Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Long Weekend

I had fun this weekend writing an app to sync my phone from Linux. (Sound of people typing in "fun" at www.dictionary.com). LG doesn't provide syncing software for Linux and it doesn't publish the protocol used either. So I had to do a bit of reverse engineering to figure out how to do it. With a serial port sniffer, I found that the sync software wasn't doing any voodoo but simply using AT commands (though they weren't standard commands you'd find in the GSM AT specification). After that I learn a bit of serial programming from an good online guide and found a python module for serial programming. So far I've managed to extract the schedule from the phone. The next step is to create a good front end for it and maybe share it on the web. There is a project already for Nokia handsets called gnokii.
Other than that, after yet another failed attempt to rent out The Usual Suspects I ended up watching Toy Story and North by Northwest. And there was a trip to the perpetual mela called Forum with Danny. This week's amusement was watching the suckers who had queued up to get inside McDonalds. Danny has become interested in Krishnamurthi's books. Both of us bought The Ending of Time which contains conversations between Krishnamurthi and David Bohm. Yet to start reading it.
Anyone interested in a hike on the abandoned railway track from Donigal that Snu went on last weekend? Here's a friend's travelogue on this hike.

Monday, October 18, 2004

The SEP Field

The SEP field is an amazing technology introduced in Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy "trilogy". It is a cheaper alternative to the invisibility field and serves the same purpose. So how does it work? Well, SEP stands for "Somebody Else's Problem". The SEP field relies on the human observer's tendency to subconsciously ignore the existence of things that look like somebody else's problem. Read on here for a funnier description.
If you're wondering why I posted this today: Mohan and I were going out for breakfast a while ago when the lift stopped at the third floor. When the door opened, there was this guy briskly sweeping a pile of dust into the lift. He probably was a bit late in seeing the lift occupied and then changed the direction of the sweep a bit. Neat idea though. If you can't sweep it under a carpet, just use the lift and make it somebody else's problem.
Coming back to Hitchhiker's, there are other articles in Wikipedia on The Total Perspective Vortex, Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster and Vogon Poetry. If this whets you appetite for the book, you could borrow the "trilogy" from me.

Sunday, October 17, 2004


I'm not going to write on the "I want to save the planet" or "I want to soar like and eagle" or "I want to give Schwarzenegger a wedgie" kind of dreams here. It's about the more interesting ones I wake up to on some days.
Just yesterday there was this guy from college (barely knew him) who suddenly turned psychotic and started chasing Kamath, Sito and me with a bazooka in hand. After a long chase we managed to give him the slip and end up in a lake bed. Just when it looked like a safe place to hide, we see pug marks. A little away we see granite sculptures of some animals. As we move closer, one of them roars. It turns out they are tigers covered in foam. I didn't know tigers also had foam parties. I tell others about a report and photo in The Times about foam formation in Bellandur lake due to effluents from textile units. Kamath helpfully adds, "Know what? We are in Bellandur." Satisfied with the explanation we let the tigers continue their party and move on. We soon find other victims hiding there and get into a meeting to figure out why the psycho is after us and where he got that frikkin bazooka from. Don't remember much after that.
I've spent most of my conscious hours today trying to figure out how the subconscious comes up with such interesting stuff. The foam from the lake can be attributed to the photo in The Times yesterday, but where the heck did those party animals come from? I haven't been watching any NGC, Discovery, Animal Planet or AXN this weekend. Also couldn't figure out why that sidey from college was after us either. Even if I'd inadvertently done some harm to him in college, why was he after Sito and Kamath? Anyone who does dream analysis out there? Dirty Freudians can stay out of this exercise!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Plan 9 From Outer Space

Did you know that Plan 9, the OS from Bell Labs is named after the movie Plan 9 From Outer Space? It's one of those movies that is so bad that it is actually a good watch. Here's a site on Plan 9 flubs. This reminded me of masochists in college who liked suffering first day first shows of Mithun Da's B grade movies. If you are a bad movie aficionado, here are some links that you can use to populate your TO DO lists -
Bad movie reviews (Turkey ratings)
Worst movie list on Wikipedia
The Golden Raspberry Awards
The IMDB bottom 100 list
There is also the IMDB top 250 list if you are looking for good films.

Quote of the week: Tau at dinner last Friday - "Whenever I have a difficult choice to make in life, I always consult my dad. I know for sure I have to make the opposite choice."

Friday, October 01, 2004

Narasimha Parvatha

I was down with viral fever for the last four days. The stud that I am, it is unlikely that this had anything to do with last weekend's trek to Narasimha Parvatha. The 7 km trek up to the top was fun. This was the popular trail and not difficult at all. Rains and fog spoiled some of the fun of camping at the top. The next day, for the trek back, some of the more adventurous members suggested we take an 18 km trail that would take us through dense forests. Reasoning was that since it was downhill, it shouldn't be difficult. Well, it did turn out to be downhill from there on (figuratively not literally).
For one, the trail went steeply downhill and then it was mostly uphill. The next problem lay in the jungles. The guy who thought of the phrase "jungle mein mangal" probably wasn't in his right mind (or in his left one for that matter). The only things that seemed to be doing any "mangal" there were the gazillion leeches that had come out in the previous night's rain. Getz you here, getz you there could well be the theme song for our trek through the jungle. It's hard to describe leeches satisfactorily without resorting to profanity. Suffice to say that you would be happier letting Dracula coochie-coo with you than having one of these slimy blood suckers in your shoes. The trek back started at 7 am and ended at 3 in the afternoon with two stops in between for "de-leeching". One of the stops was at Barkhana falls where I discovered that these slimy @#&*er$ don't drown. At the next stop I learnt that stomping hard on these slimy @#&*er$ only damages your knees.
I've posted selected photos from my camera here. There are more photos by Manjula and Prabhu here.