Saturday, September 18, 2004

Firefox 1.0 Pre-Release Candidate is available for download, but I don't think it is ready for prime time yet (the Linux version, at least). It breaks many of the useful extensions that work with 0.9.3. Also, for some reason, the 'Get More Extensions' link in the Extensions window refused to work. To top it all off, when I tried running 0.9.3 (I had installed 1.0PR separately), I found that it was also behaving erratically (the Adblock extension kept appearing on and off, depending on whether I invoked it from the KDE Panel or from the command line). I restored sanity by knocking off 1.0, renaming my profile folder in 0.9.3 and re-installing my extensions.

I am not bad-mouthing Firefox, BTW. I still think it is a great browser. All power to the folks at Mozilla. I only hope that they kiss and make up with Arvid Axelsson so that Qute becomes the default theme once again.
One of my friends emailed me a link, asking me to enter my birthday in the form pointed to by the link. I blithely went to said link, filled my name, date of birth and email address; just after clicking on the OK button, it struck me: what a neat way to harvest email addresses and other important[*] information! And I might have fallen for this like a complete jackass. There is a chance that the whole thing is genuine, but this is one more instance that shows that even the best us of (yup, that's me :-)) let our guards down sometimes.

[*] considering that your date of birth is often used to validate credit card transactions.
Smalltalk trivia: what would you get if you typed the following in a workspace and clicked on PrintIt?

anyObject class class class class class ... ad infinitum

assuming that a) anyObject has been initialised and b) you have a life and stop after typing 'class' 10 or 20 times?

I'll give the answer in a later post.
WTF?? If I click my Technorati Profile (at the top right corner of my blog), I am told that my associated Weblog is something called ~Kissable~Loveable~Huggable~Unbelievable~ I admit, I possess all of these qualities, but still, I would like my profile to point to my blog.

Anyway, it's not like Technorati is bringing me a lot of eyeballs, so I'll leave it like it is for the time being. I also like the cute (Turkish?) girl featured on that page.

Friday, September 17, 2004

I don't know who is the pettier of the two: the Kerala government for deliberately omitting Gujarat from the national anthem (if it is deliberate, that is), or the Chief Minister of Gujarat for taking offence over it.

To complete the misery, there is a news item which suggests that Bangladesh is doing much better than India in removing social/gender inequalities. I am not begrudging Bangladesh's achievements (they need some good news as much as we Indians do), BTW, but am only drawing attention to our wrong policies.

These are the days when you wish the British had never left India...
Predictably, the row over who will bag the telecast rights is heating up, with the BCCI now tripping over itself in court:

"Meanwhile, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which had earlier said both ESPN-Star Sports and Zee Telefilms were eligible for telecast rights, today, in an affidavit, stated that both were ineligible."

Why am I not surprised?
Both wget and curl have let me down. After my download aborted for some reason (after downloading more than 400 MB), wget refused to continue the download even though I had specified the --continue option. I then decided to try curl (curl has an option of continuing from a specified offset); but it turned out that for some reason, curl didn't stop at the point where it should have reached the end the file and continued happily downloading. End result: a total of about 800 MB downloaded, and still no ISO file. Grrr...

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

I am presently engaged in the biggest download attempt of my life: a full ISO image of the Smalltalk ESUG 2004 offerings. 160 MB down, 440 MB to go... I am assuming that the --continue option in wget works. If it doesn't, I guess I'll have to grin and bear it and order the CD through PayPal (which I would like to avoid, BTW).

Monday, September 13, 2004

Watched Shrek 2 last night. Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas' voice-overs for the donkey and the cat respectively are simply hilarious. Whenever these characters spoke, I couldn't help picturing the actors behind the voices; this added to the fun. The high point of the movie for me was the spoof of 'Cops' when Shrek and his buddies get arrested; the cat is pressed against the wall and its paws are cuffed behind its back. The 'police' discover a small plastic pouch containing a suspicious-looking powder hidden in the folds of the cat's clothes; the cat says "that's not mine" in a thick Spanish accent. I was literally rolling on the floor.
I know it's no fun being exposed to the fury of hurricanes as is happening right now in Cuba, Jamaica and parts of America, but I find the idea of hunkering down in one's home with no electricity, with winds howling and rain lashing the battened-down windows, with just a battery-operated radio that transmits information about how far away the storm is (and how quickly it is approaching you) quite pleasant, actually. There are probably two reasons for this: a) this scenario reminds me of the typical murder mystery in which a bunch of people are caught during a rainstorm in an isolated cabin/mansion with a murderer amongst them and b) I have experienced this personally and enjoyed the forced vacation from school (the fact that our roof wasn't blown away when I was taking a dump in the bathroom probably played a part, too).
Here is an article that talks about how two of the most intransigent maths problems might have been solved. I have only one complaint about this article: the way it exaggerates the threat to the security of our online transactions because of the danger to internet cryptography posed by one of these solutions. I agree that the author has qualified this prediction with a big if, but the fact that people have been trying in vain for millennia to find order in the sequence of prime numbers reassures me that our cryptography systems will be safe for a while longer. I am not a mathematician, but I think it will not be that easy to take advantage of this proof and exploiting it (though the Russian mafia have been known to employ serious hackers, I think such an exploit will be beyond them - for the time being at least).
I simply fail to see any point in inviting teams like the United States to the ICC Champions Trophy. Much as the administrators of the game would wish, cricket is not (and will never be) a global game. Let's at least drop the pretense and make sure that all the matches are played among the few countries unfortunate enough to have taken the game seriously enough.

On a related note, Sevanti Ninan's latest column hits the nail on the head vis-a-vis the gobs of cash that cricket attracts:
Why does the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) need such obscene sums to hand out rights? Our cricketers are not exactly poverty stricken, but they will get 26 per cent of the board's gross revenue, we are told. The bidding has taken the price of international cricket rights within India, for four years, from Rs. 250 crores the last time around, to Rs. 1,400 crores! The Board says it will use the money for the development of cricket in the country. As our recent performance in the Olympics will show, it is all the other sports that are in need of being developed.
I think it is a safe bet to say that a sizeable fraction of the money earned from the telecast rights ends up in the hands of people who have no business even looking at it (this includes some of the cricketers as well).

Sunday, September 12, 2004

I have been spending a lot of time recently updating my music page. When I started this, I didn't think that I would get close to 100 songs, but unless I am more selective/discerning this figure looks likely. May be I'll have to spawn off a separate list called "Notable Mentions" and move some to this list.

On a side note, I think I am leaving a wealth of information in this page for someone do a psychoanalysis of my personality ;-)

Monday, September 06, 2004

If I see one more too-clever-by-half sig in a Slashdot comment, I am going to barf. Everybody wants to prove how cool, smart and funny they are, it's absolutely sickening. Sample: "This SIG pulled due to lack of funding. (This damn war is costing too much!)"

Update: I have started collecting these sigs. Once I have enough numbers, I am going to put them in my home page.