Some Weather Fun

Okay, Kottke’s The weatherman throws up his hands post had me laughing out really hard. Given that it’s been precipitating over here in Chandigarh for past 4-5 days continuously, the post is appropriate and funny. Go read it.

A Calvin & Hobbes Fan

I’m a Calvin & Hobbes fan. Have been for a long time. Once upon a time when I wasn’t as busy with work, I actually spent time collecting strips from the official site. Religiously. Every day. Built up quite a collection too.

Recently I came across the collector’s edition of Calvin & Hobbes: The Complete Calvin & Hobbes. This includes all the syndicated strips plus all special illustrated stories and poems that have appeared in individual books. Plus an original introduction by the man himself, Bill Watterson. There are full-colour covers and spot art pieces all over the collection too. All this in 3 hardbound books in a box.

I ordered it. Sort of a New Year’s gift to myself. Got it on January 29.

Some photos:
The Complete Calvin & Hobbes Collector's Edition Bookset (View 1) The Complete Calvin & Hobbes Collector's Edition Bookset (View 2) The Complete Calvin & Hobbes Collector's Edition Bookset - Open The Complete Calvin & Hobbes Collector's Edition Bookset - Open (View 2)

Creative Commons Launches in India

Creative Commons has launched its India chapter, allowing localised versions of Creative Commons licenses to be available for Indians.

Best of luck guys!

Loving & Enjoying What I Do Gets Better?

Three words that most people who know me know nearly run my life:

  • Computers
  • Internet
  • Music

How many people get a chance to do what they want to do, their hobby being their job, and their passion for something getting a chance to become something real & practical? Not many. I’m one of the luckier few.

I can’t talk about it right now but trust me, I’m really excited right now with the possibilities of what I’ve managed to get involved with! Watch this space for some info. :)

What I Do At Work

Since I had to and am not feeling particularly modest today, I decided to write down the important bits from among all the stuff I do at work:

  • Manage a team of 15 designers for online advertising/marketing + brand development work. This is the core work that takes up bulk of my time. This includes art direction, visualisation, copy writing and all the related stuff except actual production (working in software).
  • Manage & develop accounts. These days there are two core accounts that need my active involvement, plus three that I am developing. There are 7 accounts in all where we do regular work (at least a few hours per week) and about as many other accounts that send in work on and off but get priority in the work queue when they do due to past association or future potential.
  • Supervise network, system, and office administrators for all things technical (network issues, hardware upgrade, etc.) and non-technical (management issues, procurement, etc.)
  • Provide training in non-technical fields. I generally take daily sessions of my team as part of my effort to upgrade their skills in an organised manner. These have expanded to taking sessions related to better management, self-development, etc. of other groups within office.
  • Product development. I’m involved in at least 2 internal products that are being developed. I’m running the show in one and am part of a 3-member management team in the other. There are a few other projects where I’m helping out in different capacities, mostly consultative.
  • Process Engineering. Being the guy who’s responsible for writing about 80% of processes being followed in the office, having initiated and handled the initial bit of the ISO 9002 certification drive, and the fact that despite being the largest in the office, my team is the most organised and productive, I am currently taking a fresh look at the processes and writing down a common framework around which the entire office will function. For now, I’m working on improving time tracking & reporting of everybody in the office, as well as processes for QA team. Interesting work.

There are quite a few other things that I have my finger in that also take up some time now and then. Little surprise I sleep so less. Anybody wanna hire me? 😉

Chandigarh Temperature At 30-Year Low

Yesterday night, the temperature touched 0 degrees Celcius, the lowest in 32 year history. The last we saw this happen was in 1974, years before I was even born. Wow.

Ways of the Traffic Police

While ‘obedient’ women drivers are given gift hampers in Chandigarh, traffic rules violaters get Tulsi plants in Surat.

Headlines Gone Wrong

November 27, 2006

  • Police yet to nab criminals behind murder of VSNL (The Times of India) Apparently the Tata owned company has been murdered and the search is on to nab the criminals in Bihar. How the murder of an engineer of the company came to be called the murder of the company is also still a mystery.

November 21, 2006

  • Bomb-like object explodes in Pimpri (The Times of India) It was a crude device. It exploded. Police says it was a ‘crude bomb’. Newspaper says it was only like one but not really the real thing. Perhaps it’s only a bomb if something gets destroyed or somebody gets injured.
  • Doc dies after high-rise jump (The Times of India) A doctor jumps to his death off of a multi-story building to be christened the best high-jumper ever who jumped so high that he died when he landed.

Slashdot Geeks Comment On WebVastu

Wired learns about Smita Narang applying principles of Vastu Shastra to web design (apparently The Register had covered her back in June) and asks her to review Slashdot. The geeks tear her to pieces. Precious.

On “Murder, we said”

My response to the Editorial “Murder, we said” by Jug Suraiya in The Times of India:

The editorial puts an interesting spin on capital punishment.

But the same logic you apply to urge Indians to look down upon capital punishment, almost calling it immoral but at least suggesting it to be inhuman, can be applied to any punishment…

Why should state have the right to ‘murder’ a criminal you ask. So I ask:

  • Why should state have the right to ‘try’ anybody for any crime?
  • Why should state spend my tax money to feed and tend to ‘criminals’?
  • Why should state lock up anybody?

Just because capital punishment ‘kills’ you call it murder from your standpoint of this notion of right of life. So doesn’t locking up prisoners infringe on their right to be free? Who is a judge or a law to decide if a person will be allowed to roam free or locked up in a small room, and for how long?

You say capital punish is not an able deterrent. Is any other punishment? So why have punishments at all? Let’s just keep a public record of reprimands a person has been given for committing what we, for now, call ‘crimes’ and hope that public embarrassment will keep people from committing them. But then, somebody will write a song about how somebody got inspired into collecting most such reprimands and you will label this system a failure too, perhaps even calling it an inhuman infringement of a person’s human right not to be publicly embarrassed.

If you dare dismiss the above with a wave of your hand, perhaps calling it an over-reaction or irrelevant, or try to walk the fine line of how it is OK to do anything but take one’s life or be ‘barbaric’ in meting out punishment, I question you on your definition and notion of this inhumanity. If it’s inhumanity to you to infringe a person’s right to life, perhaps to some so is the infringement of a person’s right to freedom. Where does it stop?

So who are you to suggest a person’s life be spared when that person did not care in taking another’s in whatever emotional state of being? Call capital punishment revenge or call it state sponsored murder if it gives you satisfaction and a moral high-ground from where to scream at us barbaric inhumans while we rejoice when a killer is killed in revenge/justice.

Starbucks Is Coming To India

Finally, Starbucks finalises its retail partner and sets the ball rolling to enter the Indian market. After the franchisees taking Barista brand to bust (you should see the dilapidated outlets to believe it. Not all outlets are like the few that are earning the brand such a bad name but it shows laxity on the company’s part too) and Cafe Coffee Day simply not cutting it in quality and experience, to finally have a brand that gets it is exciting.

Here’s looking for some great coffee… sometime nearer in future than ever before. 😛

Adobe Site of the Day

The site for a new residential development by Jade Jagger in New York City developed by my team in Net Solutions with C-Cube is Adobe Site of the Day. Cool.

A Curse…

I just cursed a friend thus:

god is a witness to your crime. you will eat more salt than what is prescribed for a man of your body mass with your activity profile and consequently you will have to drink more water and piss more and in one such visits to the loo, you will become obsessed with the idea of painting your toilet bright candy pink and in the process of the said painting, dunk your finger in the paint and draw hearts on the toilet seat just as your best friend walks in to find out doing that, takes a photo and sends it to all your friends.


Did Google Buy YouTube So Yahoo Couldn’t?

The channels are full of the big news: Google has bought YouTube. And as I read the commentaries, I wonder what’s going on. We have so many opinions and most of them are on similar lines…

  • Google made a stupid mistake
  • Eric Schmidt is a moron
  • GoogTube
  • et al.

What I find particularly missing are two core facts:

  1. Google’s total IQ is probably more than the GDP of some countries (it’s not my line, I read it somewhere ages ago). They don’t make stupid mistakes.
  2. Yahoo has been on a roll recently with some very cool, strategic buys that are pushing them hard into a challenging position and they have been making some very bold decisions to get there (eg: making yahoo mail source open).

So I ask, is this $1.65 billion purchase of YouTube more a stupid mistake by those who can do no wrong or a very capable strategic decision for a cash-rich company to deny one of its biggest rivals a fast-track into the competitive online video arena?

Hero Honda Re-Launches ‘CBZ’, My Love

Hero Honda has re-launched the once-phased-out 156-cc bike CBZ as CBZ Xtreme.

They had apparently hoped that Karizma would grab the CBZ market. I guess with it being a 225cc bike in the 70+k range, and availability of 150cc category bikes from Bajaj in the 50k+ range, they had some trouble doing so.

I had bought CBZ in October 2000. It was my first big purchase with my earned money. The only reason I had bought CBZ at that time was because it was, at that time, the best indian-made 2-wheeler in the market, especially for a 22-year old guy. I had initially planned to buy a LML scooter since before then I had been driving one loaned from my brother-in-law. A few weeks before I was to make the purchase, I was talking to one of my friends in the parking lot and just happened to sit down on a 2-wheeler. I felt so comfortable that I had to mention it to my friend and inquired about the bike I was sitting on (and believe me, I didn’t know squat about bikes at that time; not even what was available in the market). Once I knew the name, I knew what I was going to buy.

My mind made up, I bought the bike as September turned into October. I remember I did not know how to start it. That surely drew a few smiles from the assembly of people just outside the showroom, marvelling at the contours of this fine silver piece of machinery which at that time was not only a symbol of the well-to-do but generally considered the best looking 2-wheeler on the road. It showed the fuel needle at empty and I was told it had enough to go to the petrol pump. I filled up the tank there once I made it across, learning how to change gears with my foot instead of my hand and not really accustomed to the raw power it gave me. Boy! Did it have an awesome pickup! The vroom and the hum of the CBZ engine, the vibrations of the body under me, the balance, the seat moulding as it seemed to adjust to my body’s shape, the clear “O master! I am thine” message that it gave me, the experience! made me realise what those bikers felt that I had so often seen in the biker Hollywood movies, and those seemingly insane guys I knew who would rattle off bike specs and drool at the mention of Yamahas and Hondas, and those who would groan when somebody said ‘Harley-Davidson’.

Yes I know CBZ was nothing compared to those bikes but it was the best in India then in any respect, and it was mine, and it was purring below me, gently coaxing me to let it unleash the power it held.

I love that bike. Anybody who knows me will probably smile at that statement for after driving it for 5 years the petrol tank sprang a leak as my so-called lack of time let me lull myself into an excuse for not maintaining it. I’ve been telling everybody I will get it repaired and most likely in November I actually will.

Meanwhile, i will look at all the classic CBZs on the road, and the vinyl-covered abominations Hero Honda launched a couple of years after I bought mine which probably drove the last nail in the bike’s coffin anyway, and remember the beauty that stands at my home.

I am hoping the new CBZ avatar titled “CBZ Xtreme” is going to go back to the roots and launch the bike in its glory, reminding all bikers in India that even now, no other bike in the country packs the power, the grace, the looks, and the sensuality of a true CBZ.

Update: I took my CBZ to the show-room today. It is so messed up (apparently) that the mechanic there called me at 6pm and told me he will continue working on it tomorrow. I don’t know how much the current bill is, but it crossed 5k around 4:30pm.

Supreme Court Whacks Politicians Upside The Head!

In an observation to certain activities by the Government, the Supreme Court of India basically told the Centre in pretty clear terms to do its job and not try to take up stuff that’s meant for judiciary under their blind run of appeasement politics.

Spineless Opportunistic Traitorous Politicians

The J&K Chief Minister is seeking presidential clemency for Mohd. Afzal sentenced to death in the Parliament attack case.

It’s a sad, sad day.

Updated October 11: The Supreme Court of India sent an indirect message to the President by quashing a politically inspired pardon by a Governor in response to a PIL and made it clear that any clemency granted because of extraneous factors where it “eliminates conviction witoutout addressing the guilt” would be subject to judicial review.

PU Hostels Go Without Connectivity

While many Indians are squirming in embarrassment while the other majority are feeling angry about the recent inept and callous blocking of some rather popular blog sites by Indian ISPs on Government orders, I came across a completely different report today much closer to home that made me read it again just to make sure I had understood it right. Digest this:

All hostels in Panjab University, Chandigarh are disallowing independent access to the Net to residents, irrespective of their departments or level of education, because they are “not mature enough to access the Internet”. These pearls of wisdom belong to none other than the Dean, Student Welfare, Prof. Nirmal Singh, who opines that, “All they do is open bad sites.”

It makes me wonder if those in power to take such decisions and have them implemented are really so clueless, or is doing so more like an ego-trip for them, since whatever be the reason, in the end, only the end-user suffers and the organisation’s image (whether it be a University or a country) that takes a hit.

The Physics Connection

My father retired as a Professor of Physics from Panjab University, Chandigarh in 1996, having taught Physics for 43 years. Always interested in improving Science education in general and Physics education in particular, he has served in the Board of Studies of various universities in North India, written books for NCERT, been a regular member of NCERT’s NTSE selection panel, and is one of the founding members of Indian Association of Physics Teachers (IAPT). He’s served on the Executive Council of IAPT for years in various capacities and is currently the ex-officio General Secretary and the Chief Editor of the monthly Bulletin of the Indian Association of Physics Teachers, IAPT’s monthly magazine that goes out every month to over 4000 addresses and is read by approximately twice as many educators all over the country and many abroad.

IAPT organises two Physics exams every year:

  • National Graduate Physics Examination (NGPE) for B.Sc. (Bachelors) level students of Physics, and
  • National Standard Examination in Physics (NSEP) for +2 (Pre-Grad) level students.

Approximately 30,000 students registered to write the NSEP examination held in November ’05. The top 1% from those who gave the exam were selected for Indian Physics Olympiad (InPhO). The top 60 students from there went into a selection Camp in HBCSE, Mumbai out of which the top 30 participated in a 7-10 day camp from where the team of 5 was chosen to represent India in the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) held in Singapore this month.

Raghu Mahajan, one of the team members, is from Chandigarh. I remember the day he visited us to get my father’s advice on practicals (Vijai Singh, who (Update: teaches) has taught Physics in IIT, Kanpur and is the National Science Olympiads coordinator, referred him over).

Each member of the team won a medal—2 golds and 3 bronzes in all (Official IPhO results).

Chandigarh Administration & IT Attitude

After a (perhaps the) local newspaper reported a faux pas on the official website of Chandigarh Administration, the Director of IT, Manjit Singh Brar said he would have the site updated immediately. The error? The map of Chandigarh posted there did not show the IT Park and the third phase of the city.

This has apparently been done since then (rather hastily I might add).

Given the fact that the Administration is pushing so hard on the IT front, the fact the official site has such an omission is more than surprising. Imagine a scenario where those in the administration who want to promote investment in IT approach a company. This company on a whim decides to check out the administration’s site for more information. There they realise that the IT aspirations of Chandigarh are myopic, that what is being preached is not being practised. A natural question that might come to mind is, “For an administration with that level of commitment to IT, how can expect support when it matters.”

Department of Information Technology Chandigarh has a better website than Chandigarh Administration. However, it does not contain a map of the city either. It provides the plan for the IT Park but does not provide its location relative to the city or its scale in relation to the city.

Even Municipal Council of Chandigarh supposedly has a website but I was unable to contact the web server.

Doesn’t quite make much sense, does it?