody was the wiser. Messages were echo'ed nicely enough after that :)

Of course, there was another problem with multiple users somehow using the same port numbers, but that's silly enough to be considered only transient...

Tuesday was Software Development Lab, where I had to demonstrate my project to the external examiner person. Fortunately, a few days before the exam, we were informed that there wasn't any need to prepare transparencies for the OHP, which came as a great relief. Money saved is money spent on eating! Woohoo!

Anyways, the actual thing was quite awful. First the lab proxy wouldn't let my program connect, so once again I had to hardcode the proxy address into the program, and re-compile and build the entire thing again. And as lots of developers will - and should - agree, MinGW is really, really *SLOW*. Throw into the mix the wxWindows API and Bloodshed Dev-C++, and you have a killer development platform, but one that absolutely, completely *CRAWLS*. Microsoft Visual C++ 6.0 is a total speed demon in contrast. Someday I really have to download the wxWindows Installer for VC++...hmm...maybe for the final year project...

But I digress. Once I got through the proxy, I discovered that the ftp:// and the dict:// portions of my project wouldn't work at all. Upon enquiry, the SysAdmin informs me that only http:// connections will be allowed. Can you believe this? So does this mean nobody is allowed to do programs that use FTP and other protocols? So I request him to just allow everything through the proxy for about 10 minutes, which is supposed to be the duration of my presentation, and he says ok. When on a trial run of this solution, we discover that he has absolutely no idea what to do to allow the connections. I was given the thumbs-up, but even a commandline foo:\>ftp ftp.cdrom.com wouldn't connect. So yeah, he basically told me that he'd take responsibility for the mess, and tell the external examiner (who, incidentally, was from Crescent Engineering College, which is somewhat significant) that the proxy will not accept such connections. Hokay, I'm down with this, as I had the foresight to take screenshots of the functional FTP and DICT thingies at my place. And the demo itself was okay, except it lasted all of 3 minutes! Which left me mega-frustrated! Dude! One full day wasted for 3 minutes! I ask you!

However, I had an inkling of the circumstances and somehow managed to squeeze in some funda sounding terms like "Ghostscript library", "endian-neutral" and "subclassing". Yeah, yeah, I can see all you programmer studs shaking your heads in pity, but college life is basically about being able to suitably impress thy superiors.

Now, about the significance of the Crescent thingy - now, most of the students had downloaded their projects from various places, some had flicked other students' projects, and a small number had actually - wonder of wonders - done their own work! [About my categorization - your call ;)] Anyways, the bottom line is that G.D had taken her project from a Crescent guy, and the examiner was asking her questions like - Did you do this project yourself? Are you sure? So right now, she's plagued by a lot of doubt about her showing in the 'exam'.

Apparently, most people were given rather low marks in the latter exam. Rather low, for practicals, that is. I heard lots of rumours about completely decent people getting only 80s...which is slightly worrying for me. My aggregate is 80.12%, which is borderline. And this can be kept up only if I hit 80 every semester from now. And that's possible only if I get large-ish practical marks...