Wednesday, July 02, 2008


UI = (you) Vs (i)

Its pretty obvious ain't it? All the times it ends up being what design 'you' the developer thinks of(if at all one bothers to think, as there are many UI examples out there pointing to the contrary) Vs what 'i' the user needs. And when both coincide, you get some amazing products. Example that immediately comes to mind when you say good UI?
Apple of course. iPod, you notice the 'i' there? its no coincidence, its there to show that emphasis is on 'i' the user. (Ok, i just made up that last part, but i think the Apple guys did name it, with that in mind ;) ).

Other good UI examples would be Google(gmail, gtalk, reader), Gnome's SLAB Menu, Flock al.
And bad UI examples...well here's a nice comic which gives you an idea. :)

Beauty in simplicity. We know that. But still many of us choose to ignore the KISS principle! Why? Maybe that, all those years of education, robbed us of the ability to think simple. Or as they say, maybe its the case of being afflicted with 'improve beyond use' syndrome.

On a side note: was searching for a Blogger link in Gmail in the quick links section at top left corner in Gmail and found a 'Blogs' in the more section but surprise!surprise! it leads to Blog Search and not blogger! When Photos,Reader,Orkut links take me to my Picasa,Google Reader and Orkut page respectively, isn't it reasonable to expect Blogs to take me to my blogger page?
Wonder when Google will correct this.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


He he, this basically nullifies my previous post. :)
Slam No. 4 for Rafa and man did he make it look like a cake walk! :D
Before the start of the match i was feeling sad that i wouldn't be able to watch the entire match as i had to attend 10 'o clock show of '21' @ Inox. But then quickly realized i didn't have any cause for it. Thanks to Rafa, no its more thanks to Federer for finishing it in just 108 minutes. :) So all those people who were just waiting to proclaim Federer as the greatest ever, wait for one more year at least, if not forever... :P

'21' was not as good as i thought it would be. Come on you can depict Vegas much better than that! . And you can so do away with all that hollywoodization, the cliched 'best friends ignored' track, soppy romantic track, jealousy...i mean why introduce a 5-10min plot line just for heck of it? Well don't mind, it was quite an enjoyable movie, but the problem for me was that there was no freshness about it, apart from the basic plot.

As result of watching '21', i missed F1 :( I reached home just when press conference had started and to see Kubica, Heidfield and Coultard was shocking to say the least. I did see the pit-lane mishap recap but somehow can't help feeling that i missed out on some good live action.

'n yea, now Germany beat Poland. :)

On a side-note i finally managed to read 'Hobbit' today. :) The decision to read it was rekindled by the LOTR dvds 've been watching these days. Its this boxed set, with 4 dvd's per each part so 12 in all. Any serious LoTR fan should possess this. :)
The making i.e the Appendices part though long(2 dvds per each part) is amazing. While watching that today morning, my Dad remarked if i was planning to go into film-making and man do i wish that i was part of it! :)

Anyways sleep beckons,

Friday, May 23, 2008

tough draw?

Youzhny, Nalbandian, Djokovic and Federer.
Thats how Nadal's route to French Open title will look, i.e of course if others mentioned don't lose before.

But not much of that happening to Federer who has been blessed with almost a free ride to the final, with only worthwhile opponents he may meet before being David Ferrer in Semi-finals. Actually even his is slightly better compared to Djokovic, who has a walk in the park.

Contrast that with Nadal's, tough draw gets a whole new meaning. Murray, Youzhny, Nalbandian! So even if Djokovic doesn't finish him off in semi-finals, he will ensure Federer will have a complete worn-out Nadal to pick off. Unless of course Nadal plays exceptionally brilliant to win all the before matches in 3 sets. In which case one may say he still has a chance. But what are the chances of that happening? What with he not being at his physical best, suffering from a hamstring injury that he got while defeating Federer at Hamburg last week.

But wouldn't it be just brilliant if with all that somehow he manages to retain the title? And stay undefeated at the Roland Garros. That i think would be amazing, if through the entire career one can stay undefeated at a Grand Slam. I'm not aware if anyone has done it before?

Anyways thats a dream, what with fate almost conspiring that it never happens, with the draw and the injury.

Friday, May 16, 2008

few linux pains....

Yesterday i was trying to get microphone working on my opensuse 10.3 box, with Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) High Definition Audio Controller soundcard. And this post is about the pains i encountered during it.
After running alsaconf, 'n messing around with alsamixer settings for some time, realized it wasn't going to be such an easy job. Then tried the YaST sound, but even after much permutations/combinations with soundcard parameters that google threw up, it failed to configure. So after some more googling, failed to give any concrete solution, thought let me upgrade alsa.
And thats when my troubles started or so i think it did, since 'm not still aware what is the root cause.
> downloaded all the alsa-10.6 packages from the website.
> configure, make and install goes through without an itch
> reboot
> I try logging in and lo it throws up the usual gnome error box of 'your session lasted less than 10s, if you haven't logged out yourself...blah...blah'.

Clicking on the details, gave me some sabayon failures in the log which didn't make any sense to me. So after googling and asking around few colleagues, came to know sabayon can be safely removed without doing much harm. Wait i forgot to mention, before you think that i was stuck to command line, there is a surprise, when i tried root or any other user, the log-in went through just fine. So me was left scratching my head, as what could be the problem, since if it was alsa, i think everything should've cribbed right?
Well anyways so removed sabayon 'n the gnome_admin which depended on sabayon, (btw its interesting what all you learn, 'coz of this i came to know there's something called these two, 'n they take care of user profiles 'n such). And anyone would be forgiven to think it would work after this, but life is never so it? So the sabayon errors go, but the log-in still fails. And now 'm at wits end, as it doesn't even hint at whats the problem.
And this is the account which had all my development environment, music, mail, browser, compiz fusion settings...everything. Now importing all those profiles into a new user acc...not a job one would fancy.
So was trying to think of easier way out, so then since it looked like some issue with user profile, thought if i create a new user and point the home directory to this, it should work. Wishful thinking. :( Didn't make any difference except waste my time. And all this happened yesterday night, so today morning thought no point wasting more of my time, so did what i should've done longtime back, copied the data, profiles etc.

But the issue still remains and can't even file a bug, as i don't know what to file against. Not knowing whats the issue seriously pains. So now 'm throwing it up as an open challenge, so if there is someone who can't resist such a puzzling one - solution, pointers to solution, debugging...nething is most welcome :).

'n here's the very detailed informative message i get -
/etc/X11/xim: Checking whether an input method should be started.
/etc/X11/xim: user environment variable LANG=en_US.UTF-8
sourcing /etc/sysconfig/language to get the value of INPUT_METHOD
INPUT_METHOD is not set or empty (no user selected input method).
Trying to start a default input method for the locale en_US.UTF-8 ...
There is no default input method for the current locale.

'n btw before there used to be sabayon error messages between the default input and SESSION_MANAGER lines.

'n yea, the whole reason this whole thing started - microphone, i just checked it is working. But it hadn't when i checked last night, life mysteries what can i say...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Share with a note

what a nice surprise i had just a few minutes back!
I finally get to see the feature i wanted since i started using google reader! :)
more specifically just beside the 'Share', you now see a 'Share with note'. Ain't that cool?
Whenever i shared an item before, I always wished there was a way to share my views/thoughts on it...ain't that the whole point of sharing? :)
But yea now you can! :D

Pls: Whats pending is the ability to have discussions, which i believe is coming soon. :)

Sunday, April 13, 2008


for a lack of better title... :P
So yea, just came back up after watching the Arsenal vs Man U match. A very good match, Arsenal for da nth time conceding goals very cheaply after taking the lead. And one thing, which was hard to digest was, Adebayor claiming the hand goal. I mean thats something which one wouldn't associate with Arsenal, ok agreed its an individual issue. So thats what i don't understand, take any sport for example cricket etc how/why do players do this?

Anyways coming to books, this is long time pending. I finally finished the Dune trilogy two weeks back. This was unique in that all 3 books i read, was on different medium. The first book 'Dune' was an e-book. This i had read almost a year back. But somehow didn't fancy reading the others on comp, hence da gap. Then i got hold of the audiobook of 'Dune Messiah', which i listened to on ipod, whole of feb month during my commute to work. Having never been brought up with parents/grandparents reading me stories, this was one wonderful experience. Audiobooks have their own charm, guess 've fallen in love with them. So next one on my ipod list is the 'Chronicles of Narnia' :). Btw for all those other book/story lovers - subscribe to 'The Classic Tales Podcast', if you haven't done already.'N yes coming to the third book, i got it for only Rs 60 during this book hunting with candle. :)

'N here are the the movies i watched over the last four days, in the order i watched them-

> The Pursuit Of Happyness-
Based on a true life story, it is one inspiring movie. Watching it i realized how far along we've come in life, Chris Gardner's hardships reminded me of the hard days faced by my father, when he had only 25ps in his pocket 'n buying a single Kg of rice was difficult. But somehow he brought us up through all that, providing us with a good education 'n never making us feel deprived of anything/anyone. Yea it was one emotional watching, just making me realize how i owe so much to him and compared to the older generation how we had/have things so much easier.

> Juno
I don't think 've to say much about this, as i guess ppl shd already be knowing a lot. A fun movie, with good soundtrack.

> Into the wild
This is again based on a true-life story and once more a very inspiring movie. I guess anything is inspiring when you can relate your life with it. 'n i could relate so well to Christopher McCandless. Somehow 've always felt that 'm not a city person...hmmm....maybe everyone feels that way?

> Eternal Sunshine of a spotless mind
Well nice movie, concept, good performances but could have done with some serious editing in the middle.

> Lord of War
Another based on a true incident movie. But somehow felt it lacked the punch which 'blood diamond' had. Where blood diamond hits you in the gut, this one chills you with the cold-blooded, business view of the whole thing. And what chills you the most and makes you shiver is the 'Based on true life incident' at the end.

> Guns of Navarone
old classic, Gregory peck.

guess thats pretty much about it.

Monday, March 03, 2008 support for pidgin

This Sunday, played around with musictracker plugin for pidgin to make it support This was one niggling requirement for some time now. Most often I end up playing songs on a diff m/c than the one i run pidgin on, for variety of reasons - 'm playing songs off of my ipod through iTunes or 'm listening to through the browser/player itself or i would feel like listening on speakers which are connected to a different m/c or particular song/album is on that m/c...
Anyways as i googled for some plugin to meet my needs, came to know that many people apart from me, were also looking for one such 'n not finding one, decided to write one myself :) 'N as a good software programmer that i am, who knows the true potential of re-usability, realized its much "easier" to just extend musictracker plugin to support this feature than write one from scratch. ;)

And thats how my journey of realizing how much i had forgotten and re-learning started. To start with, it was almost a year since i had coded in 'c'. I had/have become this eclipse-spoon-fed Java developer. The only times i use 'vi', is occasionally when i open some files to do some basic editing. So here i was doing some pretty normal coding, nothing major, 'n i had such difficulty! I'd forgotten most of the 'vi' short-cuts apart from the basic 'yy' 'dd' 'n 'p'. So that took some re-learning.

Then there was the really paining autotools problem. I add a .c file to the source project, add the corresponding entry to, run ./configure and it doesn't compile! It ignores it completely as though there was no change. So spend couple of minutes checking, re-checking, getting totally worked up and it still doesn't work. Then from somewhere from my long-forgotten past-life came a thought - could it be that its the bootstrap problem? which basically means you run the aclocal,autoconf...etc commands 'n most importantly run 'libtoolize --force --copy'. And this is something which i hope gets corrected - "No one looks at ./configure output" So if there's no error in bold at the end of its run, user will assume that everything went fine. So whenever there's a mismatch between autoconf versions, its not a minor warning it should be major.

Anyways writing the code itself was pretty easy. It involved downloading the recent tracks file from and getting the first entry from that. 'n yeah since audioscrobbler places restriction on how many times you can access it in a given time, had to do a check on the last modified time of the file, and download it only if its more than 30s. Ran into couple of issues using wget, so ended up using curl. Most of the other stuff was just interfacing with musictracker code - set the artist/track/status information, support to configure/store user name in preferences...

Remaining part is 've to put up this code somewhere, but then again, right now its only for linux 'n my guess is the people who want this are mostly on windows :) But modifying this to support windows should be easy and not take more than half an hour.

Thats it from me, will update this blog when i upload the plugin code somewhere.

You can get the plugin here.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bad, bad server. No donut for you.

was on orkut after a long time, and encountered this, 'n couldn't stop chuckling to myself...whatever may change but somethings will never change... :)

Friday, February 22, 2008

girl + linux/tech + floyd/rock/metal... + football/F1... = Anomaly

this post has genesis in the shout i received yesterday -
"u r full of anomalies.....first of all Pink Floyd is ur fav band and second u use amarok"

hmm...well this is not the first time 'm receiving such a comment, have received a fair amount of them in recent years...'n my reactions to them also have evolved over time, from initial outright denial to slow acceptance of the fact...

I would like to think there are more of my species 'n that the lesser numbers is 'coz the general male:female ratio is already so high... :) yeah i know guys out there are already saying wishful :)
Well recently became a member of linuxchix, which is involved in increasing the number of girls using as an answer to one of the following shouts -
"well god should make more girls like you", i can say atleast one issue is getting addressed... :)

But as far as music is concerned 'm really not sure... :( Ofcourse i can go on 'n on abt the beauty of floydian music, but if the person doesn't like it, you can't do much about it can you...? 'coz myself have come across many guys who still listen to insipid boy/girl bands, overly commercialized, fed to masses hip-hop i don't think this can be generalized into a girls/guys a different vein, i think only a real connoisseur can appreciate the great stuff, so for other normal ppl, pink floyd will be just 'We don't need no education'....

'n sports...hmm...well honestly haven't come across many guys who follow football/tennis/F1, i think it would be fair to say cricket is pretty universally folllowed in India (i know, world famous in india types :D) regardless of asl...while trying to think of how to get women into sports, i was reminded of this sexist fark comment i had come across long time back..."Women learn to talk football so they can develop relationships with the dreamboats that populate sports bars"... :D he he...maybe thts ur solution...your propoganda may go something like imagine all da shy,good-looking,nerdy guys you can meet...darn tht previous sentence didn't come off well...infact it sounds down right crappy... :P Neways again remembered this brilliant write up i had read sometime back - The Nerd Handbook... i think you can pretty much base your stuff on that... :)

'n yea forgot 'Gaming'...that is the last one of my friend remarked the other day - 'If only you gamed, you would be one of us!" But sadly i don't think i will ever cross it, somehow can't imagine myself sitting in front of comp and twiddling at buttons...infact when wii first came out, i thought now here's something i can start gaming with....well 'm still waiting to lay my hands on one... :(

Well on a serious note, don't think these can be generalized as a guy/girl thing...'coz among many of my male colleagues 'm the biggest tech/sports/music freak...
I feel generalizations most often give an exaggerated picture of how the things are...TOI is a classic example for this... take a topic , generalize on the extreme end to sensationalize ofcourse, there's no fun in medians is thr? and go on debating on it. Sometimes i wonder are they dumbing(i know thrz no such word) us down...or are we already so dumb?

Off topic - today just came across the new google talk gadget, you can emebed in your sites/blogs, allowing the visitors to directly chat with you, similar to meebo...but thn yea this is Google! :D :P Already embedded it in this blog but sadly it seems therez no chat log, i.e the chat session doesn't come in the gmail chat section...atleast not as yet... :)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Fat Free

This post is about an amusing incident that happened couple of hours ago. On my way back from work, i stopped over at foodworld to buy some essentials viz. Maggi 'n some chocs ( yep! they r quintessential for me :) )
Well so, I was at the billing counter when i saw this man in front of me with a big pack of Kellogs Chocos. Usually one can reasonably identify the crowd which buys such stuff, but this person nowhere looked like he belonged to one of them. It was the typical 'Blink' moment. For people who haven't read the book 'Blink', well it essentially means that your subconscious processes and arrives at conclusions much before your conscious mind kicks in. Well so in my case, my subconscious mind had already arrived at the conclusion that somehow the person and kellogs didn't fit. So one thought went like "Not bad, If people like them are buying Kellogs!" before it was rudely interrupted by another "Shame on you puthali, Don't prejudice based on appearances, appearances don't maketh the man". And so I silently stood, awaiting my turn. When the person suddenly asks the billing lady for 'Fat Free' which was written on the carton. I was about to laugh when the billing lady, whom i thought would clear the poor chap's misconception, called out to another girl in telugu: "This guy wants some fat free, check it out". Somehow tht laughter vanished and i just stood thr speechless...

Now while writing this, i was wondering how wonderful weird this place has become due to globalization 'n everything. Some english words, have just become an inseparable part of people's lives, even of those who don't know english. So, here was this billing girl, who knew only telugu and then there was the kannadiga, both of knew what 'Free'(an english word) meant in the sense of 'free soap, free battery...' but not 'Fat free' :) Well one can't blame them also, 'm here reminded of the famous Big B's dialogue from Namak Halaal, 'n 'm gonna promptly end this post with that :)

"You see sir, I can talk English, I can walk English, I can laugh English,
because English is a very funny language."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


This is a real cool, nifty thing i came across yesterday. What happened was, yesterday was copying some of my muzak frm my dvd coll to HD, when i came across Johnny Cash's 'Man in Black' album and me thinks why not give it a spin, its been a long time. So i do just that, but then i see, the file is an album wrap! Now ppl will know tht its a Pain! First thing there's no easy way of jumping tracks and then couple tht with scrobbling screwups!
'M probably a bit like Monica(frm F.R.I.E.N.D.S,if you didn't get it) when it comes to ID3 tags. My fingers start itching, whenever i see a badly tagged mp3. I can't understand how some(probably most?) ppl don't seem to be bothered with badly tagged files! Correcting 'em will hardly take few minutes!
But 'm digressing here, this post is abt mp3splt. So yes, after coming across that, i started googling for some mp3 splitter. I remembered using one on windows ages back. Anyways landed up at this page. And was I in for a pleasant surprise! It fitted my requirement to a T!

-w "wrap mode" - used to split file created with mp3Wrap or AlbumWrap. This should have worked out perfectly for me but that would have been too perfect wouldn't it? It threw up some error saying the file is corrupt, /me guesses it might have been something to do with changing IDv3 tags.

Anyways later on i messed around for a lot of time with
-c "CDDB mode" - and man this would've been such an amazing feature, if only one can find proper CDDB files! And I realized what an hell CDDB file format is! Infact the first result in google tells that, type "CDDB file format" in google and check out the first result! If google doesn't revise/update its algorithm/page ranks, then you will land up here. :)

Finally i ended up using
-s "silent mode" option, which worked out pretty well.

Note: its 'mp3splt' and not 'mp3split', i wasted sometime while trying to d/w it, by overlooking this. :(


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Blogger Label Search

Yesterday was playing around with my mindtrail blog, trying to add a 'notable posts' section. The idea was to add a label to the posts and just put up a link to the label search. Everything went fine but for two issues.

> Somehow when i did a search, not all posts with the label were appearing. Totally weird i know! Seemed to me like blogger had some issue with displaying more number of results. Anyways googled it, seeing if thr is already some known issue. The nice thing abt google is, you needn't have to go thru' the links, the answer is displayed on the search page itself(depends on how good your query is ofcourse ;) ). So without delving deeper tried doing "http://yourblog/search/label/?max-results=100 Is it as simple as that?" and it worked! Now 've no clue how or why it should make any difference.

> Second was, i did not want labels to be shown for each post. But somehow couldn't figure out how to do it. Probably because i still haven't upgraded the template of that blog and most of the probable solutions were related to new template mechanism.

Anyways talking about power of google search, was reminded of a very cool query hack which i use a lot these days. With the cricket season on, all one needs to do is type 'live cricket score' in one's FF google search box, and presto you get the latest score!

No need to go to any specific site and you escape the load times, plus for any onlooker, it just looks like any other google search page. :)