Sunday, November 23, 2008


Since the great passing out of the NITC 2004-2008 batch in the mid of May 2008, there has been just one thing that 400 odd NITCians all over the world have been looking forward to. And its called a bloody Convocation !

Okay I admit, I'm frustrated, and college sick. No, not sick of college, as in, you know, home-sick doesnt mean sick of home, so, you understand what I mean. I cant wait to meet friends. Old teachers. The old places and hangouts. The classrooms even, yes, I loved them. And the officially recognised last date for doing this is the NITC 2004-2008 batch convocation date. Unfortunately, such a date doesnt exist. Not yet

Every NITcian at any place, wherever he meets up, I think this question is bound to arise. A typical NITcians conversation.h header file :

NITCian 1 : Hi.. how are you.. long time no see..

NITcian 2 : Hey.. how are you..
Heard anything about the convocation?

NITCian 1 : Nope.. last I heard, it was supposed to be held in December 2nd week.. but there was a chance it could happen in 3rd week also
NITcian 2 : Haha thats old info.. latest I heard, it been shifted to last week.. and if there is no time it might be in Jan too..

And so on...

So far, The convocations 'tentative' date has been shifted and delayed soo long now that its giving new definitions to the word 'tentative'. The 'latest' info keeps on changing every few hours. Me and co-NITcian Naren are in the process of finding new sources of information about the ever-so-secretive convocation date, as if it was High Sensitivity Military intelligence. Nope, not even CIA would have a chance at this one for sure.

Last I heard (and you should be laughing at that phrase by now), it has been fixed for Jan 10th. Plus or minus a few months I'm sure.

It seems that even after one year of missing NITC life and yearning to see it, the NITC beauracracy is bent on not allowing us to go for a moment without bitching about our system. It sucks ! having to wait so long to know.. Its just a degree certificate distribution after all, and most of the fun is in the meeting up.. So why make such a fuss about the event ?

Nevertheless we poor souls will, until then, keep betting on the date, calling up everyone from the Director to the Profs down to the students to catch on any rumours about the reportedly 'prestigious' event called a convocation.. Until then..

P.S : 'Latest' Highly confidential reports state that the 'latest' "tentative" date of the convocation is an evenly spread probability among all the saturdays in January, which includes 3rd, 10th, 17th and 24th. Wonder why they wont include Feb too

Monday, November 17, 2008

A 'Novel' definition of freedom

(Warning : High FOSS Content)

A really depressing incident that happened at the recent National Conference on Free Software 2008. The event was widely hailed as a major example of how a government initiative is being taken to promote FOSS. Little did the public know that the people to do with the event were neither people who had any sort of experience/contributions in the field of FOSS, neither were they people who were in any sort of touch with what is called 'FOSS Philosophy'.

Bottom line : A 'Boycott Novell' Protester is manhandled at the apparently 'Free and Open' national conference. Why? Because he chose to make public his views on why a proprietary corporate like 'Novell' (which is widely regarded as Microsoft's playpawn against the rise of GNU/Linux) should be the main sponsor for such an event.

To go right to the story, here :

Read Anivar's full storyon his blog post here - a complete account, and you will appreciate the situation even more if you know what the political atmosphere at CUSAT is like (I have been there, I know).

To cut it short
- Yes, Novell Software (makers of Open SUSE) is no longer one of the heroes of the FOSS world, it has changed its stance well enough to make it no longer 'FOSS' in the true sense of the word. That even 'Open SUSE' may no longer be accepted in all circles as abiding to the GPL.

- Novell turns out to be main sponsor for the above mentioned Conference. Now what they are doing here, dont ask me. Its a sure joke on the moral groundwork for the conference anyway.

-Anivar Aravind, a major Open source activist in Kerala, and also a former student of CUSAT, was at the conference representing SMC along with many others (a FOSS Malayalam computing organisation).

Anivar and other SMC members had previously (on Saturday) taken a workshop on language translation and localisation, and language computing, at the request of the organisers themselves. Ofcourse, seeing the main sponsor being a familiar former friend turned enemy, some of the activists there decided to spread the word about why Novell can be dangerous to freedom, through posters.

Nevertheless, there were some pretty good posters depicting 'novel' ways to spread awareness. 'Say no to against 'Microvell' was one of my favorites.

So, as is obvious to anyone, you dont insult the main sponsor and get away with it ! :). The organisers spent no time in setting the police onto the people behind the incident. Who incidentally were invited guests only 24 hours ago. Ofcourse, no one really cared to ask whether the organisers ever knew what they meant by Free and Open source at all.

Or perhaps the world itself is still confused on what it means to be free :). I still know people who think using pirated Microsoft OS's means theyre promoting Free Software. (Aah.. thats what you thought too, isnt it ? :) )

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Long time no Tag !

Aaaaah... long time no tag.. and since I'm still fishing for topics (being winter, the fish arent biting), time to go for one.. I've got this one from Abhi..

The Tag

Two questions from the past, present and future. Answer them and then tag your friends from the blog-o-sphere. Leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been tagged and DONE.

Yesterday - Rewind..

Your oldest Memories..

Ooooldest memory.. maybe I was 2 years old.. a virtual horror movie I had in a lift in my apartments (Dubai). I was playing with a ball, which fell and got stuck in the lift doorway. Then the lift suddenly stopped, leaving us stranded between 2 floors. I faintly recall the firemen having to help us out of the lift. Luckily, mom was there to give me a saree to hold on to and blare away, while she took all the tension :).

What were you doing 10 years ago...

1998.. I am a teenager in the 7th standard in Sharjah Indian School, a peaceful Indian school in Sharjah, UAE. 2nd term exams are over by now, and the UAE national day is about to come up. Hence it is almost festival time, with Sheikh Zayeds photos and the flag and lights put up everywhere. Since it is vacation time, and I am blasting away on the computer playing games !


Your first thought in the morning

Naren is calling me at 6.40 am, waking me up to go jogging with him. My thoughts are : "Oh, why the hell do I have a mobile? Why did he have to wake me up? Why did he have to remember me and call me too ? Doesnt he have any other job at 6.40 in the morning?... Waah, I wanna sleeeeeeeppp....." (Ultimately and surprisingly I did end up going for the jogging session :) )

If you built a time-capsule today, what would it contain ?

A backup of my entire hard disk, thats for sure. All my Photos, Documents, E-books collections, Songs, Movies, that would be enough of a time capsule for me. And yes, wikipedia, (sorry Abhi, couldnt help that one). Wikipedia is the largest definition of 'knowledge' in the world ! And yes, all Youtube videos qualifies too..


This year ?

What year? Years over, dude !

Hmm, but in the next one year, I will have made some of what they call 'progress' in what I call 'research' here at NTU. I will have compiled 5 reports, a couple of papers, bunch of literature reviews, made a hundred presentations, attended half a dozen courses, met a thousand people, gone to all over Singapore and the adjoining Malaysia, Thailang and Indonesia, added a 100 more contacts to Gchat, and yea, become a total nutcase bugged with life.

Man, I seriously hope not !

What you see yourself doing 14 years from now ...(This sure is a weird tag :) )

14 years. I'm 37 years old ! I'm probably working as a scientist in some defense laboratory in India. Or I'm a lecturer in the Electronics or Electrical department at NIT Calicut, my alma mater. That was quick and highly specific, wasnt it ?

I tag

Aha ! Well, I'm not forcing it on anyone at all :).. So this tag, its open to all, up for the takes, but yea, heres a list of people I think should do it :

- Naren, on his Universal Monism
- My Dear (ex)roommate Drunken Mind, when he chooses to reminise
- Chathan, on his Quest beyond eternity
- Mahesh Mahadevan : Dude ! I just wanna know what you're upto :)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Aah..Life's got a long time to go..

Thats how we always feel about our life.. and death.. That we've got a loong time to live, so we can take it for granted.

We never realise that anyday anytime someone we know, someone who is close to us, can just stop in his tracks. Immobile. Paralysed. Unconcscious. Or worse, those four most feared letters. xxxx.

I bet you that you just rejected that thought from your mind now. Its natural of us to do it. When we think of it, we just leave 'death' as something that is not for us. "I'm young, I've got a loong life, so I can do anything to my body, take risks, smoke, eat uncontrollably, and I'll still live".. Yes, many of us do this often, and take our health or lifeline for granted. Or even if you dont smoke, have a good diet, exercise regularly, etc, theres still plenty of scope for something bad to happen anytime. Lets just call it Fate.

I read a book that says that the human mind tends to make jokes about subjects that trouble it the most, that way tryin to defend itself from its own fear. Its an inbuilt mechanism. Have you ever thought about the immeasurably large amount of humour made on death? Type death humour in google and you'll get plenty to keep you laughing. And movies, what about them? For one, I suggest you see a movie like 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang'.. I saw the movie and was surprised that some of the most comic scenes in the movie that left me rolling over with laughter were the death scenes.

Or you can check out the phenomena of 'Gallows humour' about people making humour in their darkest situations. Believe me, that wiki link has got some nice jokes :)

But the seriousness of that dreaded word 'death'.. I come face to face with this reality now after news I hear about people around me. Friends, relatives, parents. People in bad health. Such news forces you to accept things. Things that you took for granted before. And yet after all these happenings I hear around me everyday, I still think I'm meant to live longer and hence dont need to worry about it. I'm just : 'Meant' to live. After all, the average life expectancy of an Indian is around 50 or so, right ? . And yet, someone in, say, South India, doesnt think twice when he hears that a few people were killed in Kashmir, or a bomb blasted in Assam and 76 people died. To him it is something far away and nothing concerning him. Similarly, to someone in the north, the bangalore blasts or the Tsunami, say, is just another news to catch on tv.

Well, so what about it, I cant go fearing our own shadow now can I. No, what I can do is enjoy life while it lasts. And accept that a sudden stop can come to anyody around us anytime . So from now on I'll just be prepared for it. And not take life for granted.

[ Sorry if that post was a scary one. Theyre just thoughts I wanted to let out. Maybe I should add a disclaimer at the top soon :) ].