Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Slashdot + Microsoft Windows = Hilarity

All right, so I don't need a lot of convincing to grant you that the Slashdot crowd is not a big fan of Microsoft, especially that infernal piece of software they call an Operating System*. The latest story there is "Getting a handle on Vista" - discussing the features of the Microsoft Vista, Microsoft's new OS that they plan to release in late 2006. One of these "features" is, and I quote a Microsoft executive here, "reducing the number of times computers will have to be rebooted".

I could stop here because the humor inherent in that statement itself is sufficient to prove the equation in the title correct. I won't.

A poster on Slashdot commented that Microsoft made similar claims about Windows 2000 when it advertised it as "only having 7 events that would necessitate a reboot". The person (blessed with an amazing sense of humor) who replied to that post said:

it does only have seven events that necessitate a reboot:
  1. Installing anything
  2. Uninstalling anything
  3. Being connected to a network
  4. Not being connected to a network
  5. Running an application
  6. Not running an application
  7. Starting up
I have not laughed this hard since ... since ... um ... for a long time !

* Didn't I mention it? I'm one of the Slashdot crowd !

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Bloglash be damned !

Apparently this gentleman is upset with blogs. Very upset. Very very upset. He says a blogger is "anyone with enough time or narcissism to document every tedious bit of minutia filling their uneventful lives." Never thought I would be described as narcissistic. Ah well ... another day, another discovery.

Oh, and speaking of tedious bit of minutia, I have to say that I am loving watching the old seasons of Frasier. Buying that six-season pack was a very good decision. As I have said over and over again on my instrument of narcissistic self-expression, Wit rules. And you know what ? So does Sarcasm.

Take that, Mr. Angry Man !

Saturday, July 23, 2005

I have the tickets !

Alright ... so I just bought the tickets for Glengarry Glen Ross from BroadwayOffers.com and got a pretty good deal I think ($78 vs $115 full price). They are for the 2 pm show next Saturday (7/30). I am pretty excited and nervous at the same time. I will get to see Alan Alda in person and may be get an autograph as well. Let's see how it goes.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


The world abounds with men and women,
wielding pens mightier and wiser than mine.
Their written word emotes life itself,
while I produce that which is mediocrity defined.

Day after day I struggle to find words with voice,
while They speak the language that transcends all that is man-made.
It is They who are read and revered,
and They who are remembered even when men's memories begin to fade.

Think not that I wish ill of them,
or even envy them their skill.
Respect and awe I bestow upon their work,
and some hope that inspiration be instilled.

Perhaps the future holds promise,
perchance the days will come.
I shall find the golden words that elude me now,
and, God willing, even be read by some.

Throw out that PC [not] !!

Just read on Slashdot that there is an NYTimes article [registration reqd. for reading] that talks about how certain people have developed a new response to the growing problem of Spyware - throw out your PC and buy a new one !! Absolutely outrageous ! By doing this, you don't do anything except indirectly give Microsoft an incentive to not fix this problem. Any new PC you buy will fetch it more profits from the licensing fee of another copy of Windows.

One of the people mentioned in the articles holds a PhD in Computer Science, no less! This is sort of disappointing because rather than actually get at the root cause of their problem, people think that just buying a new computer will solve it ! Of course it would arise again if you do not change your habits.

Let me reiterate a couple things that have been mentioned over and over again in conjunction with the Spyware issue:

1) Do not use Internet Explorer : I cannot stress this enough ! Most exploits are written for IE and you should use Mozilla Firefox - much safer.

2) Change your browsing habits : Do not just blindly click "Yes" or "OK" to any pop-up dialog or window that asks you a question. Try to understand the question that it's asking you. If you do not understand it, then better to be safe and click "No" or "Cancel". Do not click on advertisements or flash banners on websites no matter how enticing their message !

3) Another cannot-stress-enough-er, Do not open email attachments !

BTW, if you do decide to get rid of your PC, please seriously consider getting an Apple Mac Mini or an iMac. The Mac Mini is very affordable (~$500) and will work with your existing keyboard, monitor and mouse. Apple's operating system is based on UNIX and has no spyware problems at all.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Mr. Alan Alda

I don't know if I have mentioned this before, but Alan Alda is my favorite actor. I first came across him as Captain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce in the incomparable TV show M*A*S*H. He superb acting, as well as directing, garnered him a flabbergasting 21 Emmy nominations and 5 wins during the 11-year lifetime of the show. And then he did the brilliant science show Frontiers, in collaboration with Scientific American. And then there was the fantastic ER episode - The Peace of Wild Things [the eponymous Wendell Berry poem], for which he was nominated for yet another Emmy. Then, of course, there was the Oscar-nominated performance for The Aviator - which brings me to the actual point of this post (other than fawning over Mr. Alda).

I just found out that he has been nominated for a "best supporting actor" Emmy for his work in West Wing and caught a brief sound bite of him saying something to the effect of "Has there been someone before who has actually lost all 3 in the same year ?" And then it hit me ... he has been nominated for an Oscar, a Tony - for the broadway resurrection of David Mamet's glorious Glengarry Glen Ross. which I will definitely be catching before curtains go down in late August and I head back to MD - and, now, an Emmy. My question is - "Has someone been nominated for all 3 in the same year before ?"

Anyway, I really really hope that he wins.

[ PS: I only mention an iota of the work that Mr. Alda did between M*A*S*H and The Aviator. ]

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Finally, Monsieur Poirot !

I have finally been able to crack the mystery before Poirot solves it in the episode. I shall always remember "The Spanish Chest", Episode 12. That is good news, n'est pas ?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Museum of Ancient Inventions

Found a link to the remarkable Virtual Museum of Ancient Inventions. Things invented by those distant civilizations without which modern life would pretty much not exist. Don't believe me? Let's peruse the exhibit and let me try to convince you of the veracity of the above statement:

1) What do we have first? Ah, yes ... the Woven Cloth from 7000 BC. Wouldn't be very social without this, would we?

2) Potter's Wheel, Egypt, 2400 BC : You know why civilization would have ended without this invention? Other than the fact that we would still be spilling more than drinking, the coasters would never have been invented. The Horror !!

3) Candles, Rome, 500 BC. "Quick ... honey ... this matchstick is about to go out. Light another one. Damn these power cuts !! If only someone could have invented ... something made out of wax that keeps burning for a long time".

4) Arches, Rome, 500 BC. Invented for a more practical purpose - supporting massive aqueducts that carried huge amounts of water from the mountains into the city - arches have found their way into almost every form of architecture known to man.

5) Stone-hurling Catapult, Greece, 400 BC. This one I can live without. A weapon is a weapon is a weapon.

6) Battery, Baghdad, 250 BC. Come on? It's not obvious?

7) Compass, China, 220 BC. "Always getting lost? Never getting where you want to be? Try this amazing new invention - the South Pointer, or as people will call it later, the Compass !"

8) Steam Engine, Alexandria, 100 AD. And here we were, giving James Watt all the credit ! I am sure he has no problems sharing !

9) Abacus, Russia & Japan, Date Unknown. If we didn't have this ... you wouldn't know whether this is item number 9 or 45.

Lots more where that came from. Do visit the museum itself.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

World Monument Fund Watch 2006

I was just reading on the always-informative MetaFilter, that the World Monument Fund has released its 2006 Endangered Monuments List. As the post says, the WMF has taken the unprecedented step of putting the entire country of Iraq on the list. Of course, for those of you not familiar with Iraq, historically known as Mesopotamia. it was the seat of some of the most ancient and advanced civilizations. Read more about that here.

Personally, I just wanted to see if there was anything in India that was on this watch list. Lo and behold, there are actually 8 in the entire Indian subcontinent and 4 in India itself ! These are:

* Watson's Hotel in Bombay : The earliest surviving example of cast-iron architecture from colonial India, built around 1869.
* Dalhousie Square in Calcutta : A 2 square KM area in the heart of Calcutta - once the epicenter and capital of the Raj.
* Dhangkar Gompa in Himachal Pradesh : A forgotten monastery (gompa = temple) on the Indo-Tibetan border from at least 600 years old.
* Guru Lhakhang & Sumda Chung Temples in Sumda Chung : Two of the oldest (11th century) Buddhist temples used for worship to this day.

Although the conditions of all of these monuments is deplorable - and points to the relatively scant attention that the Indian government pays to its historical heritage - I am particularly saddened by the situation at the Watson Hotel, because I have actually been there and seen it. Despite the complete lack of attention by the current owner and the defiling balconies, the beauty still shines through. Recently, three of the balconies collapsed and killed 1 person. I hope that this shines light on the urgency of the situation and that WMF is able to persuade the government to let the proposed restoration and conservation work go through.

Friday, July 08, 2005


I just finished Disc 3 of the Agatha Christie's Poirot Collection (5 more to go). I absolutely adore the theme music of this show. Let me see if I can find it online ... hmm, found a sequenced MIDI here but not the original - which is just absolutely incomparable. Anyway, I was wondering about what it was about the theme music that not only made me feel good but also free and stress-less (a term coined by my friend Miriam). And then it hit me, it was because in India, Poirot was broadcast on Sundays at 12.30 p.m.

Ahh ... Sundays in India ! Nothing like having a delicious mom-made Indian breakfast, watching a string of BBC classics (Poirot, the hilarious Jeeves & Wooster and the brilliant Sherlock Holmes Mysteries) and knowing that half of Sunday is still there to enjoy after the shows.


Monday, July 04, 2005

Mad About "Mad About You"

A long time ago, in a land not so far away ... in fact, right here ... funny and intelligent television was actually "regular" television. You did not have to pay $44.95 a month just to be able to watch something that would be just the right kind of funny (one of the ways to identify this form of funny is to be able to laugh at all the right places without the canned laughter). I know it's hard to imagine this while living in today's world of - euphemistically speaking - incredibly mediocre TV, but believe me, I have proof. This proof lies in the episodes of a beautifully crafted, gem of a show called Mad About You.

I could write tomes about how good this show is but I don't want to be one of those fans. Just watch it.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Hotel Rwanda

I just finished watching Hotel Rwanda. I am speechless. I had seen a lot of interviews with Don Cheadle and the director, Terry George but nothing could have prepared me for this movie. I think Joaquin Phoenix's character Jack Daglish sums it up when he says, "I am so ashamed."

It is tragic that the one universal trait among men in this world is hatred and not compassion.