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arbit blab

Well, just another post to make it clear that

  • I'm still alive
  • I haven't forgotten that I have a blog
  • I haven't forgotten my blog's password
  • I haven't lost the ability to write arbit crap.
  • I'm not busy with anything interesting
  • My Keyboard works fine

Arbit stuff going on around me off-late.

  • We've had our official farewell; So we've officially bid goodbye to B.I.T.S - Goa. People tried their best to make the occasion appear "senti" but it seemed more like "psenti" for me.
  • I wonder why our VC calls BITS as B.I.T.S; is it something similar to people choosing to call SAP as S.A.P?
  • Most of the advice given was of a copy-book style. But I liked one of them, though it wasn't expressed well enough for me - Learning from Books still remains an important way of learning, even if work teaches you a LOT.
  • College now has its own Debian Repository hosted on a server running Hardy. Hats off to bad\\_sector for showing the enthu to get things done. The LUG here's got a great bunch of people right now and its growing in leaps and bounds. I'm excited.
  • A couple of my friends picked up Debian recently and apparently both of them are loving it thoroughly. Linux, as addictive as ever.
  • It's been a while since I've been on the winning side in carroms. Its so boring to be on the losing side for so long.
  • Word is not a document exchange format1 ; Use html, plain text, pdf or the open document format.(if you are not averse to openness) [I mention this now because I faced a lot of trouble recently trying to handle some .doc files which replaced the html pages that were being used on the PS site.]
  • So often, little things get blown out of proportion, so quickly. Or its just that not everybody sees them as 'little' things.
  • On slow connections, the download 'handler' of firefox does really poorly. It's next to impossible to download anything over half an MB.
  • This from the preface of SICP2 ,a text book for an introductory course on Computer Programming at MIT

    Our design of this introductory computer-science subject reflects two major concerns. First, we want to establish the idea that a computer language is not just a way of getting a computer to perform operations but rather that it is a novel formal medium for expressing ideas about methodology. Thus, programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute. Second, we believe that the essential material to be addressed by a subject at this level is not the syntax of particular programming-language constructs, nor clever algorithms for computing particular functions efficiently, nor even the mathematical analysis of algorithms and the foundations of computing, but rather the techniques used to control the intellectual complexity of large software systems.

    I would like to see a few courses developed on similar lines here.

  • Gmail themes are good. I only tried the "Terminal" theme, though. I loved it!
  • For the very first time, I upgraded a distro. I successfully moved to Intrepid from Hardy. (and that too with the campus net!) This was before the repositories had been set-up. Now, it should be a much simpler job to achieve the same
  • Just got the news of more Violence in Mumbai; What the hell do these people want? I end this post here.

Here's an xkcd strip I liked. real_programmers.png


Footnotes:

1

Word is not a document exchange format

2

Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs

21

Yes, I've turned 21 today. I'd like to write a post today, but this song (by Adam Sandler?) more or less conveys, how I feel.

I'd just like to thank everyone, who prays for me to grow up and not just old.

The Happy Birthday Song

Once a year we celebrate
With stupid hats and plastic plates
The fact that you were able to make
Another trip around the sun

And the whole clan gathers round
And gifts and laughter do abound
And we let out a joyful sound
And sing that stupid song

Happy birthday!
Now you're one year older!
Happy birthday!
Your life still isn't over!
Happy birthday!
You did not accomplish much
But you didn't die this year
I guess that's good enough

So let's drink to your fading health
And hope you don't remind yourself
The chance of finding fame and wealth
Decrease with every year

Does it feel like you're doing laps
And eating food and taking naps
And hoping that someday perhaps
Your life will hold some cheer

Happy birthday!
What have you done that matters?
Happy birthday!
You're starting to get fatter
Happy birthday!
It's downhill from now on
Try not to remind yourself
Your best years are all gone

If cryogenics were all free
Then you could live like Walt Disney
And live for all eternity
Inside a block of ice

But instead your time is set
This is the only life you get
And though it hasn't ended yet
Sometimes you wish it might

Happy birthday!
You wish you had more money
Happy birthday!
Your life's so sad it's funny
Happy birthday!
How much more can you take?
But your friends are hungry
So just cut the stupid cake

Happy birthday!
Happy birthday!
Happy birthday, dear…

The 'Academic' Internet

Notice for the Internet Usage

Internet Facility is provided to students for academic activities and e-mails. It is observed that few students are misusing the Internet facility by using excessive internet bandwidth for non-academic purposes. The students who are running the hubs are strictly informed to close their hubs. Computer Center will be starting official hub for the sharing of academic information and open source softwares.

If a student is found while doing so the network facility will be blocked by Computer Center for a semester. Further, a student will be called by a disciplinary committee and a severe disciplinary action will be taken.

This Notice from the Computer Center is creating waves all around. This isn't the first time, though, that the people in-charge of the Network have "acted".

Academic activities; wonder what it's definition is, in their dictionaries. It surely includes the following.

  • Using Internet for 'academic activities' or emails, during class-room hours makes no sense.
  • Anything 'academic' cannot have a size greater than 5 MB.
  • Accessing version control systems ( svn, cvs et al ) cannot be classified 'academic'
  • IRC cannot teach you anything. Don't ever dream of thinking it as 'academic' to hang out on \\#python or \\#emacs
  • All 'academic' stuff is limited to the http(s) ports. You wouldn't need to use any other ports, ever.
  • Any 'academic' activity fits within a span of 2 hours or can be done in blocks of 2 hours each, with gaps of 2 hours in between.
  • 'Academic' stuff doesn't definitely contain key-words chosen by the "all-knowing" admins.

Moreover, the people in-charge who refused to allow the use of a computer in the CC as a server for on-campus repositories of GNU/Linux packages, now wish to host a 'hub' for sharing open-source softwares! There's already an official ftp server which hosts the academic info and a few useful softwares. I don't see how a hub would be different.

We don't have any disciplinary committees for people smoking in hostel rooms, causing a lot of trouble for others around them, but we are going to have them for hosting hubs. ( Well, a new law banning smoking in public places in India has been passed just a few days ago. Hopefully it'll work better than the older one, since now there's some pressure on the people in-charge of the public place. )

Also, it could be argued that college isn't meant only for 'academic' learning and a lots of other learning takes place here (and the hubs were definitely helping quite a bit) but I'll leave that for another day, probably. Also, I don't think 18+ year olds, people who are about to step into various big roles, leading the country need to be told how to make use of the facilities/resources available to them; A degree of freedom is indispensable, I believe.

I appreciate the efforts being made to improve the network situation here and also help the students get the most ( 'academically' ) out of their college experience, but I feel the situation deserves more careful handling.

Software Freedom Day

Three Cheers to 'Free Software'!

A toast for GNU on its 25th Birthday!1

If you intend to ask, what I did on this day, I have nothing to show. I haven't done anything that's tangible but yes, I have re-dedicated myself to the idea of Free Software. This post intends to shed some light on a few things (if not for the benefit of others, just as a reminder for myself)

  • Free Software is a matter of liberty, not price. I've often been in a position that required me to correct people. 'Free Software' is software that's free as in free speech and not free beer. For the lack of a better word in english, the word 'free' which also means gratis has been used. Using the term 'Libre' sometimes helps and if you are in this part of the world, "mukt" is the best word to use.
  • Free Software2 comes along with four fundamental freedoms. To put it simply, the freedom to use, study, share and modify any software.
  • Free Software may have the advantage of being 'technically sounder', but the philosophy is what matters the most to me.
  • I will do whatever is possible within my capacity to spread the philosophy and the associated freedom

Be Free, My Friend!

Here is an extract from one of Stallman's 3 essays:

We must talk about Freedom

Estimates today are that there are ten million users of GNU/Linux systems such as Debian GNU/Linux and Red Hat Linux. Free software has developed such practical advantages that users are flocking to it for purely practical reasons.

The good consequences of this are evident: more interest in developing free software, more customers for free software businesses, and more ability to encourage companies to develop commercial free software instead of proprietary software products.

But interest in the software is growing faster than awareness of the philosophy it is based on, and this leads to trouble. Our ability to meet the challenges and threats described above depends on the will to stand firm for freedom. To make sure our community has this will, we need to spread the idea to the new users as they come into the community.

But we are failing to do so: the efforts to attract new users into our community are far outstripping the efforts to teach them the civics of our community. We need to do both, and we need to keep the two efforts in balance.


Footnotes:

2

The Free Software Definition

3

The GNU Project by Richard Stallman

The Third Round.

This post is just to keep up a promise that I made to a friend of mine (well, actually myself). Presently, its the placement heat in our campus and people are busy writing tests, waiting, giving interviews and partying. This post doesn't have much to with all that though. In one of the interviews, I was called back and asked about my Cleft Lip and Palate1. The interview panel had concerns if I faced any serious medical problems due to this. I explained to them everything that I knew about it and they were convinced.

Later, I realized, I never explicitly did any reading on this issue or asked my parents/others about this. I somehow knew about it always. I probably learnt at all those visits to the dentist or may be sub-consciously, when I was a baby. It isn't, though, surprising to me that those guys had some reservations about it. It's not everyday that you see a guy with a Cleft, though statistics say there's prevalence of 1 in 500 births world-wide. As a matter of fact, I myself haven't seen another guy all my life (except for the pictures at my dentists') (also, they weren't too wrong in suspecting other problems, though they had absolutely no clue about this medical condition)

If you are wondering what the point of this post is, it's nothing. It's just a pointer to those interested in reading further on Cleft Lip and Palate.

Footnotes:

1

Cleft Lip and Palate – Wikipedia

A Byte of Python

This post's been inspired by a wonderful book, "A Byte of Python"1 by Swaroop C H. The book has been revised after a gap of nearly 4 years and the wait is worth it! I thoroughly loved the book, and I'm happy to be accompanied by so many2 others3. This book has filled me with a sense of joy and pride. The pride, of being part of such a wonderful community, a beautiful crowd. Further, it is a matter of pride, the book's been authored by an Indian - its quite rare to find such books written by people in this part of the world.

I have loved python, the moment I started using it. There are quite a few occasions, where I did something, just because I had the power of Python with me. Python is undoubtedly amongst the best, not just as a first programming language, but to give the user a sense of "do-able-ity" and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

>>> import this
The Zen of Python, by Tim Peters
Beautiful is better than ugly.
Explicit is better than implicit.
Simple is better than complex.
Complex is better than complicated.
Flat is better than nested.
Sparse is better than dense.
Readability counts.
Special cases aren't special enough to break the rules.
Although practicality beats purity.
Errors should never pass silently.
Unless explicitly silenced.
In the face of ambiguity, refuse the temptation to guess.
There should be one-- and preferably only one --obvious way to do it.
Although that way may not be obvious at first unless you're Dutch.
Now is better than never.
Although never is often better than *right* now.
If the implementation is hard to explain, it's a bad idea.
If the implementation is easy to explain, it may be a good idea.
Namespaces are one honking great idea -- let's do more of those!

Footnotes:

1

A Byte of Python

2

Python - Notes – Swaroop CH

3

Book updated for Python 3000 – Swaroop CH

Imbosomed!

A hug so deep,
resting on him the Christ,
isn't just etched
unto flesh of my chest,
but my heart bathes,
in the beauty of His love.

A close embrace,
not a speck moves,
the winds stand still,
while my mind soars,
above the skies,
across the blues,
within and without.

Mid-Term 'Psycho'Analysis

Its been 10 days on my sabbatical. I have done reasonably well during the first week, but now its getting on my nerves. I have realized how addicted I am to chat, IRC and the Internet. I have to soon find some remedies for this.

Well, here is the first step. I approached ELIZA (or Doctor Fill, that's actually the emacs mode) , the Emacs Psychotherapist to help me. An enjoyable chat this one! ;)

ELIZA (Doctor Fill) abbreviated as DF (pun intended, for those who get it)

DF: I am the psychotherapist.  Please, describe your problems.  Each time
you are finished talking, type RET twice.

Hi. Nice meeting you.

DF: How do you do?  What brings you to see me?

<!--more-->I am obviously not fine, otherwise I would not have been here.
I have realized I am addicted to the internet and want you to help
me.

DF: Why do you say that?

I say that because you are a doctor.

DF: Is it because because I am a doctor that you came to me?

Isn't that pretty obvious?

DF: Can you elaborate on that?

Yes, I did come to see you because you are a doctor. Now, I regret it.

DF: Does it bother you that I am a doctor now you regret it?

I don't understand your question.

DF: Earlier you said because I am a doctor?

Yes, because you are a doctor I came to you.

DF: When did you first know that I am a doctor you came to me?

I knew about you, when I first fiddled around with Emacs around an
year ago.

DF: What happened when you first fiddled around with emacs around a year
ago?

I loved it, thoroughly! But for a beginner like me it was difficult to
get along. I stopped using it.

DF: Is the fact that for a beginner like you it was difficult to get along
you stopped using it the real reason?

I think that along with my laziness to stick with the learning was the
real reason

DF: Does the fact that along with your laziness to stick with the learning
was the real reason explain anything else?

It does not explain anything else to me.

DF: Maybe your plans have something to do with this.

What plans? I donot have any plans.

DF: What makes you believe what plans you donot have any plans?

If I had plans, I would have been executing them.

DF: You mentioned that I am a doctor now you regret it?

Yes, because you seemed stupid initially. Now you seem to be making
some sense.

DF: Are you sure I seemed stupid initially now I seem to be making some
sense?

Yes I am pretty sure.

DF: Is it because of your life that you are going through all this?

Obviously. Because I am alive I am going through all this.

DF: Is it because you are alive you are going through all this that you
came to me?

Yes.

DF: I see...  Well, are you sure that this is so?

Yes. I don't think there is emacs in the hell.

DF: I would appreciate it if you would watch your tongue!

Oh! so emacs is in the hell too! is it in the heavan too?

DF: Emacs?  Hah!  Perhaps you could continue.

I thought only mortals used Emacs. Do others use it too?

DF: Have you been positive?

Yes. I always thought Emacs is only for the homo sapiens.

DF: I believe you have inhibitions with emacs.

No. I love emacs.
But it isn't suitable for Gods and Demons

DF: Are you annoyed that it is not suitable for gods and demons?

No

DF: Why not?

I am neither of them. That's why

DF: Please, continue.

I am a human and I can use emacs. Others donot need it. I am not annoyed

DF: Have you been annoyed often?

Ocassionally

DF: Go on, don't be afraid.

I am not. I have been ocassionally annoyed, more often with myself
than others.

DF: What causes you to be annoyed?

Presently, I am annoyed with myself for being addicted to the Internet
and may be for chatting with you too.

DF: Do you really think you are annoyed?

Affirmative

DF: I need a little more detail please.

Yes. I am a little annoyed with myself.

DF: Are you annoyed often?

Ocassionally. Why do you repeat questions?

DF: When did you first know that do me repeat questions?

Long Long ago, when I first used Emacs.

DF: What makes you think long long ago when you first used emacs?

I saw you repeat questions.

DF: Is it because of the people you hang around with that you say you saw
me repeat questions?

Yes.

DF: Yes, hmmm... so, why do you say this is so?

I am leaving. You are being too repititive. Goodbye!

DF: What makes you believe because I am a doctor?

Goodbye!

DF: My secretary will send you a bill.

Bill? You did not help me much.

DF: How do you reconcile problems at school?

Goodbye!

DF: Bye bye.

Bye

DF: See ya.

See ya.

DF: Are you sure that see me?

Yes, when in trouble

DF: What would happen if in trouble?

I will see ya

DF: Earlier you said I am a doctor you came to me?

Yes, now also I say that.

DF: You're being a bit brief, would you please go into detail.

Goodbye!

DF: Ok, talk to you some other time.

bye!

DF: Talk to you later.

On a more serious note, the Internet has become an Integral part of my life. I do sometimes think, a bit too much, but then…. the internet is "The Internet"!

I wish a Wish.

On a day, Wonderful,
'm filled with emotion
inexpressible
for, I think of
all that we share.

On a day that's Special,
for the World,
not just yet may be,
my heart rejoices
in the light you fill me with.

On a day, epochal
I just hope, you enjoy
all that the World's given
and celebrate for
all the difference you make
in the World of some.

On this day,
overwhelmed, with lots to convey,
silence, I choose,
for, it speaks louder than words.
I just say,
Happy Birthday, mate.


my 50th post; A poem, I wrote a few weeks ago; A poem or is it doggerel?; Something I wrote for a chum, that gives me courage to write more.