Thursday, August 23, 2007

Adieu to Conexant

Well, I finally got an Ethernet modem, and the much-loved Conexant-based USB modem was retired from service. Bittersweet feelings as I unhooked its cable and stored it in the cupboard (sentimental guy that I am, I ensured that the ISP guy didn't take it with him; turns out I had paid upfront for the modem, so there were no issues). Seems like my only connection to the modem is going to be my instructions page.


Political parties have a habit of taking out full page ads trumpeting their achievements during the first 'n' days in office ('n' is typically 100 days if you are ru[i|n]ning a state; 365 days if you have been given a mandate to screw over the whole country). If you pay close attention to these achievements, you'll find that more than half of these are not really achievements at all, since they are nothing more than statements of intent or, worse, hollow promises. Case in point: some of the 'achievements' of the Mayawati government:
  • Police administration given strict orders to protect people belonging to the poor and downtrodden sections of the Sarva Samaj

  • Decision taken to set up power plant
And, incredibly, these gems:
  • Demanded Rs.800 billion from the prime minister for a special development package for Bundelkhand and Purvanchal regions

  • Demanded Rs.22 billion from the central government for flood relief

So true

From an article about the intrusion of Blackberrys into our lives:
The mobile device was sold as a form of liberation: now your office can be the beach. The trouble is, it’s turned the beach into the office.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Granny's got a gun

It's all well to give guns to villagers for their protection, but who's there to protect these guys when the militants turn on them with doubled fury after one of their folks are finished off by a lucky shot from granny's gun? The disastrous Salwa Judum initiative in Chhattisgarh is a case in point.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

An 'Oops' Moment

Telling the IT support person that you are able to tunnel through the corporate firewall because he has opened port 22 for your machine's IP address, hearing that the port has not yet been opened, scratching your head in puzzlement, only to realise a second later that the tunnelling is possible because you were sneaky enough to install corkscrew in Cygwin, and keeping your fingers crossed that he doesn't probe further, and hanging up at the earliest chance you get...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Much as we appreciate your patriotism

... don't you think you can put your time to better use, like, I don't know, preparing for your frigging board examinations?


Somebody tells you to obey whatever instructions they give you, no matter what. Assume for the moment that, for some reason -- love, loyalty, respect, life-and-death situation, whatever -- you are willing to go ahead. The first instruction is for you to do something, and keep on doing it even if that person subsequently asks you to stop. You say OK, and proceed to do the thing, upon which he/she immediately cries for mercy and begs you to stop, saying that the thing you are doing is too painful. What do you do?

The obvious answer is to persist, because didn't the person ask you not to stop, no matter what? Not so fast. If you have go by the meta-instruction -- "Obey whatever instruction I give you" -- what prevents you from obeying the second instruction?

I don't think there is a logically sound answer to this [*]. I am at home on sick leave, so I don't have the energy to think this through, but things like self-referentiality, meta-levels, and the fact that it is impossible to completely answer the question "What is truth?" (maybe Godel's Theorem as well?) come to mind.

(Context: I am about 530 pages or so into Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the scene where Dumbledore and Harry Potter are attempting to destroy one of Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes. Sheepish grin).

[*] On second thoughts, there is a logically sound answer -- keep obeying the latest instruction till the requester drops dead or at least loses the ability to issue further instructions -- but this doesn't really serve the purpose.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Left is at it again

...running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. They will oppose the 123 Agreement, but if it comes to a vote, they will walk out of the house, in effect an abstention:
Communist Party of India (Marxist) Members of Parliament will walk out if there is a vote on the 123 agreement with the United States, as sought by the Bharatiya Janata Party, according to veteran Marxist leader Jyoti Basu.

“We are critical of the nuclear deal …but will walk out in the event of a vote on it,” Mr. Basu said after a meeting of the party’s State Secretariat. He reiterated the Left parties’ demand for a discussion in Parliament on the agreement.
And you guys wonder why you have zero credibility?

Dolphin Smalltalk discontinued

Considering that they had to compete with the 800 pound gorilla that is Visual Studio , it is to their credit they hung in there for so long.

BTW, their intense dislike of OSS is surprising; it's OK to believe that the OSS model is fundamentally flawed and is at odds with viable commercial software development, but the intensity of the dislike is a bit, well, intense.