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Monday, March 02, 2009
My iPod died last night. It started showing the sad iPod icon which made me sad as well. Now I am not a big fan of apple, and I don’t feel the need for buying every iteration of iPods that have come since I got mine. I have a 4th generation 20GB iPod with click wheel. This was the one that came before the iPod photo or those video ones never mind the touch. I don’t care much about videos nor music, my primary purpose for the iPod is listening to podcasts. My commutes for work have been very long in the last couple of years. Before I used to drive for an hour, now my train rides are close to two hours each way. I needed to make this time productive and podcasts seemed like a reasonable way to utilize the time. These podcasts allow me to stay up to date with things that I would otherwise not have any time for. Now the iPod was dead and I had nothing to occupy myself on the train. There is only so many minutes of looking out of the window that I can do.
Now we come to how the iPod came to this sad state. This made me hate Apple even more. The program I hate the most on my computer is iTunes and from what I hear, I am not alone in that. It is so bloated and takes forever to load and is so hard to do anything in it. I had plugged in my iPod and iTunes just crashed after that. It was very weird as the program became all black and it wouldn’t even end when I tried to end task it. Fortunately enough I was able to keep my machine alive and end iTunes by first killing the explorer process and then killing iTunes. As much as people say bad things about Vista, I love it and I have never had it crash on me ever and I have always been able to recover from critical errors to my native state. And people love to bash Microsoft and love apple because it is trendy.
I needed something for my morning commute and fortunately enough my reliable G1 could download an app called ACast which could subscribe to and download podcasts over the air. Google came to the rescue once again. Now I was able to listen to Sidepodcast and find out how the KERS development has been going along for the upcoming season of Formula 1. I could also listen to Buzz Out Loud and get all the tech news of the day.
But the story does not end there. The apple website did not provide much support for the sad iPod icon other than taking it in for service. I was not willing to spend that kind of money on my 4th generation iPod. So relying on Google once again, I searched and discovered that many people had fixed this problem by dropping the iPod from a height of 4-5 feet. Yes I kid you not, that was the solution everyone was saying, and they were just as amazed at the outcome. I had nothing to lose so I decided to give it a try. Now I tried it on a carpeted floor and dropped the iPod from a height of 4 feet. It hit the ground and then I turned it on to see that the sad iPod icon was no more. The menu had returned. The iPod is fully functional now. Just goes to show that Apple products need a good bashing to make them work.
I first heard the whirring sound of the 5 liter engine before I caught the white Mustang in my side view mirror. It was going all the way in the left lane and soon had caught up to me and we were neck and neck. It is this moment that I love most. I performed the obligatory cop check, which is much more than just checking the mirrors and looking out towards the horizon. You also have to look for unmarked cars. Every Ford Crown Victoria or Dodge Charger could potentially have a cop inside. Now it was time to show the punks in the Mustang that their car wasn't all that and being inside that car did not make them cool.
This is the moment that Katie comes alive. Her appearances are very deceptive. She looks agile, nifty and one that could squeeze through tight spaces. This is all true, but it also gives her a more delicate look. She doesn't look like a large growling beast and moves along gently without making much noise. Most believe that she is all looks and no real substance, nothing could be further from the truth.
I switched the transmission to manual and shifted down two gears as the engine roared in to a new life. That is one of the best things about Katie, she can be quiet and gentle and nifty during everyday driving but once you push the pedal to the metal, she transforms into a roaring beast and growls much louder than most. The most special part of Katie is her unique heart. It is different than all others, it is a rotary engine. A 'Wankel', named after her designer. Instead of pistons moving up and down, there are two rotors that move in a circular direction. These rotors are in essence rounded triangles sitting inside a circle thus creating three chambers for gasoline to be combusted in. There is no conversion of up and down motion of the pistons to a circular motion of the cam shaft. The motion is circular from the beginning in a rotary engine. What this really means is that there are only three moving parts and the engine can achieve very high RPMs without that much strain on it. The RX8 has the red line at 9,000 RPMs. Without the bulky cylinders, the engine size is also reduced, totaling a mere 1.3 liter displacement. The RX8 truly shows that size doesn't matter, delivering up to 238 horsepower from the baby sized engine.
Since the RX8 can achieve high RPMs, and most of the torque is at the higher end, it has to be driven a little differently. As I was in 6th gear cruising close to 70mph with the RPM at just 2,000, I could shift down to 4th and use the higher RPMs to get a sudden surge of power. I get pushed back in my seat and the engine sound rises many decibels and within a few seconds I get up to 90. I am able to match the speed of the faster moving Mustang with ease which signals to them that I want to play a bit. The Mustang also increases its speed but now traffic comes in to play. This reminds me of my days in high school where once I raced a Mustang in my old, family minivan, and weaving in and out of traffic, I was able to beat it across the finish line. Since that day I was known in school as "The Minivan Racer".
As a slower car ahead of me approaches closer and closer, I quickly move to the right lane, squeezing in a tight but safe enough gap. The Mustang does the same but amongst a barrage of horns and screeching brakes, there is just not enough room. This is the most dangerous thing about racing on the highway. Racers are not considerate to the other drivers and make sudden and sharp lane charges causing other drivers to panic. The first rule of changing lanes safely, even in high speeds is to signal for it. Make sure the gap is big enough. Move in slowly in to the lane, make sure the other drivers are aware that you are moving in to the lane. Even if the gap is not big enough, you can squeeze through safely if you maintain your speed. Most accidents are caused by drivers cutting off in front of others and then slamming on their brakes causing the drivers behind them to panic. If you feel that you will have to hit the brakes as soon as you change lanes, don't do it. Wait a little longer and another lane will open up soon enough.
Katie is very smooth when it comes to maneuvering at high speeds. Since her engine is small, the weight distribution is a perfect 50-50 on both the axles. She also has a very tight turning radius of just 17.4 ft. As we both approach the ramp, I am able to accelerate on the curve while the Mustang keeps on pressing the brakes to slow down. As I exit the curve, I am at full throttle and am able to pass away. All the horses under the Mustang's hood are not enough at that moment and it is a while before it can catch me again. By this time, I have slowed down, my exit is here. I take the on-ramp at speed and love the handling as Katie hugs the corner with such finesse. I hit the apex of the curve and then speed out. The light ahead turns red and the 16 inch disc brakes bring me to a swift but smooth halt. It is time to open the sunroof and soak in the sun. I can't help but have a smile on my face, there is just so much pleasure in driving this beauty. I respect the great thought that has been put in designing her and I love her soul and spirit. She has so much character. That is why she has a name. Katie.
Note: Racing on streets and highways are dangerous. It does not matter what vehicle you drive or how much experience you have. Reckless driving is a leading cause of death. Obey the speed limit.
The URL is too hard to remember. Seriously, what was I thinking? mcmlkjhgfdsi? Who can remember that? I should go for something simple like myblog.blogspot.com.
There were no new posts for 2 years! Why would I expect people to visit my blog when I never put up any new content? If you write it, they will come.
The posts are not that interesting. If there was anything of value on my blog then it would pop up somewhere in someone's search results and get an accidental click here or there. I blog about useless stuff that no one else has any interest in.
My writing is crap! Admittedly if there was anything in my writing that the readers would enjoy then they would continue to come back and read it. My posts don't contain interesting ideas, logical organization, appropriate tone, fluency or humour. Also, British spellings tend to creep up time and time again.
I don't have any friends. If I did, at least I would have a handful of people who would visit and leave comments.
Just 7 days short of 2 years since I wrote something on my blog, I felt the need to resume writing again. so much has happened in the last 2 years but I had been too busy to go online and publish a post. Now however, I have fallen victim to the plunging economy and an unemployed person seems to find too much time than he has use for. So here I am, writing this post out of shear boredom.
There were so many interesting things that happened in the last two years that I should have blogged about. Here are the top 10 potential topics I could have written about but now it seems a little too late.
Switching jobs (September 2007)
Black Friday 2007: I was the first person in line outside of a Circuity City where I stood from 6:30 PM on thanksgiving day till 5:00 AM the next morning. It was a freezing cold night and I don't plan on repeating it again in the future. I did get a sweet deal on this TV for just $1,299!
Getting a pal for Katie to hang out with. She is much older but loves the cold weather where as Katie can't go two feet when it is snowing. I call her Vicki though she is more elegant and prefers her full name of Victoria.
Building a new computer. I was going to make this a step by step guide on how to assemble a machine and write a guide of which parts to procure. I even took pictures for this but never got the time to write a blog entry.
Katie getting disfigured by a punk kid and looking like this right in front of the house. Fortunately she is all fixed and pretty now and I can sleep at nights again.
Trip to Abu Dhabi and Pakistan.
Getting laid off.
Getting the T-Mobile G1 (Google's Android) Phone.
Now when I look back at this list, it portrays me as a little too materialistic only mentioning new possessions and other "shiny" stuff. To be frank, anything else would not really be worth writing about as nothing much happens in my life. As it is, not many people read my blog, I wouldn't want to bore people with my philosophies of life. Hopefully this time around my posts will be a little more interesting.
1 - Eiffel Tower This is the obvious choice for the first thing you should see in Paris. It would be unimaginable to visit Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower. You must go there both during the day and the night. Go to the top of the tower during the day but do expect to spend an hour in line. The quickest way to the top is to take the stairs to the 2nd level (if you feel fit enough) and then buy tickets for the elevator to the top. Tickets to the summit cost 11.50 Euros. The top is worth the wait in line as the views of Paris are spectacular. The best place to take pictures of the Eiffel Tower is from the Trocadero across the river from it. Take your night pictures from here too. The Tower does live up to the hype.
2 - Arc de Triomphe This is the second most famous monument in Paris and it would be madness to leave Paris without seeing it. The Arc is much bigger than expected and it is spectacular to walk under. If you are a fan of classical architecture then you will be amazed by the sculpture work on the arc. Erected to celebrate Napoleon's victories in Italy, the arc has several sculptures of Napoleon being adorned by Greek Goddesses. If you are willing to spend enough money, you can even go to the top of the arc and get a beautiful view down Champs Elysees.
3 - Chateau de Versailles Only an hour train ride from Paris, I would extremely recommend people to visit Versailles. I have not seen any residence which was more beautiful. This truly looks like a palace fit for the kings. The palace is huge and looks spectacular. The gardens are extremely vast and the whole trip would take you the better part of a full day. This was the highlight of my trip in Paris and I was so glad that I decided to go there. For those who decide to skip it, you don't know what you have missed!
4 - Louvre The Louvre has become central to all Da Vinci Code enthusiasts and the crowd around the Da Vinci paintings are very large. But still, it is worth seeing the Mona Lisa live, just to say you have seen it. It is over hyped but the rest of the Louvre is amazing. The whole palace itself is a work of art, from the ceilings and the moldings to the small fixtures. The artwork is tremendous as well, including numerous famous paintings and artifacts. The Egyptian collection is fairly large and there are exhibits from all around the world. There are many Gothic art and manuscripts, but my favorite was the gigantic "Coronation of Napoleon" painting.
5 - Cathedral Notre Dame If you want to experience rue Gothic Cathedrals, they don't come better than Notre Dame. The humongous size and the ornate architecture is beautiful. The flying buttresses gave a unique look. You can also take a tour to the top and see the gargoyles just as Quasimodo the hunchback did in Victor Hugo's book. The view from the side of the river is amazing.
I almost died as soon as I set foot in London. And after realizing the mistake I had made, I wondered why more people don't die as soon as they step out off Heathrow Airport. Although I was aware that people drive on the left (read: wrong) side of the road there, I paid no attention to it as a pedestrian.
My heart jumped a few beats when I instinctively looked left and saw no cars coming and put one foot on the road only to look to the right and see a truck (pardon me, a lorry) coming right at me from the right. It would have been a horrible way to die. No one would like their tombstone to read "Died looking the wrong way while crossing the road."
Fortunately in Central London, they had signs for pedestrians at crosswalks telling you to "look right." I wonder how many people died before they put those signs up.
Moral of the story: in a new country, always look both left and right several times before committing your foot to the road.
Recently on my flight from London to Paris, I was going through security at London's Heathrow Airport. There was a long line, about 50 people ahead of me, and everything was running very very slow. Pretty soon, when it almost got to my turn to go through the metal detectors, an officer comes out of an inside office and walks straight towards me. He comes to me and says, "Excuse me sir, you have been selected for a random security check." He slightly emphasized the word "random" when he spoke but it was really really obvious what was going on here. When there were 50 white people in line in front of me, nothing happened at all. and when it is my turn, they start their "random" security checks.
But you have to give it to this guy, he did feel some guilt towards it. He was very apologetic in his manner. He said, "I am really sorry sir, but this will only take a few minutes and when you are done, you will be bumped to the front of the queue." He then gives me some sort of twisted choice, he asks me, "Would you like to go through the extensive security check?" Now I know a trick question when I see one. I could imagine what the possible outcome would be if I had said "no". I also admired their cunning because they made it seemed like you had a choice when you clearly had none.
The guy then takes me to a biometric scanning machine and reassures me that I have nothing to worry, the low amount of radiation it emits is perfectly safe. Somehow I would have been less worried had he not mentioned that. After a serious of weird poses, which I am sure anyone watching would have found hilarious, I was told that we were done. Good thing I didn't have any carry-on luggage or else they would have been looking inside the seams of my bag and what not.
The officer was true to his word and got me to the front of the line. The whole thing took about 2 minutes, and I jumped ahead of 15 people in the process. I wouldn't mind this at all, in fact I would hope to get picked again the next time I travel. But knowing the randomness of their methods, I am sure the odds for that is very likely.
I feel very good today. Maybe it was the weather or something. It is very cold here. When I woke up to drop my brother off at school, it was 19 degrees Fahrenheit. It has been brisk and windy all morning. The cold was partially responsible for waking me up early and I got dressed and got into work before everyone else. I also wore a tie today, which is not something I do too frequently. So what could the reason be for this change in my mood? I would like to think that it has something to do with the feeling of coming out clean and not having something weighing on your conscience.
It started when I first built my PC. I got my hard drive and I set about installing an OS on it. I had a genuine Microsoft Windows XP CD with a genuine Product Key. I also had a pirated CD with its own Product Key. The pirated version was newer and already had Service Pack 2 included where as the genuine CD would have required the installation of Service packs 1 and 2 after installation. Being the lazy person that I am, and not wanting to go through the hassle of installing service packs afterwards, I went ahead and installed the pirated version. Life was normal, nothing happened for a while. Everything was alright.
Then good old Microsoft was tired of all this piracy and started clamping down. They released the Genuine Windows Notifier which would pop up and tell you in very diplomatic manner that "You may be a victim of software counterfeiting" which was a nice way of saying, "We are on to you fools!" The succeeded in making the notification very annoying and resorted to old fashioned guilt trip sometimes in trying to make you spend $149 to buy a genuine Product Key. I searched around the Internet and discovered methods of disabling the notification which was a momentarily relief.
Last night, Windows Media Player 10 asked to be updated and I said "why not?" and I clicked on the update button. Then I saw that I was being updated to Windows Media Player 11. after the update, the installation began and the first dialog box said that Windows needed to be validated before installation could continue, and I would see the familiar "You may be a victim of software counterfeiting" screen. Frak! WMP 10 was gone and WMP 11 wouldn't install. I was screwed.
I searched around and tried to find ways to disable the validation or make it pass some how. But after a while, I thought if I could just change the product key for the legitimate one I already had. I downloaded the plug-in from the counterfeiting page and it ran a wizard which allowed me to see my current product ID. It also gave me an option there to change the Product ID. After downloading that program from the Microsoft website and entered my new Product Key. A couple of restarts later, I was able to log in to a genuine copy of windows. no more annoying notifications, WMP 11 working fine, and most importantly, no guilt for having done something wrong. I slept blissfully last night, and the feeling has continued to this morning.
It is not often that you come across movies such as these. "Thank you for Smoking" is simply great. The cast is wonderful and the acting is great. The dialogue is sharp and witty and the writing is unlike I have seen ever before. This movie is worth seeing just for its entertainment value alone. This comedy had me laughing through out the movie. And unlike the modern comedies of questionable taste (such as dodgeball) this movie makes us laugh because of it's wit.
The movie, although about a tobacco lobbyist, has a more broader reaching message about lobbies in general. Before anyone is mistaken, this movie is not at all about whether smoking is good or bad. Tobacco is just used as a familiar front for all lobbies in general. There are in fact three other lobbies portrayed where the lobbyists internally refer themselves as the MOD Squad standing for "Merchants of Death". Highlighting how everything we see in the media has a certain spin on it, the movies main message is, people should be smart enough to decide for themselves. It also argues the moral issues with such an act, especially how the main character tries to explain to his son what he does. He proves to be an excellent role model for his son.
The movie raises some interesting points, the main one being, as long as you can back up what you say, you are not wrong. Also, people should learn to see through the deception advertising and lobbies portray over issues. There are always two sides to a story. These important issues are presented in a very entertaining fashion.
I must recommend this movie to everyone. I loved its message, but what I loved more about the movie was its general entertainment value. Its hard to find good comedies these days. A really funny comedy with a great cast and a good message? That's even rarer.
I never try to make any points. But if you read carefully, there is a point in there somewhere. In this blog, I will write about anything that I find of interest going on in the world and give my 2 cents on it.
And to all those who are unfamiliar with Cricket, search for Silly Point in google to find out what it is.
Yeah, thats what everyone keeps on asking me, what does MCMLXXXII mean? If our education system was better, everyone would know what it means. Reminds me of a Simpsons episode ... "Think, Bart. Where have you seen Roman numerals before? I know...Rocky V ['vee']! That was the fifth one. So, Rocky five plus Rocky two equals...Rocky VII! 'Adrian's Revenge'!"