December 30, 2010

Music players

A music player is useful only when we cannot sing for ourselves.

December 29, 2010

Are you a teacher?

If you are a teacher, I'd like to tell you this.  Give your students their own bricks and cement.  Let them do with it whatever they like.  They might even just throw them away and go looking for trees with the ax they borrowed from their friends.  Don't be upset about it.

If they do take the bricks and cement they are offered, don't give your building plan to them.  If you can, share with them your building plan and construct the buildings in front of their eyes.  But if you cannot do that, throw away your plan or just hide it from your students.

If you are a parent, substitute "kids" in place of "students" in these paragraphs.  Because parents are the first teachers of every kid.

December 28, 2010

What my 2010 has been like

I am marking 2010 as a great year in my life.  A lot of things happened.  There's a line in a Tamil song, "சிந்தாத கண்ணீர் இல்லை, சிரிப்புக்கும் பஞ்சம் இல்லை" (roughly translates to "loads of laughter and loads of tears").  I think these lines summarize my 2010 really well.

First, I'll list the non-positives since the list is short :)  I couldn't get together with an amazing person I wanted to live with; an already broken relationship with a friend has broken down almost completely, and naturally.  I am not sure if I can make enough money to pull off everything I have started.  I have left my parents -- my father at least -- in a not-so-happy state of mind.

Now for the positives.  I went through my second surgery, and I don't have a screwed up leg anymore ;-)  My brother Saravanan is someone I can call as my soul mate.  I have always liked to travel with him.  This year we went on two bike rides.  I designed t-shirts for myself and as gifts.  I finished reading two big novels: Crime and Punishment and Anna Karenina.  For a slow reader like me, it's really surprising I managed to finish both novels within a year.

I learned photography and managed to take some good pictures.  Went on my dream bike ride.  Contemplated a lot, philosophized a lot.  I have a feeling that I am a bit more mature now than I was in the beginning of 2010.

Best of all, I started working on fixing my long time gripe: Hyderabad.  I blindly chose a place and started working on a transfer.  Things are going pretty good, and I will be leaving Hyderabad in about two months.  I am so insanely happy I even thought about printing a t-shirt that says "I survived 5 years of Hyderabad".  So yeah... that's about it.  Looking forward to an even more interesting 2011.

PS: It's surprising to me that there's no mention about my work in this post... maybe I don't care so much about my work?

December 26, 2010

Quotes from Gladiator

Gladiator is one of my favourite movies.  I happened to see it once again a few days ago, and I collected some quotes as usual:
  • [People should know when they are conquered.]
    Would you, Quintus?  Would I?
  • At my signal unleash hell.
  • Brothers, what we do in life echoes in eternity.
  • Ah, there's always someone left to fight.
  • Your faults as a son is my failure as a father.
  • Don't die, they'll feed you to the lions.  They are worth more than we are!
  • Spaniard, why don't you fight?  We all have to fight.
  • He'll bring them death and they'll love him for it.
  • You have a great name.  He must kill your name before he kills you.
  • We mortals are but shadows and dust.

December 13, 2010

Swyping: first impressions

I tried Swype some time back.  After using it for a very short time, I gave up and went back to standard Android keyboard.  I have been trying Swype again for a few days now.  I can't say I'm happy with it although I haven't fully given up on it yet.

The biggest challenge for me in adapting to swyping (vs. typing) is the shift in the mental model of text input.  Instead of making letter mistakes I make word mistakes now, and that's not really a pleasant thing.  Has my text input accuracy improved?  Maybe, but I can't say I'm happy with it.  I have a feeling that I would be a lot happier with a physical  keyboard than this swyping business.  (Just now I had to make three attempts before I can get the word "keyboard" right.)

The built-in keyboard in Gingerbread is pretty good, when combined with autocomplete.  I think I will probably stick to the standard keyboard for long text inputs, and use Swype when I don't feel like expending the energy required for typing correctly on the soft keyboard.

Text input through soft keyboards is indeed a problem, but Swype doesn't provide a solution to it; instead, it introduces a new problem.  In my current view both problems are pretty much of the same magnitude.  Most likely, Swype will soon become irrelevant because Google is serious about improving their keyboard.

December 12, 2010

Quotes: Anna Karenina

After spending more than 6 months in reading, today I finished reading Anna Karenina.  I can very well see why Tolstoy is praised by so many people.  Anna Karenina was an amazing read.  I sure have to read it once again to make use of the novel in my own life.  I hope to read it again some time.  Some quotes from the novel, as usual:
  • Women with a shadow usually come to a bad end.
  • To know love, one must make mistakes and then correct them.
  • Alexey Alexandrovitch was standing face to face with life, with the possibility of his wife's loving someone other than himself, and this seemed to him very irrational and incomprehensible because it was life itself.
  • "I do my best, Konstantin Dmitrievitch, d'ye see, as I would for my own father.  I don't like bad work myself, nor would I let another man do it.  What's good for the master's good for us too.  To look out yonder now," said Vassily, pointing, "it does one's heart good."
  • A cigar is a sort of thing, not exactly a pleasure, but the crown and outward sign of pleasure.
  • The walls of home are a support.
  • Whatever our destiny is or may be, we have made it ourselves, and we do not complain of it.
  • There is a way out of every position.
  • God sends the cross and sends the strength to bear it.
  • If it's a good thing for you, it's a good thing for everyone.
  • No sort of activity is likely to be lasting if it is not founded on self-interest, that's a universal principle, a philosophical principle.
  • Hypocrisy in anything whatever may deceive the cleverest and most penetrating man, but the least wide-awake of children recognizes it, and is revolted by it, however ingeniously it may be disguised.
  • God gave the day, God gave the strength.  And the day and the strength were consecrated to labor, and that labor was its own reward.  For whom the labor?  What would be its fruits?  These were idle considerations -- beside the point.
  • Anything's better than lying and deceit.
  • To sleep well one ought to work, and to enjoy oneself one ought to work too.
  • Women are the chief stumbling block in a man's career.  It's hard to love a woman and do anything.  There's only one way of having love conveniently without its being a hindrance -- that's marriage.
  • What's the use of being dreary?
  • If one wants the result, one must admit the means.
  • There's less charm in life, when one thinks of death, but there's more peace.
  • Love those that hate you, but to love those one hates is impossible.
  • "I have heard it said that women love men even for their vices," Anna began suddenly, "but I hate him for his virtues."
  • I cannot paint a Christ that is not in my heart.
  • It is hard for anyone who is dissatisfied not to blame someone else, and especially the person nearest of all to him, for the ground of his dissatisfaction.
  • One may sit for several hours at a stretch with one's legs crossed in the same position, if one knows that there's nothing to prevent one's changing one's position; but if a man knows that he must remain sitting so with crossed legs, then cramps come on, the legs begin to twitch and to strain towards the spot to which one would like to draw them.
  • But one must call things by their names.
  • A wife is a care, but it's worse when she's not a wife.
  • It's awful to think that any outsider can shatter our happiness.
  • If one loves anyone, one loves the whole person, just as they are and not as one would like them to be.
  • I don't want to prove anything; I merely want to live, to do no one harm but myself.  I have the right to do that, haven't I?
  • In love there's no more nor less.  I love my daughter with one love, and her with another.
  • Energy rests upon love; and come as it will, there's no forcing it.
  • There are no conditions to which a man cannot become used, especially if he sees that all around him are living in the same way.
  • In order to carry through any undertaking in family life, there must necessarily be either complete division between the husband and wife, or loving agreement.  When the relations of a couple are vacillating and neither one thing nor the other, no sort of enterprise can be undertaken.  Many families remain for years in the same place, though both husband and wife are sick of it, simply because there is neither complete division nor agreement between them.
  • Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be.
  • Where love ends, hate begins.
  • Goodness is outside the chain of cause and effect.
  • I know nothing, nothing, and I can know nothing but what has been told to me and all men.

December 09, 2010

Rounding

Why do we round numbers?  Because of our inability to process data that's very detailed.  We chop off some details that we think are unimportant and we keep the rest.  We don't round only numbers; we round everything.  Books, for example.

We know that there are billions of books in the world.  And all of them are unique.  Every one of them is different from everything else.  Is that because every book uses unique words?  No.  Is that because every book uses unique phrases?  No.  Is that because every book uses unique sentences? No.  Is that because every book has unique paragraphs?  No.  Is that because every book has unique chapters?  Maybe not.  If you have ever tried writing a book, you'd know that what reaches the readers is only one version what you had written.  You would have written several books that share many chapters, and you published the one book that was the best among them all.  So, a book is unique only when you see it from cover to cover as a whole.

But how do we judge books?  Isn't it common to say "A few chapters in the middle are a little boring, but it's a pretty good book"?  Isn't it common to remember only a few parts of a book and forget everything else from it?  Isn't it common to skip a chapter in a book because it's way too boring?  Are we not rounding a book when we judge it by excluding certain parts from it?  Why do we always want to judge an incomplete thing than to simply not have an opinion about it?

Same applies to people.  A person is what they are, what they do, what happens to them from their birth to end.  I think knowing even oneself is extremely hard without rounding... let alone knowing others.  But how we have put everyone we know in buckets like "good person", "crazy dude", "smart chick", etc!

Colours


Really really really long time back, when there weren't many people on earth, there lived two men.  I don't know their names, but let's call them Ganesan and Murugan.  When electromagnetic ration (aka light) with a certain frequency between 540 and 610 THz passed through Ganesan's eyes, he saw a shade of this color: .  However, for the same radiation Murugan saw a shade of .  Likewise, Ganesan saw the light of a certain frequency between 610 and 670 THz as  but Murugan saw the same light as .

Ganesan saw plants and leaves in , and seas and sky in .  Murugan saw plants and leaves in  and seas and sky in .  They spoke to each other about how there's something visually similar between sea and sky and between leaves and plants.  They decided to call that similarity "colour".  They decided that they would call the "colour of leaves" green and the "colour of sky" blue.  Keeping that as the starting point, they identified and named plenty of other colours.  But never could they know that one person's green was another person's blue.

Fear stays silent while passion speaks

I saw Padmasree Warrior's keynote video a really long time ago, and quite liked it.




Some quotes I liked from the video:
  • Every transition brings with it personal growth.
  • It's easier to gain speed at a turn.
  • Opportunity is a mould that is waiting to be reshaped.
  • Leaders blur boundaries.
  • The best way to get recognition is to give it away.

Paradigm shift of computing industry

Eric Schmidt in Google's Chrome event:
We've gone from a point where we had reliable disks and unreliable networks to a world where we have reliable networks and the absense of a disk or an unreliable disk or we don't really care about the disk.
(Video available on YouTube)

December 08, 2010

Habits

Habits are like short circuits in the decision making process.

December 01, 2010

How I am saving time

I like reading books.  I usually read "heavy" books that take long to read.  To add to that I am a slow reader.  So if I start reading a book today, I will take months before I can finish it.  I bought a copy of Anna Karenina on May 22, 2010 (i.e. more than 6 months ago), and I still haven't finished reading it.

Some time back I realized that I don't get any time to read.  I didn't like that fact.  I started watching my daily activities and figured what all were taking my time.  The first thing was email.  Every random vendor was sending me promotions.  I spent about two weeks actively unsubscribing or creating filters to stop spam from interrupting me.

Next was staying away from Facebook.  There are two reasons why I don't use Facebook much.  First is that it doesn't have a useful search functionality.  If I post something on Facebook today, I cannot find that post 3 months later by searching.  The second reason is that there's too much of mindless stuff going on in Facebook.

Third one was cleaning up my Google Reader feeds.  I had subscribed to Jeyamohan's blog though I hardly read the posts he writes.  I can always go read directly from his site if I have time.  Likewise I unsubscribed from some Android forums that weren't of good use of my time.

The final thing was to unfollow some people on Twitter.  @adsahay is a friend, but he doesn't post any personal updates on Twitter.  @lavsmohan posts several tweets a day and most of them are boring.  (Her blog is pretty good, by the way; her blog is still on my Reader.)  Then a few other people from Tamil film industry.  They were mostly giving film news updates; that's not something I'd want to read everyday.  Unfollowing them all has made my Twitter timeline a lot slimmer.

All these have given me a good amount of spare time which I can use to write and read something I can feel good about.