Friday, March 31, 2006

Service Oriented Architecture

I have spent the better part of the last two days working on an FAQ for Service Oriented Architecture, as part of an effort to help my group understand what it's all about. Truly a unique experience, I must say. I had to set aside my not-so-charitable opinions about SOA and put on my most expansive pseudo-evangelist smile as I blathered on about how SOA is more than just web services, how you may already have an SOA and not know it (God, that makes it sound like it's an STD), and so on.

Who knows, if nothing much comes of the FAQ, I might even release it out into the wild and watch with glee as it gets mauled by a pack of disgruntled programmers.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Loose Change

Well, it looks like Google Video has been made available in India.

First, must-watch video: Loose Change

Friday, March 24, 2006

How to create a torrent and share your seed

Practise celibacy for six months.

(You expect me to see a title like that and let it go?)

Gnome peeves

[Note: I plan to keep adding to this post as I go along. I may have become inured to the KDE way of doing things, so I am going to persist with Gnome 2.14 for a while more.]
  1. There is no way to set the font for the time/date display in the panel.

  2. The date occupies premium space in the panel by appearing adjacent to the time instead of below it.

  3. Most of the configuration dialog boxes have no 'Apply' button, but directly apply the changes

  4. There is no option for a slideshow of wallpapers by specifying a directory of images.

  5. The option to toggle desktop icons is not available in the context menu when you right-click on the desktop. You have to invoke the Configuration Editor and dig into the settings to do this.

  6. Nautilus opens new windows for each folder as I navigate into a folder hierarchy.


Admiral J.G.Nadkarni (retd) has written an op-ed piece in DC in support of legitimising middlemen in arms deals. Going by its contents and the logic employed, I am glad that he has retired from the navy and no longer has any say in the way defence matters are being run.

The essay starts by incorrectly comparing these middlemen to dealers in car showrooms and travel agents. This comparison then neatly segues into kickback territory by including the shady operators in the RTOs who enable people to bypass the system and obtain driving licenses illegally. The implication being that people in the first category are no different from those in the second.

He then argues that ever since the government has banned these middlemen, the defence establishment has found it very difficult to obtain spare parts, since the middlemen performed this service admirably when they were allowed to ply their trade. What a load of crock. If you buy something from somebody, it is only reasonable to expect them to provide after-sales service and support; there is no role here for the middleman. It's not like it's very difficult for the arms manufacturers to do this on their own.

Next comes this:
The embargo on dealers is based on a number of myths. It is generally believed that agents bribe their way to procure orders ... While this may be true, the elimination of middlemen will not stop corruption. There are even major bribes when governments deal with each other.
So it's not really a myth. Also, if we eliminate middlemen, at least some of the corruption would go away? Sounds like a good deal to me.

Finally, there is this gem:
If the government is confident about the integrity of its staff where is the question of corruption?
I believe this is called 'the fallacy of many questions'.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Here's a chance

...for Tendulkar to turn things around and shut his critics up once and for all: a match-winning century tomorrow. The non-believer in me pipes in that he won't, though.

Humphrey is dead?

Who is Humphrey? He's not a person? Oh, you mean he's a cat? A very special cat? In what way? I see, he was a politician's pet? 10, Downing Street, you say? Very impressive. Did he die there? No? Did he live there recently? Oh, you mean to say he used to live there, but Tony Blair kicked him out in 1997? Now, since he wasn't living there since 1997, do you think it's really honest to say that Downing Street will no longer be free of mice? I'm sorry, what was that again? I'm afraid you'll have to speak up, I can't really make out what you are saying when you hang your head and mumble like that.

Gnome 2.14

I am currently engaged in a mini-project of sorts: build Gnome 2.14 using Garnome. I started this on Saturday morning, and three days later, I still do not know how far I have progressed. But I feel much more in control of the process this time as compared to my aborted attempt about a year and a half ago. However, the compile was (is) not that straightforward, though; there was this really unique error, which was not fixed by installing some package, or fixing something else and rerunning make; instead, I had to keep running make again and again (four times, actually) until the error was fixed. The error had something to do with the 'no' command not being found; there is a web page somewhere which explains why this approach works, but I'm too tired to find and link to it.

I had wanted to make a note of all such interesting things so that I can record them here, but none of them come to mind right now. Maybe later.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Movie Review: Just Like Heaven

Just Like Heaven is a very good movie, except for the contrived ending. I don't like Reese Witherspoon very much, and I was a bit pissed off on seeing that she was the lead actress (I knew practically nothing about the movie except its title when I walked into the theatre). The hospital scene at the beginning didn't do much to change my opinion either.

However, things improve once she makes her appearance as a 'spirit', and the scenes involving her and Mark Ruffalo really sparkle.

Goof (sorta): How is Elizabeth able to physically control David in the bar when it has been shown earlier that she has no ability to interact with solid objects?

Goof (real): When Elizabeth tries to get David to sleep with the hot neighbour, you can see the microphone at the top of the frame.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Never give up

Watching South Africa chase down successfully the humongous target of 434 yesterday has had a deeper impact on me than I thought.

Yesterday's match was one of the very few times when Life says "This is the situation; the odds of you overcoming it are, like, one gazillion to one, so why don't you just curl up and die?", and though the pragmatist in you knows, in your heart of hearts, that Life is correct, after all, and why don't you just accept things and not dare to dream of glory and success, somewhere inside you there is a kernel of irrationality that says Screw it, I am going for it, and you go for it, and then it's seven needed off the last over, then it's two off three balls, and finally it's one off two, and then the ball is racing towards the long on boundary and you have done it...

I know that the inexorable law of averages will assert itself with a vengeance and the euphoria will not last long, but while it does, I am going to play myself some Diamonds and Guns, Land Down Under and Happy People and be a Believer for just a little while.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Google Video Tip

Google Video isn't available for India yet, but since the decision to serve the video or not is based on the requester's IP address, you can pass this check by using Privoxy and Tor so that the request seems to come from some other IP address [*]. But the speed takes a hit, though.

[*] This assumes that the Tor node is from a country that is currently served. Probably a fair assumption to make.

Best One Day International Ever

Australia434/4 (50 overs)
South Africa438/9 (49.5 overs)

I guess the ghosts of World Cup '99 can now be laid to rest.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Quote of the day

(Steve) Jobs is so anal-retentive he probably awakens each night wondering if anal-retentive should be hyphenated, or not...
-- from a COLA post

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Five reasons why I think The Da Vinci Code is a piece of crap

[Warning: spoilers ahead if you are one of the lucky few who have not yet read the book]
  1. For such riveting prose (Langdon has just learned that he is to be accused of murder and is trying to escape from the museum):
    Langdon looked displeased. "I'll meet you there on one condition," he replied, his voice stern.

    She paused, startled. "What's that?"

    "That you stop calling me Mr. Langdon."

    (Sophie) felt herself smile back.
    (I still get goosebumps when I read this)

  2. Sophie's grandmother and brother are living in Scotland in a well-known place, one that Sophie would very likely visit in her professional capacity, and yet she has no idea about them.

  3. After dispelling the reader's suspicions that Sophie might have a royal bloodline, finally revealing that the reader's suspicions were in fact well-founded. That was indeed a cheap trick to pull.

  4. For going out of the way to stay on the right side of Opus Dei, while using them as a whipping boy.

  5. Dude, why don't you decide once and for all whether you are a suspense thriller writer or a Simon Singh wannabe?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Two interesting news items from DC

The first one is a contender for tongue-in-cheek-report-of-the-day; it's about the canines that are part of Bush's Secret Service:
Sources have confirmed that these dogs, with ranks of sergeant-major, first lieutenant, second lieutenant, third lieutenant and fourth lieutenant, will have rooms on the same floor on which President Bush is likely to stay ... "We were told to be careful while addressing the animals and not call them dogs. These sniffer dogs are an integral part of the US President's security team. We have been instructed to address them as per their ranks," said a member of the Maurya Sheraton hotel staff ... It could not be ascertained whether Indian policemen would be required to salute these sniffer dogs.
The other news item is from the sports page. It looks like a correspondent has reported on an off-the-record conversation that he had (more likely overheard) with ex-England captains Hussain and Atherton where they question Flintoff's leadership qualities:
Then the topic shifted to Flintoff and the mantle of captaincy that has fallen on him. Hussain shrugged off by stating that he is no good for the job and Athers shook his head in the affirmative.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Mystery Solved

If all goes well, I will be in possession of a free USB drive from the Evil Empire in about six to eight weeks' time.

(I wanted to post the image of Garfield with an evil grin, but couldn't locate a suitable image)

Faux news item of the day

(In other news) India hooked up a generator to Gandhi's spinning body and shortly afterwards announced they no longer needed the US civilian nuclear power deal.
-- Michael Rivero on Bush laying a wreath at Raj Ghat

[Never mind that Gandhi was cremated :-)]


My IBM ThinkCentre has been freezing at least a couple of times a week, ever since I wiped the OEM hard drive that came with it and installed Linux on it. I don't think the problem is related to Linux because I encounter this with all the three distros I have (Mandriva, Suse and Kubuntu). I felt that a BIOS upgrade might fix things, so I paid a visit to the IBM site. This site contains the bootable disk and ISO image versions of the upgrade program, but you first need to download and run a Windows executable to create either the bootable diskette or the ISO image. What if you are not running Windows? Is the assumption that if you are not running Windows, you must then be knowledgeable enough to know about things like Wine?

If there is a technical reason why a direct download of the ISO image cannot be provided, I can't figure out what that might be. Does the executable they provide dynamically generate the ISO image based on a scan of my hardware?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Is this the Indian equivalent of

The newspapers are all chockful of budget-related items, but this post is not about any of them. Instead, we will focus our attention on the IIPM ad (yes, it's a full page ad; do you even have to ask?) that shares the space with the budget analyses; in particular, let's look at one of the essays in the ad. Here's a quote from the essay:
We live in a country where democracy is a farce, however much anyone sings artificial praises of a democracy called India. Who then is being penalised the most in this pseudo-democracy? Well, arguably the business community. They are the favourite exploitees of the political community and the bureaucrats... And they are the ones whose buildings can be demolished most cruelly and ruthlessly...