19 October 2007

GMail inside and outside

After the recent news of Google increasing the rate of increase of the GMail quota I noticed that the quota had indeed increased from about 2900MB to 2770MB. Today I found out something new regarding GMail quota: GMail's main page shows higher value for the quota than when you are actually logged into the system. Below are the screen captures from the two states: without login and after login showing a difference of a full 100MB. I wonder why there exists the disparity!

13 September 2007

7 September 2007

Massa Drives for McLaren?

Am I understanding it in a wrong way or did BBC make a mistake in the news item. The screenshot is from the first day report of the practice session at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. The relevant part is highlighted in the screenshot. Shouldn't it have been "Kimi Raikkonen pipped Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa" ?

Anyway, its Monza ..... Go Ferrariiiiiiiiii

5 September 2007

The iPodTouch

Now this is something which made me drool over it. The wifi should have been there long ago. The best thing about it is that it doesn't require activation through AT&T. Does it sync with iCal, iPhoto, etc.? Also, what about its battery? Is it hard to change as it is with the iPhone?

25 June 2007

Yahoo! Mail Storage

Saw this today on Yahoo! Mail. \0/\0/\0/ No storage limits \0/\0/\0/. Take that Gmail :p

8 June 2007

Camera RAW editors for Linux

Consider this: You have a camera that can shoot in RAW format and you are a Linux user. How do you manage/edit your RAW images on your Linux machine? Below is a quick rundown of RAW editors for Linux(I have tried only a few of them yet) which I have found over the last few days (add comment if I missed any).

Rawstudio is an open source software based on the GTK+ interface and reads all RAW format images supported by dcraw. It can export you RAW images to TIF, PNG and JPEG formats. It also supports colour management using Little CMS. Currently available version is 0.5.1 along with nightly subversion checkouts. From the releases the project looks around year old.

blueMarine is also an open source project available under an Apache License. Requires Java 5 JDK. It supports Nikon .NEF, Canon .CRW and .CR2, Adobe .DNG, Pentax .PEF, Minolta .MRW, Olympus .ORF, Sony .SRF and support for other RAW camera formats is in the plans. The latest release is 0.9.EA9.1768 and they also warn that blueMarine is in beta status. It is not intended yet for production. Please check out the project status before proceeding. Supports OpenRaw.

Qtpfsgui is basically an HDR imaging workflow GUI software. It also supports various camera RAW formats, JPEG, PNG, TIFF and PPM formats. Qtpfsgui is an open source project made available under the GPL v2 license. Uses dcraw(?).

Raw Therapee is a freeware but is uses dcraw(OSS) in the background to read camera RAW formats. Being based on dcraw it supports all formats supported by dcraw. Although loading RAW images isn't too intuitive the first time, practice to use the software brings out its features. The best thing I like about it is that changes to the raw images are listed on the left sidebar. You can always "go" to an earlier stage of the RAW image by double clicking on one of the changes in the sidebar change list.

Bibble, the much acclaimed camera RAW editor runs on Linux too. It isn't free but you can download a demo version which is supposed to work for 30 days. Full versions costs $129 (Pro) and $69 (Lite). It supports most major camera RAW formats and features fast RAW conversion, noise removal by Noise Ninja technology, multithreaded processing support, work queues, and a whole gamut of other features. Supports OpenRAW.

Just like blueMarine, Lightzone is Java based but isn't open source. Version 2.4 is available for free (latest release is v3.0) although the company does not offer any support for Linux whatsoever. I don't know if it is the Java or my machine (PIV 2.0GHz) that Lightzone had a bit sluggish response to my actions. Loading the application takes its time and so does loading a RAW image (.crw - Canon RAW). Feature wise it offers all the basic ones available in a decent RAW editor application. It also supports various colour profiles but I wasn't able to point it to my hidden color profile folder from the preferences. Its file picker doesn't seem to have a way to see hidden folders. Seems to use dcraw to read various camera RAW formats.

There are other applications which do support reading camera RAW but are either not full featured or do not focus on the single goal - camera RAW editing.

digikam, the main KDE photo library software, supports camera RAW and also supports colour profiles using Little CMS. It is able to give fast previews of RAW images (uses dcraw) but its RAW image editor is quite basic in that one has to click on the preview button to see what the effect of the changes just made was!

f-spot also supports camera RAW images and its versioning feature makes it easy to make edits without changing the original (ala a real RAW editor application).

Google's Picasa is also known to support camera RAW formats. However, as it uses Wine and Mozilla technologies to run on Linux, I wasn't even bothered to give it a try.

krita, gimp support camera RAW formats (gimp needs dcraw plugin) but they are both more photo editing applications than RAW editors. I would place krita and gimp inbetween full featured RAW editors like RAWstudio, RawTherapee, blueMarine, Bibble, etc. and photo management applications like digikam and f-spot.

I have tried RawTherapee, Bibble Pro and Lightzone2.4. Bibble looks good and I don't know if Lightzone is offering version 3.0 for Linux users. RAWstudio seems to be developing into a decent application too. dcraw looks like the library of choice with RawTherapee, Lightzone, and RAWstudio using it for camera RAW support.

2 June 2007

state.gov oblivious of Firefox?

What happens if you are a Linux user with Firefox and have scheduled a non-immigrant visa for the U.S.A? Well, you end up unable to fill up the DS-156 visa application with your computer running Linux!

After you get your appointment date fixed (online) you are informed that you need to fill up the DS-156 form (no handwritten versions allowed). But if you go to evisaforms.state.gov and you are using anything other than IE or Netscape as your browser, you are out of luck. I used Firefox (both Debian's Iceweasel and mozilla.org's Firefox) to access the page and was warned that my browser does not meet the minimum requirements. Below you can see a screenshot of the warning window.

As a matter of fact Firefox does support 128bit encryption (actually much more than that) and I also have the Acrobat Reader plugin installed (version 7.0). The problem here is the sniffing code on their website. The code just checks for IE5.0SP2 or later and for Netscape 6 or later. There is absolutely no sniffing going on for Firefox (neither Windows nor Linux) which is used by more than 10% of web surfing users (> 15% in the USA). The Acrobat plugin code is written in such a way that it will never say that your Firefox has the plugin installed.

If you carry on and fill up the DS-156 form, you will be taken back to main page without any of your form data being processed for the final pdf file. I tried to fill the form twice thinking that the first time there might be some session time limit which I over ran. Finally, I had to borrow someone's laptop with Windows OS on it and used Internet Explorer to get the form in pdf!

The result of the low quality code used for the site results in Firefox users not being able to get the .pdf for DS-156 after filling up the form. Windows users can still use Internet Explorer but Linux users are left completely helpless. How is it that US Department of State is oblivious of the existence of Firefox and that there are other operating systems than Windows too?

I wonder if Matt Frei used Firefox to setup his visa renewal appointment.

25 May 2007

Addon of the Week

In an effort to increase the awareness of Firefox Addons, Addon of the Week has been started. There are already a couple of addons featured on AOTW. Initial plans are to have one addon of the week featured on AOTW. Smaller addons can be featured in between the regular AOTW publishing cycle. If anyone wants to write an article for AOTW, signup there and leave a comment.

16 May 2007

Google changes search interface?

Google changed its interface? The new look is only on the google.com site for now. The .ca, .fr, .co.uk, etc. are the usual blue bands. Update: The new interface is due to their combining of various search types they had e.g. web, images, news, etc. They are also supporting a toolbar at the top for various services.

Its so polished that it looks too shiny to me. The shiny bar gives a very Web2.0 feel than the earlier more pleasing colours. Blue band felt plain and simple.

1 May 2007

Digg makes HD DVD key famous

Digg did something they probably thought would be a one time thing and removed some story someone submitted on their system. But hey, they kind of forgot that Digg is basically a site which is powered by user submitted content. And after a while they have every chicken raising its head and speaking out some weird number in decimal, hexadecimal, binary, and other formats. The topic has become so popular on Digg that 8 of their Top 10 in Technology stories are about the hot topic. The other two are about Joost and the beautiful Posh Suicide. Screen capture added for your convenience. Update: While writing the post, Joost and dear Posh's stories have fallen from 5th and 6th to 7th and 8th position respectively. Update2: Withing half an hour after writing this post, all top 10 are about the same topic! New screen capture added.

So what I can gather from this is that Digg itself is making the HD DVD key famous. So much for taking out a story due to what ever reasons they had for doing that!

Update: Whole of front page is full of stories about the newly famous hex combination. The whole thing has snow balled into stories with header like Jesus has "the key",Digg deleted my hard drive for posting the HD-DVD KEY!, and the most hilarious one is Secret Code To Remove Lara Craft's Clothes in Tomb Radier Legends!. Very ingenious titles to get user's attention.


Is this is prime number? Looks like one.


Just a simple string ;)

Update: this story was dugg more than 180 times and now has been axed off Digg system!! Didn't last for even a couple of hours on Digg.

Debian on MacBook Pro - Docs

The first draft of the procedure for installing Debian on a USB disk connected to a MacBook Pro is up. You can find it here. Leave a comment for improvements and pointers.

I haven't had the time to setup the hardware e.g. mousepad, wireless, backlight, etc. to work in Debian yet. But that information can easily be found on wiki.d.o. The page will be updated as I try the tricks.

29 April 2007

Debian/Lenny on MacBook Pro USB

I had been trying to install Linux on a 1GB USB flash drive connected to my MacBook Pro (MBP) since the past few months. Although there are several places describing how to do it using either Boot Camp or by resizing the hard disk partitions, my sole requirement was no changes to the Mac OS X installed on the hard disk.

Boot Camp was out of question as its main aim is to help install Windows by providing drivers for the Mac hardware. The other option was using rEFIt and resizing the hard disk. I had tried this earlier with mactel-linux patches for the kernel and was able to get a login prompt but no video. That process involved several steps using debootstrap and compiling the kernel with the patches.

However, with the release of Debian 4.0 (Etch), the debian-installer also got a lot of attention and installs a relatively new 2.6.18 kernel. So armed with a netinstall d-i CD (23 April build, 26th doesn't recognize network card) I was able to install Debian Testing (Lenny) on the USB disk with XFCE4 as the desktop environment with 130MB of swap space partition and 157MB to spare after installing dillo web browser.

The installation of Lenny on the USB flash disk has not required any change on the internal MBP hard disk and the Mac OS X installation is completely oblivious of the Debian install. If I don't press the "Option" button at boot time, Mac OS X boots up, otherwise with the USB connected it asks which OS to boot.

Next post gives the link for installation steps. The process was based on information gathered mainly from the Debian wiki's Macbook and Macbook Pro pages, and also here.

16 April 2007

Merry Springmas

Current forecast shows light snow and so does the view in my window. And it is 16th of April today! Merry Springmas everyone.

Historical data says that maximum and minimum temperatures in April are 11°C and 1°C with a mean of 6°C. The current deviation in temperature isn't huge then. However, on the snow and rain front the weatherman says that there will be around 10-15cm of snow and 10-15cm of rain from Sunday overnight to Monday overnight! Historically, 10cm of more rain happens in April for only 2 days whereas no day sees more than 5cm of snow in April. In 2007, there will be at least 1 day recorded with around 10cm of snow.

10 April 2007

Checking Firefox Version

I am trying to write a script in Javascript* which would inform a visitor's using Firefox if they are running an older version. Although Firefox does automatically check if there is an update and informs the user, I have seen visitors with versions like 0.8, 1.0.x, 1.5.y (y<11),>

Automatic updates are helpful for home users at least as corporate users might not have the rights to upgrade their software without administrator access. However, informing them with a visual warning on a web page could help in avoiding potential problems of using vulnerable versions.

Presently, the script checks the CVS branch tag i.e. rv: value with a hard coded value and prints a warning for users with older versions. Is there any way that the hard coded value(s) can be acquired automatically from say mozilla.org server and checked with visitor's user agent information? I don't know much about AJAX but would it be helpful in this case? No AJAX compatibility issues as the only browser we are checking is Firefox.

* - using Javascript because it runs client side, is available to all Firefox users and those who have disabled Javascript would most likely not need the warning to know it.

8 April 2007

Its Out!

After a delay of about 5months, Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 codenamed Etch has finally been released. This release comes 22 months after Sarge was released. Other major happenings in the Debian world were the Sarge update 3.1r6 and electing of Sam as the new Debian Project Leader. Now the craziness begins as updates with new packages will fall in to unstable and testing branches.

I will be continuing my Debian party when this finishes.


Colours 1

Colours at one of the many customs preceding a traditional wedding.

29 March 2007

"The" Butterfly

I saw this on Inkscape.org where they had a news snippet about Juan Miguel Ramirez who wrote an article in the Spanish version of Linux magazine. From the GPL stick and the 4 colored butterfly I got and idea and the result was as show above, the tux trying to save Suse from the "butterfly".

Original idea of artwork: Juan Miguel Ramirez

28 March 2007

Browser Stats

Glazou started this. Here are the browser statistics for 2007 (till today) on my dynamic DNS host:

  1. Gecko ----- 56.2%
  2. MSIE ------ 31.4%
  3. KHTML --- 8.1% (Safari 7.1%)
  4. Opera ----- 2.6%

This just reflects the distribution of visitors on the dynamic host and should not be considered for browser popularity calculations. Higher percentage of Gecko is due to most of the stuff being about Mozilla and GNU/Linux. Safari's ratio is probably due to the a few desktop background images I put up for free download. But I noticed that IE 7 already has an update with version number 7.0.5730.11. Seems that the IE team is really working on it now ;)

27 March 2007

Google: Canada's Not a Real Country Anyway

We must blame them and cause a fuss
Before somebody thinks of blaming us!

Did you ever hear about the South Park song called "Blame Canada"? You can find some details about it on wikipedia or even viewtube™ the song as performed by Robin Williams during the Academy Awards ceremony.

The Know All Google seems to have heard this song too and did some of its part for the blame game. If you go to Google Maps and try to search for a country called Canada, all you get is a flattened out map of earth! Does Google even know where Canada is? I think it is just trying to prove the line in the lyrics that "They're not even a real country anyway" because it cannot find Canada on Earth!

It can find other regular countries like Britain, Germany, France, India, etc. So why not Canada? Is it time to blame Google instead of Canada ;)


Halloween Decorations

I know its not Halloween season, but I found this lovely picture which I took last year. This is the Halloween decorations at a bakery nearby. Enjoy.

26 March 2007

Up, Up and Away

Taller than the Rest

This is a common sight when we have clouds. The building at PVM goes beyond the limits and into the clouds while the IBM, CGI, and CSC building stand there staring at it!

24 March 2007

Typepad hinders Typing!!

I usually love to rant about features in blogger making life difficult for users, but this post is different. Today I compared a feature on blogger with a similar one on typepad and guess which one sucked!

In this age of spam bots find different ways to put link spam in any place they can find, one commonly used technique to avoid them is the captcha technology. With this technology, a user trying to fill and submit a form is asked to fill in another field in the form with characters displayed in the corresponding image. The server generates a new image every time the page is loaded and most of the spam bots are incapable of deciphering the images. So as most of the spam bots cannot read the image, they can't fill in the verification and hence the post cannot be submitted. It is a pretty simple technique and has achieved a lot of success.

However, the technology has its flaws or should I say unintended captchas. Today I set out to log a comment on a typedpad blog post. It was a simple two line response which should have taken just a minute or so. However, I ended up trying to get the response submitted for about 10minutes! Their word verification captcha asked me to fill in the characters from the image. But the person who wrote the code for their captcha implementation probably didn't know how much to obscure the characters and has several random lines on it making it really hard to read even by a human let alone a bot! It took me 6 tries to get the verification done.

Not only they have made the verification task so confusing, but they don't give the user any other choice e.g. an audio clip! Wait, the audio clip should be there regardless as a visitor could be visually impaired and might not be able to decipher even an unobscured image. Blogger is much better in this respect as their image is clean (although the characters can be a bit jagged) and they also offer audio help (hasn't worked on Linux for me though). For TypePad it is a serious accessibility problem and is a big show stopper for me at least. So from now on, typepad comments are probably not going to happen let alone getting an account on typepad!

Update: June contacted Typepad and they told her that they are working on it. I hope they get it sorted out soon.

22 March 2007

Woolmer Update: MURDER

My first instinct made me very suspicious about Bob Woolmer's death in his hotel room following Pakistan's cricket teams loss to minnows Ireland and making them impossible to go to the second round. The Jamaican police has been tight lipped about any details about his death but finally a more sinister picture is emerging. BBC is reporting that medical reports say Woolmer died due to manual strangulation. The plot thickens as they haven't found any evidence of struggle indicating he knew the murder(s). With the scene changing from death due to a stroke to a murder, it is possible that the team's return trip might also be delayed.

Cricket is played with a passion in South Asia and there have been several matches which have been disrupted due to lackluster performance of a team inciting violent behaviour. A famous example is the India-Sri Lanka match at Eden Gardens during the 1996 World Cup which Sri Lanka won by default due the crowd's unruly behaviour. It is common for an inquiry commission to be setup after a series after one of the countries have played well below their potential. But this is a first that someone has every murdered a cricket team's coach and that too in a World Cup! I guess sending the elite commando units for the security of the Indian contingent was the right decision.

18 March 2007

Bob Woolmer Dies following loss

The very next morning after Pakistan's cricket team lost to Ireland and were ousted from ICC World Cup 2007, their coach Bob Woolmer, was found unconscious in his hotel room and was pronounced dead after an hour of attempts to revive him at the hospital. This is sad news and medical reports are awaited for the exact cause of death. Pakistan team's spokesperson Pervez Mir said that the third gave with Zimbabwe will be played as scheduled.

Very sad to see Woolmer go like this. He had coached South Africa in the 90s and they had reached the semi finals in the World Cups.

ICC World Cup: Big Upsets

So the end result of day 5 of the ICC World Cup(WC) was: 2 Big Upsets. Bangladesh played some wonderful cricket and stunned India in their WC opener. Bangladesh won by 5 wickets. While in Jamaica, it was the day of Green. Ireland not only beat Pakistan but knocked them out of the tournament no matter what the result of Pakistan's third group game.

For both India and Pakistan's teams my friend had an advice: If you can't show consistency in your game, stay at home and just do commercials. That way you have to perform only once, and its just a reply after that.

17 March 2007

St. Patrick's Day Possible Upset

With the recent uplift of the Irish team's confidence with the tied match with Zimbabwe in the ICC World Cup being held in the Windies, they are looking for a bigger upset on St. Patrick's Day. Pakistan's team is reeling at 68 for the loss of 5 wickets after 20 overs. Update: 73/6.

If the Irish follow up on this advantage and register a win, this would be the biggest upset of this World Cup and definitely the best St. Patrick's Day gift for them. Pakistan on the other hand is very strong in the bowling department and do have ability to topple wickets like dominoes. It is one day cricket, one never knows what will happen, and anything can happen. We will just have to wait and see...

These two teams make the cricket ground the greenest ever! Happy St. Patrick's Day to all.

16 March 2007

No Water :(

Unfortunately one of our building's water pumps decided to die today leaving most of the upper floor residents without any water supply. I didn't have any water stored barring two half litre water bottles which were good for drinking but nothing to wash hands or for the bathroom. Normally if they shut down the supply it is usually back on by around 5 or 6pm. However, the supply didn't return till late in the evening. A call to the janitor confirmed my fears that the pump wasn't fixed and the water supply will be back to normal only tomorrow.

So down I went to the basement to fetch water with the only bucket I have. On the way back up it occurred to me that I could fill up a plastic bin that I have for clothes. That could hold around 5-6 buckets. That made all my water scarcity worries go to rest as there is now water to drink in the filter, for washing hands and for the bathroom.

I just hope that they get the pump working by tomorrow evening as if they don't, it won't be a good weekend.

14 March 2007

Dell and Linux ? Hmm...

Just a quick note: Dell seems to be moving towards the idea of offering pre-installed Linux on notebooks and desktops. They are asking users interested in having Linux pre-installed to fill up a survey so that they can prioritize what they can offer. Go submit the survey and wait for Linux to be offered as a option for the installed OS on your next purchase.

Dell and Linux seems to good to be true. But hey, sometimes dreams come true too ;)

7 March 2007

Mac OS, SSH, Dashboad?

I can't seem to figure out which part of the process is the problem. If someone has any clues as to how to go about triaging the problem, please leave a comment.

When I am transferring something to the Macbook Pro from my Debian box using Konqueror (yep, with its wonderful fish:// protocol), if dashboard is enabled on the MBP, the ssh transfer comes to a halt. The problem goes away as soon as I get dashboard out of the way. The problem is reproducible using the above setup at will.

6 March 2007

No Words

Current weather conditions! Brrrr.....

1 March 2007

Blogger Login

Blogger, oh blogger. Please give us a better login page so that users don't have to to click twice just to bring the cursor to the username field. And it is worse for those like me who try to keep the use of the mouse to a bare minimum. To be able to get to the username field, I have to invoke the Find function of the browser to find the "New Blogger" link and then use the Tab button 3 times to get to the username field. If you want any ideas on how to make a login page, please check out Yahoo! Mail or even your own Google Mail where the caret lands in the username field automatically after the page loads!!

Linux for Everyone?

I have a strong feeling that we are getting very close to the point where Linux can be considered desktop ready for everyone. Even though I have seen things work flawlessly with Ubuntu installs on friends' laptops, my latest experience just made me WOW Linux ;)

I got a USB multimedia headset by Microsoft, the LX-3000. They are getting dirt cheap these days. I picked this one up for just $19.99+tx. Cheap, aren't they? Back on topic: although I wanted it to work with the Macbook Pro as it does not have a jack for a microphone and only a line-in, I thought why not try it with Linux too. I plugged it a USB port of my Linux box (Debian/sid) and tried playing some audio using XMMS but the sound came through the external speakers. Next thing was to check the /var/log/messages to see if Linux detected it or not. And....it did detect it. So I went into the XMMS's preferences, and I just had to select the proper device (indicated by messages in log) and it started to blast music immediately. I was pleasantly amazed when the mic also recorded sound like a normal mic. Perfect. Linux simply ROCKS!!

26 February 2007

Watering the Sun

Biella writes about a humourous piece from a book by John Morreal. I was reminded of a similar story from times long long ago.

"Nanak’s teachings are best understood against the backdrop of bhakti, the devotional movement which was then sweeping north and western India, and in the context of the ossification of both Hinduism and Islam into religious faiths which inculcated blind beliefs in their followers. During the course of his travels, Nanak reached Hardwar, where he encountered Brahmins who, while standing in the Ganga, were throwing water towards the sun to appease the souls of their ancestors. It is reported that Nanak bent down and began throwing water in the opposite direction, and when asked what he was doing, he replied that he was watering his fields in the Punjab. When his reply was met with derision, Nanak reportedly told the Brahmins that if the water they were sprinkling could reach the sun, then doubtless the water could also reach his fields, which were merely a few hundred miles away."

c.f. http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/southasia/Religions/gurus/GNanak.html

24 February 2007

Grip Rocks

I had an old audio CD which wasn't playing too well, so I thought of ripping it and burning a new one. Yesterday I ripped tracks 1 to 7, and the 8th track took around 3hrs. I started ripping of the 9th track around 15hours ago, and it is 41% done. I am using Grip to rip the CD and it has been chugging along bit-by-bit literally. I won't mind waiting another 24hours to get the 9th track ripped. Grip hasn't quit on the CD yet, so all I can say for it is that simply rocks.

Update: Finally, Grip has finished ripping the track taking about 38hours in all. I have the complete .wav file. Yippeeee :)

15 February 2007

Movie: Amu

Last night I went to see the movie Amu at a special screening at the Forum. Partly due to the weather conditions, there were only about 600 people at the multiplex watching the movies; 200 of them were watching Amu!

Amu is a movie[imdb.com] about a young American-Indian girl who goes to India to know about herself and her roots. She finds India very interesting but something disturbs here and she can't pinpoint the reason. But the tenacious girl keeps digging and finally ends confronting her own family about her real roots.

The director, Shonali Bose, has done a great job at portraying the what happened during the 1984 riots in Delhi, for which none of the main perpetrators has been brought to justice till now! The movie has been censored in India by the film board CBFC and also given an adult certificate (R rating). Censored dialogs can be found on Amu's website. Just like a pen can be stronger than a sword, silence can be more effective than words. Silence has been used for the censored parts and it goes great lengths into explaining the extent of the cover up even 23 years after the incident! A great effort by the director who has met with threats during the making of the movie. A must see.

The movie starts Friday, February 23 in the AMC Forum 22 in Montreal. Shonali Bose will be present during the release weekend for any questions you have about the movie. In Toronto the movie starts February 16 and Vancouver will be able to see it from February 23rd. The movie is English with a few dialogs in Bangla and Punjabi (subtitles are provided).

PS: The foreword from the report on the 1984 pogrom of Sikhs can be downloaded from here.

13 February 2007

-20°C and Fire

A fire happen to break out in the adjacent block. The fire fighters spent hours trying to contain the fire. No one died but there were a couple of shops/restaurants that were completely brought to rubbles and the adjacent restaurants and businesses were damaged by water/fire.

I was amazed to see the fire fighters out there with a temperature of around -20°C (would be even lower if you consider the windchill factor). My fingers were actually freezing while holding the camera and I had to put my hands in my pockets after every few pictures. Below you can see a few of the images which catch they eye and depict the extent of the fire and hard work by the firemen.

Smoke Column
Doesn't that look like a staircase?

Fighting Fire
Brave firemen fighting the fire

Fire Ice and Man
Fire on back of the building and ice on the front! Isn't that an antithetical situation?

More pictures here.

11 February 2007

Windows Vista

This is completely hilarious and ingenious:

My father heard about Vista coming on the news. Since he was interested in getting it, he asked me to obtain it and install it on his computer and he would give some cash in return. I told him I was going to do that, but instead I burned an Ubuntu CD and installed it.

Later, when he came home from work, I showed him his new "Vista" install, complete with the latest Office and Solitaire.

Well, it's been a few days since that and now he says Bill Gates is better than Steve Jobs and brags about how OS X on my iMac is obsolete compared to Vista on his PC.

I will continue with the prank for some weeks, after which I'll tell him the truth and give him back his money.

ref: http://www.degredo.net.

5 February 2007


You are cordially invited to enjoy the sunny days we are having ;). Unfortunately one has to be brave enough to get their fingers out even to take a picture (provided the battery doesn't die in those few seconds).

3 February 2007

Genuine Linux

I run a genuine copy of Linux. Do you?

2 February 2007

Dear Yahoo! [Mac]

I wonder why doesn't your Yahoo! News item work on my Safari browser! Clicking on a video news item does indeed open a new window with a list of other news items on the bottom and a little description of the news item on the right side. However, there is no video! Also, I didn't find any indication that my browser lacks a plugin or something and I should install it to view the news item.

If one looks around on the page, there is a Settings button on the top, so I went there hoping to get things sorted out by changing some settings. The settings page tells me that Yahoo! already has selected a media player (none as far as I can see) and a connection speed too (no indicator as to what is the present setting). A user cannot select a media player if it is not in the list, and selecting the speed without the media player is kind of redundant. Oh and when you click on the Help link on the page, it takes the user to a generic Yahoo! Help page. Why couldn't you have put a link which went straight to information about video news items on Yahoo! News?

So, Yahoo! please fix your news media player application so that Mac users can also enjoy the content on Yahoo! News.

19 January 2007

CSS Oddity

Lesson: Thou shalt not use CSS to obscure unpredictable text for ye users.

Skin deep advantage of CSS is that it can be used to make web pages beautiful and possibly perform some tricks without other tools like Javascript. However, when one doesn't know what the content of the page will be, CSS might actually end up obscuring that part of the page. An example is the occurence of heading tags h1, h2, etc. in people's blog posts on Planet Debian. For the planet, date is a level 1 heading, each person's name is a level 2 heading and title for each post is a level 3 heading. When a post contains either of the h1 or h2 level headings, it looks like the image shown below. Notice that the circled heading (h1) is hardly readable while the post's matter is!

This happens because tje CSS for the planet makes the h1 and h2 to have a letter-spacing of -2 pixels due to h1 and div.channel h2 selector definitions. The problem starts when a person's post contains either a level 1 or level 2 heading. The div.content h* selector (where * = 1,2,...6) makes all of them to have a font-size of 100% and the reduced letter spacing in addition to the default bold font-weight of headings make them almost unreadable (Firefox, IE6, Konqueror). The reason behind this is that the letter-spacing: -2px definition is being applied to all h1 headings and all descendant h2 headings of div.channel selector. If we remove the letter-spacing in the level 2 heading in the post(shown above), it should look as shown below.

In such cases where the content is not predictable, CSS rules should take into account both the static and variables parts separately. A style sheet which took care of the static part using child selectors and separate selectors for content styling would have suited Planet Debian more. Using the suggested separation method, a child selector e.g. div.channel>h2 would not make the div.content h2 to be with reduced letter spacing and thus leaving headings in posts to be more easily legible as show by the second image above.

So although using CSS gives many advantages, using it without giving a real consideration to the actual content of the page, however unpredictable it may be, one can end up with difficult to read content due to misused CSS rules.

This post will help me with a visual example of the different between descendant and child selectors. I hope it serves useful purpose to others too. Have fun CSSifying your pages.

16 January 2007

Snow Snow Snow.... finally

As promised yesterday, here are a couple of scenes from yesterday's wonderful nature show. To view larger versions of these images, click on image.



Snow Snow Snow

Ahhhh.....finally. And that too several inches of it. I'm happy that winter is here.

time to go to sleep now. No this isn't a dream, the snow was for real. Few pictures tomorrow if it stays.

15 January 2007

Rules of Slashdot

As read on slashdot.org:


  • We love Apple (especially when they do something just like Microsoft, and even more if their product is vaporware).
  • We hate Microsoft (especially when they do something just like Apple, and even more when their product is vaporware).
  • Steve Jobs can do no wrong (especially when he does the same as Bill Gates).
  • Bill Gates can do no right (especially when he does the same as Steve Jobs).
  • Any story that is positive about Bill Gates or Microsoft will get tagged "fud" or "troll".
  • Any story that is negative about Steve Jobs or Apple will get tagged "fud" or "troll".
  • "One Laptop Per Child" is the second coming of Christ.
  • Nicholas Negroponte is Christ.
  • We ignore Sun (especially when they dominate any specific industry).
  • We adore Java (even though it was developed by Sun).
  • It has been "The Year That Linux Takes Over the Desktop" for about 8 years.
  • It has been "The Year That Microsoft Dies" for about 15 years.
  • It has been "The Year That Apple Overtakes Microsoft" for about 10 years.
  • Ubuntu is God's chosen Linux distribution.
  • All other distributions of Linux are wannabes...especially the ones that have been around longer than Ubuntu.

That was hilarious :)

11 January 2007

PlanetPlanet & Blogger

I just noticed something and I can't find out where the fault is. Is planetplanet doing something wrong? Or does the new blogger have a bug?

This installation of planetplanet says that a feed(blogger) has a new post if there is comment. For example if there was a blog posted on 8th Jan, and someone commented on it today, planetplanet reads the feeds (every hour) and shows the post made on the 8th as today's post! Imagine someone comments on a 6month old post! That does mess up things a bit and the planetplanet readers do raise an eyebrow.

I have a feeling that it is blogger which is playing tricks. In the new blogger comment feeds are also available, but it shouldn't really send a new time for the main feed. I think I will ask around on the planetplanet mailing list as to who is the culprit.

Update: It has to do with planetplanet because I just noticed that the same thing happens with typepad.com feeds too. Looks like blogger only.

10 January 2007

Etch: Two digit level RC Bugs

I have been checking the number of RC bugs in Etch since Nov'06 and had expected them to fall below 100 around first week of December. But then they kept hovering around 115 and never went down till the first week of January.

Hmm... it seems it was not only me who was waiting to see the RC bugs for Etch go down to two digit level i.e. <100. Sam put up the perfect picture to celebrate this. Etch seems to be a lot closer with the number of bugs falling below 100.

Changing the Template

They said that the new blogger has new and better features, so I tried to play with the template as well. This is the template I chose to play with the new blogger template features. It is called Mr. Moto and was done by Monsieur Zeldman. I have seen and read quite a bit of his work and he is awesome.

I have just played with blogger's GUI system for setting up the template and page elements. The only change I made by hand was decreasing the size of date and increasing the size of post title. Before I start doing more digging in the template manually, I want to say that blogger's template system is pretty impressive. One can even move elements by a simple drag and drop. If you haven't tried it, do try and I'm sure you will be happy that you did.

One thing I missed is selective font size/family settings. The present font settings apply to the whole page. It would be wonderful to have per-element font settings.

PS: I wonder how it works on other browsers e.g. Safari and Opera.

8 January 2007

Fire Alarms

It was surprise to me when I learned yesterday that our fire alarm was not connected to the fire station system. I would have expected that so that the fire people know automatically when there is an alarm. It doesn't happen to be the case for this building though.


Yesterday around 5:00pm I was feeling drowsy because of a late full lunch, so I though of taking a half-hour nap. Just after 5 minutes of lying down, I heard an alarm which sounded like one of our alarm clocks but as if it was in the other room. I waited for about 5 seconds and then got up to turn it off. But the sound was coming from a different direction: the hallway! Then it hit me it was a fire alarm.

So I went out and tried to sniff in the hallway and then from the windows: no smoke. Relieved, I picked up my laptop and put it in its bag, disconnected my hard disk (which contains nightly backups) and put it in the same bag. I was going down the stairs after picking my SLR's bag.

On reaching down I saw the usual scene: everyone was in the entrance hall - blocking the entry!! When will they learn?

I went out and tried to scan for distant fire truck alarms. Nothing! I waited for about 5 minutes and still nothing. So I finally decided to go around the corner (fire station is in the same block) and ask the gentlemen in the fire station if it was a holiday ;). One of the fire men opened and asked what I wanted. I told him that there was a fire alarm and it was going on since the last 10 minutes. He calmly jotted down the address and told someone on this communication device about it too.

About 2 minutes after I gave them the information, I saw the first fire truck rushing towards us, and within another minute they had 3 more standing in front of our building.

In the end, it turned out that there was no fire but probably a prank! But one thing I will keep in mind is call 911 in case of a fire alarm even if the fire system is connected to theirs. Secondly, I was really surprised that none of the other residents though of calling 911 before going down the stairway.

6 January 2007

Testing 1...2....3

Testing the move to new blogger beta .

Update: I need to redo the template to make use of features from the new version of blogger.

4 January 2007

Saddam Hanging: (Immediate) Consequences

Unfortunate consequences of the publicizing of Saddam's hanging:

Blame: irresponsible authorities handling the execution, and irresponsible media people airing the video for short-time fame.

3 January 2007


I was searching for a software to convert a DVD9 to a DVD5 just like DVDShrink does. It didn't take long before I saw k9copy which does exactly what I wanted.

The idea was to backup my original DVDs which are usually DVD9 to DVD+R discs which are replaceable. I tried one of the DVD9 and the process took around half an hour or so. However, the result wasn't as fabulous as one would get with DVDShrink. The picture was all pixelated even though the camera wasn't moving during a shot. Am I doing something wrong? Do I need to change some settings before I start using it?

I hope k9copy gets better at this so as to at least give as good a quality as DVDShrink does.

2 January 2007

Edgy Eft install for Friend

A friend's system crashed a few days ago. He had to reinstall Windows and also resized his partitions to suit his needs.

  • Installing Windows: 70minutes

  • Number of reboots for install and post-install drivers, etc : several times

  • Reconfiguring Windows install to previous one: 120minutes

  • Installing Ubuntu with single reboot: 40minutes

  • Ubuntu automatically telling you your mouse needs to be recharged: priceless

And a Happy New Year to all.