Monday, 14 September 2009

Picture Perfect

I finally could take up photography seriously as a hobby. 2 hours at Lalbagh on a breezy Sunday morning with my shiny new Canon SX10 and the results were pretty impressive. You can check them out here.

As it turned out, the pictures inspired the poet in my friend. And he's what she came up with. Thanks Jyo!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

O my Goad!

Text Color
Google's auto-suggest 'Did you mean' works in a number of intuitive ways.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Workplace Wisdom

Its been a year now, living a techie's life. Here's some wisdom that I mean to share.

[Hover mouse to appreciate]
Have you heard of this thing - which is like the slowest killer known to man. Our assasin is stealthier than a B2 bomber, yet slower than a field snail. In fact the victim is even paid for it. What's more, they even have a neat name for it. Its called a job.

[click to appreciate]
The tip of my hat to all the non-typical days at work. Its the typical day that bothers me.

[click to appreciate]
The perfect workplace is the one that has the right blend of all the constituents. For starters, here's a recipe.

And a tribute to the ubiquitous euphemisms and management jargon.

On a closing note, here's a thought:
They say Work is Worship.
So maybe its sufficient to be a theist,
We don't need to be saints.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Go Green

[click to appreciate]
VK's... Helping people weed out troubles from their lives since 1986.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Happy Birthday Dear Internet

Vint Cerf's baby is baby is growing and how! Google today muscles through 20 petabytes of data every single day. The 10 billion user photos shared on Facebook take up in excess of 1 petabyte of storage space. German upload giant Rapidshare, declared way back in in April 2008 that it had 240 Gbps of allowable bandwidth and 5.4 petabytes of usable disk space. Memory no doubt is getting cheaper. The cost per gigabyte of data has dropped over the last decade from $31 in April '99 to a measly $0.17 today for the new Maxtor 1.5 TB disk. Fact is, as storage becomes cheaper and internet penetration and bandwidth available the world over soars, the internet growth curve will only get steeper. Even the gurus of internet today can't tell us what the 'size of the internet'(keeping aside the ambiguity of the term) maybe.

ethernet port2009 marks the 40 birthday of the internet. Applause! Its been 40 remarkable years since its conception as Defence and Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA's ARPANET. What is more interesting is how the web has matured from mere telnet and gophers to e-mails and to the current day cloud of social networking sites, wikis, portals, blogs and a gazillion other types of websites I'm unfamiliar with. So much so that search engines, thought of by everyone during the founding days of Google as a ridiculous and whacky concept, have today become an absolute necessity to find your needle in this ever growing haystack. Those of us who have been up there since the 90s will know how much things have transformed, right down to the narrowest of alleys of the world wide web. What has changed among other things is the language used. The chat lingo ushered in by the onslaught of IMs and IRC aside, the language of the common man's website is becoming more liberal. Enter Web 2.0.

If you're the kind of person who thinks people ought to be more specific when they're using the term mail to refer to snail mail or if you'd come running to your keyboard to google for "fonegrs struxk siperglye" rather than simply calling up your doc or you just think all mail ids are Gmail ids until mentioned otherwise, then in all likelihood you already have an inkling of what I'm talking about. Gone are the days when websites sounded as if they had been designed to be read by bots. In the early days of the net, it was funky to sound technical and sophisticated. Maybe even adding a hint of credibility during the early days of Web 1.0 and dot-com bubble later on. Ironical as it may sound, the world wide web come a full circle and we're back to where we started from.

A little touch of warmth always help, especially on a login page. That's someplace to start. login

Then there are the sign up forms that's we've all filled by the dozens. If you were to sign up on Digg, you'd be getting (much) more than what you'd ask for. After all why make signing up so cumbersome and mundane?

How can one fail to mention the nagging captcha. I've always hated captchas... All but this one.

Digg just doesn't sieze to amuse me!

Websites today don't treat you like a just-another-brick-in-the-wall-client who likes to tip toe into their office, be done with the business and just walk out the front door. Website are invariably getting more user-centric.

I can't think of a better example than Google. Their 'Official Google Blog' couldn't have been more unofficial. The Gmail team appears to enjoy discussing what's cooking in their cauldron as much as they enjoy delivering it. They tell you what the employees were doing during the holidays and share pics with you on their blog. Google shares its life and culture with you, as if you're one of them. They love to hear from you all the time on the Groups - be it your woes or your likes. Could you imagine that a decade ago? I wouldn't be surprised if Google itself was responsible for the institution of this culture. I'm all too glad that Google happened. I believe that the worst of disasters was averted the day Microsoft's attempt to merge with Google in the October of 2003 failed. If that deal had materialized, we'd probably be purchasing annual subscriptions to get organic search results and still be using a search engine that hanged every few minutes - very much unlike the Microsoft Live! that you see today.

To call it a day, my heart sings for Web 2.0! Life without it would be like watching a movie in black and white -everything is out there, but there's still something missing. Something significant that's leaving a lot of the fun out. Well you get the picture. Here is the disclaimer from's blog to wind it all up.

"Everything here is copyrighted by and the author of the respective article. Beware, our lawyers are stiff-lipped limeys without any sense of humour. And we have an office watch-moose!"

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Madhugiri Trek

Route to MadhugiriStarting Point: Bangalore
Destination: Madhugiri Fort
Date: 11th April '09
Distance: 250kms (Both ways)
Route: Bangalore - Dobbaspet - Koratagere - Madhugiri
Conveyance: Bike
Approx Cost: Rs.200 per head
Trek Pics: Madhugiri Trek

Madhugiri is a smallish town situated 100kms north of Bangalore in a geography dotted with numerous hillocks.Madhugiri Fort On the hill closest to the heart of the city sits this ancient fort constructed in the year 1601. Madhugiri betta has long been believed to be Asia's biggest monolith. Plan cleverly and you could also do any of Siddarabetta, Devarayana Durga or Chennarayanadurga as well.

The Plan
If its a weekend escape from Bangalore that you're looking at then to make the most of Madhugiri, drive there in your car or even better, your bike in the evening and embark on a night trek. I'm very particular about the night trek plans because the journey from Bangalore takes you almost 3 hours. So even if you leave early on a Saturday morning, by the time you hit the top it'll be high noon and the sun will bake the cookies out of you. Its far from fun and plain silly.


Madhugiri at nightInstead enjoy a leisurely night trek and wake up to a feast of a sunrise. And when you're at it be sure your plans are in sync Chandamama's itinerary else things could get slightly ugly. With ample moonlight the trek is a breeze; quite literally so. Without the sun threatening overhead, there's absolutely no rush to escape the agonizing heat. We took it real slow and completed our trek in 3 hours.

Getting there
The truth is that the 125km onward and return bike journey is what kills you back and legs. Even so, if you start in the evening from Bangalore, the ride gets pleasant once you leave the city - with the sun simmering down and the landscape slowly turning into a mix of fields and bushland with an occasional village or town accentuating human habitation. A full tank and a bunch of like minded fellow riders is all you need to enjoy the roads.
Take NH 4 (Tumkur Road) out of Bangalore and just ride on until you're at the Dobbaspet. The road having been constructed on a BOT basis is par excellence. Once at Dobbaspet take the road to the left of the flyover. This route will take you to Madhugiri via Koratagere. The sign overhead preceding the flyover is slightly misleading. The flyover will take you to Tumkur. Going to Madhugiri via Tumkur is longer by a good 10kms atleast. Dobbaspet is around 50kms from Bangalore. Its your gateway to the countryside and the ambiance thereafter is more vivid. You wouldn't want to ride at over 40kmph here. There are ample road signs all along.

The trek
Climbing MadhugiriThe fort is right next to the bus stand. There's a hotel there where you can help yourself to some food of extremely questionable hygiene. I highly recommend that you close you eyes or simply look away when the waiter brings water to your table.
The trek to the top takes less than 2 hours if its a night trek and maybe two and a half in broad daylight. Wear your favourite trekking shoes. A shoe offering good grip which you can count on, means you work is half done. The path is entirely rocky. In case your shoes are sloppy it'll make life that much more difficult for you.

The backsideThere nothing much to explore there. A lot of the natural historical beauty has been destroyed either by gross restoration work using mortar followed by a generous dash of whitewash or my hooligans lacking even an iota of civic sense. Everything apart from that is nice and beautiful. Once at the top may want to sleep on the roof of the building on the west side (back) of the main structure. But mind you, since the place is very breezy it will get chilly later in the night.

What to carry
You need not carry anything much actually. Just a little food, some water and a sleeping bag or a couple of blankets for the night will suffice.Sunrise as seen from the top of Madhugiri betta And of course torches if its a night trek. Your cams obviously go into your backpack without saying. Be sure to fill you fuel tanks when leaving B'lore. There are ample stations all along the way; but it leaves you with one less thing to worry about.
All said and done, plan what suits you best and get there and enjoy. Just keep one thing in mind - To leave the place just the way it was when you got there, and if possible better.

If there's anything else you want to know from me, just drop me a comment. A mail will do just as well. Cheers!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Wasted Talent

A mail landed in my inbox today morning. A spam mail - but as clean as a whistle. No wonder the spam filters couldn't get their hands onto it.

From : Elvis Jacob
I considered communicating to you through this medium believing that you will accept this offer in good faith. I am Elvis Jacob, the son of Jacob Lansana who lost his life on 22nd of December 2008, after a brief illness.
But the circumstance surrounding his death showed that he was poisoned as confirmed by the doctor. Before his death, he handed me over his will and the deposit information of the amount totalling 3.8 Million dollars which he deposited in a Finance house.
He told me that this money was meant for the development of his cocoa plantation and importing of machineries from his foreign partner in Europe for the development of the cocoa farm. So is not a drug or terrorist money. It is legal money.
My reason of contacting you is that according to his will, I cannot claim this money until I am 25yrs.
What I need from you is for you to stand as my foreign partner and receive this money and have it secure in your account in India until I come over to meet you. I will give you 10%. and you will also benefit from the investment. I took this brave decision because my uncles are after my life since their discovery that my late father willed all the money in my name.
I will give you further details as soon as I hear from you and how you can contact the bank director and open a direct communication with him as my foreign partner for the release and transferring of the fund into your account.
Elvis Jacob
Its surely a story way better than your typical "You have won a Sweepstakes lottery!!". Maybe its time he moved onto earning some white money from his weblog's Adsense.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Bachelor's Party

Even eligible females look for life partners...

Why then don't I ever see an ad like this one here?

Monday, 9 March 2009

Stop, Halt and Proceed

In Hampi, its not just the ruins of the Vijayanagara dynasty that you can see. There are the signboards. English has been reduced shambles, much to the chagrin of the European and American tourists. Come, grab a bite yourself.

Anti Pasta -A fine example anti-matter

Hygienic street-side food

We serve excellent Italian multi-cuisine

Say, who be serving the Spoonish?

And the New coins, please move on..

Any style cups of tea on a lonly planet.. Yumm!

Ya.. The board say it all!

I mean, the broadband is really broad

I'm at a complete loss of words

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Brahmagiri Trek

Starting Point: Bangalore
Places Visited: Iruppu Falls, Narimela betta, Pakshipatalam, Brahmagiri, Thirunelli Temple
Dates:26th - 28th December '08
Distance: 700kms (Each Both ways)
Conveyance: Bus
Approx Cost:Rs.700 per head (for a group of thirteen )
Album Links: My album and PV's album

Bangalore (- Mysore -) Gonikoppa - Srimangala - Iruppu Falls - Narimela betta / Forest Guest house (- Pakshipatalam -) Brahmagiri - Thirunelli Temple - Kutta - Gonikoppa (- Mysore -) Bangalore

A thoroughly enjoyable trip, this one. One, thanks to Vyshant's meticulous preparation and two, the trip was more than just trekking... We cooked our own food in style!

We were 13 in all. Maybe it was not just a co-incidence that we chose to be 13 in total. How does it even matter?! We left late on a Friday night from Bangalore's Satellite Bus station on Mysore Road by the 11:45pm bus to Gonikoppa. We reached before the break of dawn, at 4:45am the next day, after touching Mysore at 2:15am. Pretty fast for a Karnataka sarige, you must admit. The details of the journey aren't all too entertaining. So I'll just tell you what you'd need to know when planning your own trek.

The Plan
Brahmagiri is one among the several mountains of Narimela betta. The ideal thing to do is to stay in the forest guest house on the top overnight and leave early the next morning for Brahmagiri. The best time of the year to visit Brahmagiri would be October-November, when the grass is still green, yet not too wild to hamper your fun. Plus leeches wouldn't be an issue. Around December (which is when we went) the grass is dry and brown and the mountains backs appear burnt and listless. As for the guest house, you need to take permission from the forest dept office in Srimanagala (which is en route the way from Gonikoppa to Iruppu). After much haggling the price per head for an overnight stays came to around Rs.350. We felt robbed, but then it sounded saner than sleeping in the open. After scaling Brahmagiri, we planned to climb down the back, which would bring us to Thirunelli temple, in the Wayanad district of Kerala. And then a couple of buses and we had to be back in Bangalore the same night

Iruppu Falls
Located 20kms from Srimangala, Iruppu Falls definitely isn't anything to die for. Just another of those innumerable falls you'd see in the bosom of a mountain range. Its popularity can be attributed to lack of any 'competition'. Privacy by the way, isn't something that is discussed here. So if you intend to have a soothing time sitting under a waterfall, all by yourself, look elsewhere. The fortune that you forgo at the forest dept earns you a guide. He'll take you all the way to the top. Our Mr.Guide was a shy chap who had the patience to wait for you even if you decided to ascend upside down, on your arms. The guest house is a steady, steep ascent of 4kms all the way from Iruppu. It took us just about 2 hours to cover the same.

Pakshipatalam or Munikkal Caves
Since we reached the guest house by noon on day one, we decided to go see the caves the same day. Its 3kms away and the walk is nothing but leisurely. The caves by themselves give you the feeling of being an ant wandering through a bottle of gooseberries. Umpteen boulders and menhirs lying deceivingly still. Its just about the place right place to spend that evening you have to spare on Narimela betta.
A point worth mentioning is how clearly the border between Kerala and Kanataka has been demarcated. As you walk through the hills, you can clearly see the furrow like border running from the back of one hillock onto the face of another. Look at this picture closely, you'll notice it yourself.

The forest guest house
The first thing that strikes you when you see this guest house is how it was built. Who carried all the construction material to that place - the cement, the stones, the steel and everything else. Definitely worth a thought. I'm still pondering for an answer other than the obvious.

Anyway. the guest house nothing atypical. It very well meets you expectations of a government maintained building (quite literally) seated in the middle of a forest. Its unkempt yet spacious. The wonderful part is they don't serve you food and it does not have a kitchen! They do have a place to cook although. We made the most of this opportunity, preparing lip smacking puliyogare and curry for dinner and the hallowed vegetable upma for breakfast. They say even a dry rope tastes good when you're tummies are on fire. But its a fact that there was enough experience in the group to cook a hearty meal. We did in fact leave the guest house the next day happy and satisfied.

And yes. There are a couple of streams flowing by. One for the use of each of your extremities! And again, a little experience (of living in the wild) helps here too.
Don't you forget to catch the sunrise early in the morning. That's a bonus for the early birds of the group.

Brahmagiri is a good two and a half hours from the guest house. Its again a leisurely walk. Well, almost. Because just when you think you're almost there, you're in for a surprise. Unlike any of the other mountains you would have seen, Brahmagiri has a very steep incline for the last 200 odd meters. Its a steady sharp 30ยบ incline. That makes the last 30mins really strenuous. Not much for a seasoned climber. But back breaking for the anyone else. All the effort only makes scaling the peak even more rewarding.After spending an hour on the top, we got down the other side leisurely. Takes you another 2 hours to get to Thirunelli temple. The temptation to bathe in the mellifluous stream flowing by the temple is irresistible. Why should one resist anyway!?

Changing buses at 'Thet Road', Kutta and finally Mysore we made it back to Bangalore by 12:00am on Sunday night. Getting home at that ungodly hour from Majestic was an adventure in itself. I was in bed at 2:30am and in office that day by 10:00am. Talk about Monday morning blues!

In case you have anything to share, or queries let me hear it in the comments. I'd love to hear from you. Cheers.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Hide and Seek

Holes in the Google chat invisibility cloak..
..maybe you have an alternate explanation!?

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Mobile thefts and Bangalore

I honestly don't get any kicks out of writing on this topic, but its just appalling how mobile phone thievery is perpetrated in the city! Five of my friends (myself included )have been at the receiving end of this menial act. On one side, the police force refuses to take this seriously. They flatly refuse to accept FIRs reporting a stolen cell phone! And on the other hand these scallywags thrive, with nothing to fear.

The modus operandi is simple. Just flick the handset from the unsuspecting commuter who's all focused on boarding a crowded bus. With all the pushing and pulling around, one completely fails to sense anyone putting his hand into ones pant pocket. No wonder I lost my handset out of the front pocket of my jeans! What's really disconcerting is how flagrantly the act is carried out. My friend and I have both lost our cell phones in Marathalli at around 8:00pm. So when I just payed attention today evening at 8:00pm while passing by Marathalli bus stop, I was shocked to see the audacity with which a guy was going about this act!

He's not this stereotyped construction worker who is unkempt and dishevelled, smelling like a soaked onion. At least not this one. He was this very well dressed young man in his late 20s whose appearance gave me the impression that we was earning around 20k a month for a white collared job. As my bus pulled into the Marathalli bus stand, he made a move on his victim, whom he had clearly chosen well in advance. As the crowd rushed towards the opening door of the BMTC bus, he quitely slid his hands into the middle of this ball of men. Unfortunately for him however, he did not succeed. My heart was already beating like a bass drum playing the concluding note for a march past. I was cold all over. And I continued to watch, my mouth wide open. Not be undone, he picked up another victim and moved in for the kill. He stepped close to the guy after checking him out and slowly slid his hand into the side pocket of his pant, getting into the bus in the meantime. I'm not sure what really happened thereafter but the victim-to-be had an angry word with him. This guy just shrugged and mumbled something, none of which I could catch as I was seated three rows away from the bus door. Our villian then made a quick exit from the bus by asking if the bus went to Whitefield, and thus pretending to have gotten into the wrong bus. And he made a clean getaway, without any success that is. Or was it!!?? [I'm suddenly having second thoughts, and how I hate it]

All along I was a silent spectator. I was sitting there, waiting to howl out at the victim if the thief would have succeded. How pathetic; as only now I realize that he could already have. And have decieved me a second time.

I just want to conclude that having read this post, please be extremely careful when boarding or alighting a BMTC bus when its crowded. The best thing would be to hold onto your phone and maybe just keep listening to some music off it. Atleast do so much as to keep your hands in your pocket. Believe me, you really don't want to get into my shoes.