Sunday, July 30, 2006

Movie Review: The Inside Man

Easily the best movie I've seen this year. No special effects, no slick production values (frankly, some of the scenes are quite mediocre), but a great story and some cracking dialogue. I really hated Clive Owen in King Arthur, but he redeems himself in this one. Wearing a mask and hood most of the time probably helped, too. For once, Denzel Washington comes off second best.

Not going to say anything about the story; I am too sleepy to ensure that my post will not contain any spoilers.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Never really knew folks could dance like this

I watched three spoofs of Shakira's Hips Don't Lie, and while one of them is absolutely hilarious, there's this other one where everyday (but really hot) folks profess the integrity of their hips. I haven't seen the original video, but here's a suggestion: release this video as an alternate and watch it take off on the charts; it's that good.

BTW, I know that this goes against everything I stand for, but a side effect of watching these spoofs multiple times is that I have started liking the song as well. While I consider Shakira incredibly sexy, I hadn't really paid much attention to her music. Now I am.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Sound of Silence

The only thing missing from the Linux setup in my laptop was games, so I fired up Adept and rectified the situation. After playing a few rounds of Nibbles and Patience, and a bit of surfing, I tried playing some music, and found that there was no sound. This was not a problem with Amarok alone; even XMMS and Kaffeine seemed to be afflicted. The surprising thing was that there were no error messages, either from the UI, the console, or even the system logs.

My only experience with resolving sound issues in Linux is 'killall artsd' and switching between ALSA, OSS, etc., but none of these tricks helped this time. I narrowed things down somewhat by booting from the Kubuntu LiveCD and checking whether the sound worked (it did, so the problem is definitely not hardware-related).

Going to look into this tomorrow.

Update: Problem solved, sort of. I installed ALSA from the sources and fiddled around with gnome-volume-control, and the sound came back. Only thing is, there is a constant hiss from the speakers and an occasional high-pitched whine. The sound of my keystrokes also are faithfully reproduced by the speakers. Wait a minute, is it because of the mic volume? It is! Turned it down, and I am again able to type in peace.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Mystic Microsoft

I am reading Kraig Brockschmidt's autobiography, and this paragraph at the very end of Chapter 4 caught my attention:
For me, total acceptance of my situation helped me let go of what I thought my career should look like, and once I let go, the right things started happening almost without effort. It wasn't long before I was able to look back on my "failure" and know that I just wouldn't have had it any other way.
I've been grappling with this question for quite some time: Does the universe only wish the best for us, and any setbacks that we face are really course corrections that set us on truly happier paths, or is it just that our brains/minds are hardwired to make the best of a situation -- so that we are spared the agony of painfully lingering over what happened?

To be fair, there have been instances in my life which, in retrospect, were really for the best, but can this be attributed to a benevolent universe instead of random chance?

I guess it's ultimately a question of faith.


If everything could ever feel this real forever
If anything could ever be this good again

I watched Foo Fighters' Everlong video last night, courtesy of the 100 Best Music Videos of All Time. The video is not that great, actually, but the song? Probably the single most adrenalin-pumping thing I've heard, except for maybe Goo Goo Dolls' Long Way Down.

The thing is, I have The Color and the Shape somewhere in my collection, but I haven't even thought of this song in ages. All the more reason to convert the rest of my tapes to MP3.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Indian government blocking

I think the authorities will come to their senses soon (assuming that the story is true, that is). Anyway, I am able to access blogspot sites by using Tor.

The funny thing is, the Boing Boing page contains links to helpful pages that supposedly tell you how to bypass this block, but these pages themselves are from a blogspot site.

BTW, the Torbutton Firefox extension is *way* better than SwitchProxy.

You know you are in the wrong profession

... when you sit through a presentation that contains an architecture diagram with pretty boxes in five different colours, with arrows going hither and thither, and everybody is smugly congratulating one another on how wonderfully SOA-compliant the whole thing is, and then somebody brings up non-functional requirements and how all responses should be sub-second, and everybody looks at each other, and concur that, yeah, in such 'special' cases maybe we should bypass the calls to the Enterprise Service Bus and collocate the business/service/component layers, and maybe the servlets should directly call the fricken business objects...


Sunday, July 16, 2006


I installed Windows in my laptop yesterday using VMWare. I installed the driver for my ADSL modem, and proceeded to download and install the things you cannot run Windows without: Firefox, ZoneAlarm, AntiVir, etc. Only problem was, before connecting to the Internet, I had to physically pull out the modem cable from the USB port and plug it back in, in order to force the (Linux) cxacru driver to relinquish control over the modem. Not willing to settle for such a hack every time I booted Windows -- rare though such occurrences may be -- I decided to try to make Windows use my already running instance of Privoxy as a proxy server. Bzzt. Found that Privoxy was listening on, which cannot be accessed by the virtual network interface helpfully set up by VMWare for the Windows virtual machine. I could, of course, change the Privoxy listen-address to that at the Linux end of the virtual interface, but somehow this didn't feel right.

Here's where the mystery comes in: just for the heck of it, I booted Windows and started Firefox without pointing it to any proxies, and I was able to connect to the Internet. What gives? Not that I'm complaining.

Movie Review: The Da Vinci Code

Some books, even good ones, don't make the transition to moviehood that well. That being the case, considering what a piece of crap the book was, I guess I shouldn't really be surprised by how badly the movie sucked.

There was no evidence that the lead actor had won three Best Actor Oscars. But Tom Hanks (who, BTW, looks like Quentin Tarantino on steroids) can't really be blamed, what with the poor quality of the material he had to work with. And the less said about Audrey Tatou the better. Is she the same pert and endearing girl that I liked so much in Amelie?

I didn't mind the innumerable and lengthy digressions in the novel where one of the characters (or even the author) launched into monologues about this and that -- the novel had far worse things to bitch about -- but these digressions don't sit well in the movie at all. Couldn't a better way of conveying this information have been found? A summary at the beginning, a voice-over, etc.?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Here's where all the Zen training comes in handy

  1. I mistakenly assumed that the final would start at the same time as the earlier matches. Set the alarm for 12:25 AM and went to sleep, only to be woken up at 11:50 or so by shouts of joy from next door. Hurriedly jumped out of bed and switched on the TV, to find that the match had been in progress for 20 minutes, and that I had missed two goals.

  2. The power went off shortly. The inverter mercifully kicked in, and I was able to continue watching the match.

  3. Spent a miserable hour and a half, fearing the worst every time France looked like they would overrun Italy's defences.

  4. Bittersweet moment as Zidane gets red-carded. Good for Italy, but man, what a way for Zizou to bid adieu.

  5. Just as the penalties are about to get underway, the inverter's batteries finally run out of juice.

  6. I spend the next ten minutes or so in pitch darkness, listening to my neighbours' shouts of joy as they cheer the result of each penalty kick (did I mention that everybody in our street have electricity except me?).

  7. There is a final, humongous celebration all around as one team is finally left standing.

  8. There is a stoic smile on my face as I shake my head, switch off the dead TV and lights, and return to bed.

  9. Just before I fall asleep, it strikes me that, had I not had my laptop on for the duration of the match, the inverter's batteries might very well have lasted another 15 minutes, and that I could have seen Italy lift the Cup. Oh well.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


I didn't watch the Germany-Portugal match. For one thing, the third-place playoff match is so pointless; I also didn't want to make the Monday morning blues worse by staying up late for two nights in a row. I missed saying goodbye to Figo, but to be fair, though I have great respect for him, he's not on the same level as Zidane for me.

Dear David McGowan

It's been three months since your last essay. Please, please release stuff more often. Putting up an RSS/Atom feed for your site wouldn't hurt, either :-)

Movie Review: Superman Returns

The movie was too long, Superman's expressions were plastic, Kevin Spacey's lines were quite run-of-the-mill, the world domination plot was so is-that-all-you-can-come-up-with ...

I am willing to overlook all of these things, if someone can explain to me how, by just donning a simple pair of spectacles, Clark Kent is able to fool everybody and disguise the fact that he is Superman. It's not even the case that he is a shadowy figure whom only a few people have laid eyes on -- he stands around grinning idiotically and posing for cameras as he holds up the giant Daily Planet globe, for God's sake (not to mention having his mug beamed on giant screens in sports stadiums all the time).

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Del Piero is one of my all-time favourites, but ...

Dude, get a grip:
Alessandro Del Piero, who scored the second goal in the 2-0 semi-final win over Germany, has taken to comparing himself to mythic heroes. Asked why he didn't talk to reporters before the tournament, he gave a unique response. "I went up on my hill to think like Achilles did before war," he said. "It's not important to me how many wars I fight, but how I fight them."

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Italy 2 - 0 Germany

I had almost reconciled myself to penalties (with Germany the odds-on favourite to get through with their clinical efficiency) when Grosso scored.

I know that the feeling is very fleeting, and the joy I experienced will be but a distant memory in about a week's time, but for one instant it felt like I'd died and gone to heaven.

And just when you thought it couldn't get any better, Del Piero goes and scores a humdinger of a second goal.

I don't even care if the Italians lose in the final. They've given me something to remember for the rest of my life.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Brazil 0 - 1 France

Only the fact that Zidane gets one more chance at World Cup glory mitigates the sadness of Brazil's exit. To be fair, Brazil seem to have too many superstars for their own good (a certain top-flight Spanish club comes to mind, as well).

Yet another affirmation that you cannot take anything for granted in football, especially the World Cup.

Movie Review: X-Men: The Last Stand

Though the movie ought to be remembered for its great action sequences, the one thing that stays in your mind long after the rest of the stuff is forgotten is the betrayal at the end. Though it's for a good cause, it still hits you hard and leaves a bad taste. I guess that's what good cinema is all about (I never thought I'd use 'good cinema' and 'X-Men' in the same sentence, but there you go).

Movie Review: MI-3

Good action, but not great. One thing missing was the high-tech plotting and scheming to get at a goodie that is protected in a Fort Knox like environment (though Cruise gets to do his dangling-from-a-cable-inches-from-the-ground bit in another scene).

On the whole, a *lot* more watchable than MI-2, with it's over-reliance on action sequences at the expense of everything else.

Got myself a laptop, finally

It's an Acer 1641, straight out of the box except for the additional 256 Meg RAM and an external Microsoft mouse. Running Kubuntu on it; installation and hardware detection was a breeze. Only thing left is to hook up my Epson CX4500, but don't foresee any problems there.