Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Road route from Bangalore to Madurai

== UPDATE: Sep 2009 : Recent status ==
== this info is as of Dec 2008 ==

This was a week long vacation for Christmas and I had planned to drive down to madurai from bangalore. For more than a week, I was working on the route to take, the road conditions etc. Unlike other topics, this requires up-to-date information; no matter how good the info is, it becomes stale or is unreliable (you know how frequent is the changes in the indian roads).

The ideal route from Bangalore to Madurai would be Bangalore -> Hosur -> Krishnagiri -> Salem -> Namakkal -> Karur -> Dindigul -> Madurai. This route is ~430 kms long.

I read that there is heavy road work in progress after Karur, so decided to detour via Trichy (Namakkal -> Musiri -> Trichy -> Melur -> Madurai). This route is ~50 kms longer than the original route. I regretted later for choosing this route.

The road from Bangalore to Hosur starts the trip with a bad note. The road strip is pathetic. Lots of rough patches and the under-construction bridge takes most of the space on the road. But once the bridge opens, this stretch is going to be a breeze (atleast in the early morning). Frequently I had switch between the main road and the service roads due to the construction work. It took around 45 minutes to reach Hosur.

Then comes the wonder (atleast in India). Right after hosur, the four lane express highway starts. This is totally complete until krishnagiri and is 90% complete till Salem. There is very less crowd in the early morning, and the qualitiy of the roads and the view of a lonnngg road gives you the confidence to step on the pedal. There is a toll gate on the way for the highway. They charged Rs.25 for cars (one way). This was very pleasant and I managed to reach Salem in 2.5 hours (this is 200kms from Bangalore, not to forget the 45 mins spent on the first 35 kms). This was a bit of overspeed, but there was no reason why I shouldn't.

Have a look at the highways and see for yourself. Only one way is visible. There are 2 more lanes like this on the other side of the divider.

Would you mind speeding on these roads? ;) again only one way visible.

After Salem there are a number of road diversions where one way roads suddenly become two ways; you will have to join the opposite way and drive against the traffic. It is quite uncomfortable specially when there is no vehicle infront yours. At times, people driving on opposite side do not realize that this road is "now" 2 way. It's quite risky. I would advise to drive with head lights on when you drive on these roads and dip/flash your headlights as required. Salem->Namakkal strip is quite complete except for a few diversions. The diversion boards are missing at some points and people drive at their own choice of roads. If you are not used to the route, avoid night driving.

Come back to reality after Namakkal. I had to go through the namakkal city to reach the trichy highway. Namakkal to Musiri highway was quite ok. Less traffic, good roads (but only one lane per way). Musiri to trichy was a mess. Bad roads and were very narrow. I had to be careful about cows and sheeps with no herders crossing the roads every once in a while. No chance to speed. Namkkal to trichy took a solid 1.5 hours for ~80kms. The highway enters trichy at toll-gate. The by-pass from toll-gate to trichy railway junction is under construction. This is not going to get ready for atleast a year. I got diverted very early from the by pass into the city. sucks! The roads were pathetic all over the route from toll-gate to madurai highway (tollgate --> thiruvanai kovil -> sathiram bus stand -> thillai nagar -> trichy junction -> madurai highway). With the bad roads and the peek city traffic at noon, this took a solid 1 hour. Waste of mileage and time. Please do not consider this detour. Trichy to madurai stretch was neither that pleasing. 4 lane highway is under construction in most places and is around 40% complete I would say. Roads are acceptable except after Melur. Melur to madurai stretch was pathetic with lot of potholes on road.

On the way back, I took the normal route (Madurai -> Dindigul -> Karur -> Namakkal). To be frank, overall this route is much better than the detour. Madurai->Dindigul route is in bad shape. Bad roads. The 4 lane highway is barely started. But after Dindigul, things start getting better and the highway gets better and better as it reaches Namakkal. Madurai -> Dindigul took around 1,45 hours while I reached Salem in a decent 5 hours. On the way back, Salem->Hosur highway was little crowded with the trucks playing the spoil sport. They occupy both the lanes at 50kmph and are the real pain in the a$$. I could still reach Hosur in ~3 hours. After all this, bangalore welcomes you with hell a lot of traffic right from Electronic city (just after Hosur). Its horrible as of now. I wish the bridge gets ready soon.

I hope this info would help someone who would travel in this route in the next 1 or 2 months. Once the 4 lane highway is totally complete till madurai, it is going to be a matter of ~6 hours drive.

New year 2009 delayed by a second

Due to the changes in the speed of earth's rotation and revolution, slight irregular adjustments to our time are inevitable. The International Earth Rotation and reference Systems service (IERS) had earlier declared to introduce one leap second at the end of the year 2008 (UTC). This ineffect delays the new year by a second.

So, 31 Dec 2008 23:59:60 UTC is a valid time.

Before someone jumps on me, hold on, according to IERS the leap second is added at the end of the year "UTC". So for people behind or in UTC, the current year is longer by a second and for people ahead of UTC the new year is longer by a second.

For us in India, the new second would get added as 1st Jan 2009 05:29:60 IST.

Enjoy! you've got an additional second to live! :)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

just back...

Just returned from a week long vacation for Christmas -- and that's the reason for a short silence in my blog.

Tired of driving my car for 1300 kms in just 6 days (out of which 1000 kms in 2 days).

Back with a lot of stuff to share, stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Technology at its heights!!

Police in Finland seem to have cracked a car-theft case and tracked down the thief based on a DNA sample taken from a mosquito in the stolen car -- which allegedly has bitten the thief :)

This is heights! deserves kudos!

More info here.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Migrating an orkut account to an existing gmail account

shhhhabbha! I spent 5 minutes to come up with a title which finally didn't convey what I want to. Anyways I can't blame myself because the topic itself is complicated and the terminologies are confusing.

I'm one of those who signed into orkut without an existing google account (mostly created via gmail at those times). Google was smart enough to not mandate people to create a gmail account, but use your existing email address of any domain as the username for the google account and link that against orkut. ie., you can create a google account with your existing email address as the username, and enjoy all google services except gmail. I needed only orkut so I didn't really care. Everything was fine and easy, until I created a gmail for my own use and slowly started using other google services against it. After all, now that I am using a bunch of other services from google, I would prefer to use the gmail account. But this is where the problem is.

In my case, I had created a gmail account and had many other services linked to my gmail google account except for my orkut account. Now that I want to bring in my orkut account also into my gmail account as one umbrella, I'm not able to do that. It turns out that orkut allows me to change my email address from to any other thirdparty email address except for gmail. In effect, I cannot get my older orkut account to my recent gmail based google account. In a common scenario, what I am asking for is probably utter non-sense because I want to migrate a service from one google account to another. But in reality this is a very common scenario which arose as a side-effect of allowing users to sign-up to orkut without a gmail address.

I really didn't expect that Google wouldn't allow me to do such an expected move until I saw the official clarification in the orkut Help page.

I understand it is complicated (infact there needs a way to disambiguate the precedences) to merge the services between both the Google accounts but at least an option to migrate an orkut account seems necessary, given the signup was so liberal.

I'm having to use two Google accounts just for the sake of orkut, and because it is not possible to sign-in to two Google accounts at the same time, I'm having to use Chrome for one (one more reason to use Chrome after the incognito mode).

I hope Google solves this problem but there is no sign!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What you see is not where you go!

I know the title does not make any sense -- maybe it will after you read the post.

One of the common means of phishing is to take you to a malicious website when you think you are at the genuine website. The task is not so easy for the attacker to make you believe. A fundamental hole (genuinely useful in many cases) is that a HTML link can be named anything you want, while the URL can be anything.

eg., Google -- This link shows up as Google and takes you to when you click on it. A non-techy user who uses internet for banking etc., might believe that a 'ABC Bank Login' link will really take him there --- but there is absolutely no need. Unfortunately this simple tweak is seeming to be enough to succeed against a non-techy user. All that the attacker needs to do is to make sure that the malicious page looks the same as the original page.

Among the smarter people, the most popular way to check the link is to not go by the text, but by the URL the link is pointing to. All browsers have ways to find this out. The simple thing is to hover the mouse over the link and look at the status bar of the browser. Scripts can manipulate what is being shown in the status bar and so the other option is to see the properties of the link (right-click).

Unfortunately this does not help all the time. This is what even some techy users do not know. A hacker can show the URL of the genuine site until the user clicks on it, and then redirect him to the malicious site the moment he clicks the link (This reminds me of the click-hijacking vulnerability in the flash player -- Interested people can read further here).

Now look at the following example: This links reads Google and continues to show the URL of but when you click on it, it would take you to If you notice carefully the URL is changed on the fly when the mouse is clicked on the link. Not many users will notice that the URL is changing (if you think you always would notice, wait for a while and read further).

Google -- see the properties of the link and click on this link. see where you go!

[Update: This trick does not work on Google reader (possibly other readers too). So please visit my blog page if the link doesn't work for you. Thanks Senthil for pointing this out]

This is the dangerous part. It is quite difficult for us to notice these subtle things on hundreds of links that we click everyday. But being aware of these traps is very important. At least we would know how to be vigilant while accessing confidential and financial sites.

The other most effective way is to make sure your URL is correct on the address bar of the browser after you reach the site (yes, DNS spoofing will fool you here). Thankfully if the website is a https website (in most cases it is, where you need them), it is the best to make sure that the SSL certificate belongs to the website that you are pointing too.

Ok, now for those who thought they would always notice the link : Have you noticed that when you click on a link from the search results page in google, you are actually clicking on a link that takes you to and not directly to the website you want to reach? It is actually Google that redirects you to the actual website -- but we usually fail to notice this. Now that I told you it would be obvious this is how google's page ranking works! I'm surprised that google does this; I would rather feel safe to see the actual google's URL on the link given that the website's URL is anyway shown at the bottom of every site listed in the search results page.

So be vigilant, have a safe browsing -- because what you see is not where you go :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Reliance WiMax IP issue -- a logical solution

I have been using Reliance WiMax for the past 10 months. There has always been issues with the speed (I've a 2Mbps line while I used to get only 256kbps). However, I should admit, at least to me the speed is very reasonable these days (mostly above 1Mbps).

The most common issue with wimax (I would refer reliance wimax as wimax hereon) is the difficulty in getting an IP. The common mode of connection is by DHCP (reliance charges around 2k per annum for static IP). Here is where the problem starts -- Windows fails to get an IP dynamically.

The most common solution that the users and the customer care people suggest is to 'keep the POE adaptor always on'. This is a ridiculous solution, as it wastes power. Even in this approach there is no guarantee that you will have your IP ready when you reach home -- the DHCP lease expires in few hours (earlier I believe it was 6 hours, these days it is 2 hours). So the problem actually repeats itself every 2 hours, however, things are little different when the lease expires -- so mostly this solution "might" work except for the power wastage. People do this.

The other solution provided by many are the famous "windows" solution. Just redo from the beginning. Switch off everything and start from the beginning. I hope they don't ask me to go to office and then come back. Well this is like trying to get lucky!

Ok so why is this post. I've been trying to understand the whole scenario from the beginning. Thankfully I did, I believe -- at least with my understanding I am able to get an IP always in less than a minute.

Let me explain the architecture behind reliance Wimax. There is an POE adaptor which is the wimax antenna. An ethernet cable runs from the POE adaptor to your comp. Your computer is configured for dynamic IP from the POE adaptor -- now this is where it gets interesting. The POE adaptor is also another networking node (it has its own firmware and boots up; infact they can upgrade firmware over the air). The POE adaptor also needs to get an IP "dynamically" from their servers. So the POE can successfully behave as a DHCP server (dhcp pkts router pbly) only after it receiving its own IP address . But this takes a while and hence the problem.

Why that being delayed is a problem? Now I'm going to blame Windows for this. The moment POE starts, the network link between the comp and the POE goes active, and Windows starts looking for a dynamic IP from the dhcp server which does NOT exist as of now. After a while Windows gives up and reports 'Limited or No connectivity'! Now what is the state of connection with respect to Windows is probably not known to windows too. (Try assigning any IP to this adaptor at this point and you would see that Windows would just hang for minutes there). I believe there is some glitch here, and Windows is not optimally handling this situation. Because of this, even when the POE gets its own IP and becomes capable of serving as DHCP server, there is no use! Windows does not manage to get an IP. People keep refreshing; run ipconfig -- and just shows "Limited or No connectivity". To add to the complexity, if the IP is not obtained within a short while, most times, the connectivity between the POE and the wimax towers gets broken for ever -- in which case, I could recover only by restarting POE and getting a fresh IP for POE.

So, we need to do two things to get an IP easily:
1. Know when the POE gets an IP and gateway assigned.
2. Once POE gets an IP, immediately make windows to try acquiring an IP dynamically.

Second is easy to do. Keep the connection disabled, and enable it only when the POE gets an IP. The first one is the difficult part. A simple approach I can suggest is, disable the connection, start the POE - wait for a minute or so, enable the connection. This is much more meaningful than restarting everything (I know one friend, who removes even the plugs connected to the POE adaptor --- apparently he was told by customer care).

A hint for techy guys: I dont use this technique to figure out if the POE has got an IP. It is quite apparent, that just like any other networking product (like a router, wireless router), the POE also listens on a local IP address of So if you statically assign (mask: you should be able to reach the POE adaptor "locally". Now go to a browser and type ''. Now if you can proceed from here on your own, you can know if the POE has an IP. The moment you see an IP, just disconnect your connection and re-enable the adaptor in dhcp mode -- you should get your IP in seconds. I don't think I can give more info on this.

I had written a perl script to do this for me, and I'm still using it. So I just run this script after boot up, and it takes care of getting me an IP while I have a face-wash after reaching home.

You can try something similar with this info. Have fun!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Transfer emails from yahoo mail to gmail

This is one of the main reasons why many people would have not moved yet to gmail. There are a number of easy and stupid ways like sending each mail to your gmail account (even a kid would suggest this). Thats apparently not just cumbersome but also all mails will show up in gmail as if it was sent by you -- not by the real sender --- ooops, this is unacceptable.

An acceptable way to transfer the emails is to get a POP3/iMAP server for ymail. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly this is not provided for yahoo mail "free" users. period. When I had almost given up hope on this transfer, I came across the savior -- YPOPs!. This software is a pop3 server for yahoo mail, and does the job neatly by talking to yahoo mail servers over HTTP as if it is a browser request. Now this job is not as easy at sounds, as this software has to be re-written every time yahoo changes its pages. One great soul worth mentioning Anul Seth has taken the burden of doing this, and still continuing to adopt to the changes in ymail.

There you go! Just install ymail pops server, bind it your external IP, configure a secondary account in gmail (Settings -> Accounts -> Add another mail account) with your yahoo email address, your external IP as POP3 server and you are all set to download the emails to your gmail account. The ypops server also allows you to download individual folders. All you need to do is just create filters in gmail to label your incoming mails accordingly. Beautiful!

the over all flow is like this:

gmail ---- > your machine (ypops server via POP3) ---> yahoo mail server (via HTTP)

Remember that you need to have an external/public IP address (not necessarily static) on your PC for this to work.

Few glitches:
  • Some of mails were delivered twice in gmail. Not sure why -- but it wasn't difficult to track them and delete.
  • Sometimes, the connection breaks in between. But reasonable enough, ypops maintains the state, and resumes from the correct email on the next retry.
  • gmail does not show any useful progress about the action. Moreover, no new mails appear in your gmail box until gmail downloads all the mails or the connection with your POP3 disrupts. ypops has the option to show progress (disabled by default), which is handy to know the status (if you know a bit of POP3 protocol it would help to follow the progress easily).
  • And do not forget to check the option 'leave a copy the mails in the server' -- otherwise, the mails will be deleted from your ymail box after they are downloaded.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bluetooth Autolock for Windows

Are you having to lock your laptop/PC when you leave your place and again unlock it everytime you come back? Are you tired of unlocking your comp everytime? (arae yaar, say "yes"). Then this app is for you. This app would automatically lock your comp when you move out of your place and unlock it when you are back :) sounds useful? Technically, this is not exactly what is possible. This app actually shows up a screen saver hiding the whole screen when it detects that you are away; saying like 'You know what? Gerald is away so this comp is autolocked' -- fancy enough?

when you are back the screen saver is automatically closed and you are back to where you were.. uhhh!! wait wait... it will really lock your comp when it detects any keypress or mouse movement while you are away -- ok so you are safe. It is technically impossible to unlock a machine programmatically (even if the password is known), so this is the max that can be done. So incase if someone intrudes when you are away, the computer is locked and you will have to manually unlock it; but all in all you are safe still. And nothing needs to be installed on your mobile device.

A snapshot would help you follow further

(btw, the hardware id shown is not my phone's -- in case you thought about it)

The whole idea is to track the user by bluetooth. You need a mobile (or anyother device that supports bluetooth modem (DUN) or bluetooth serial port (SPP) profile) with bluetooth enabled. Almost all mobile phones with bluetooth, support atleast one of these -- so don't worry if you have a mobile phone. Your bluetooth device/dongle on the computer should be powered by Broadcom's (previously WidComm) bluetooth stack (this is most common, it is more likely you already are running on this) -- sorry to BlueSoleil/Windows stack users. (I will post a workaround for you people later).

As it is clear from the UI, just configure the COM port in which your bluetooth modem (or bluetooth serial port) is installed on your computer. The application automatically detects the available COM ports and lists only them (actually I've disabled this feature for the moment, as this adds up to the application startup time and hits by debugging latency). Next is to type in the bluetooth hardware ID of your mobile (as shown in the example). Now using your widcomm bluetooth application, pair your computer and your mobile phone (by typing the passkey etc). All set!

One optional thing is the sensitivity. Based on how enclosed/open your cubicle is, and when you would want yourself to be called as "away", you might want to tune the sensitivity. The 'status' button shows the current status as seen by the software; either "reachable" or "not reachable". This should help you to tune your sensitivity level and also to make sure you configured everything right.

When it's all done, just press AutoLock and forget the fear of locking/unlocking the computer.

I had to go through a number of prototypes before zeroing on this. I also have a working version which tracks the user through Wifi. The wifi chip is power-hungry and it is not practically affordable to run wifi continuously on your mobile (possibly resolved with the new invention from broadcom). Anyways for now, no no no! So I had to fallback to bluetooth for usability, inspite of losing precision.

This app is in my labs for more than a week now and is doing well with ongoing fixes.. Will post an update once I'm convinced that I should release ;) I will also post a separate blogpost about the technical details behind this app -- for the developer audience.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Yahoo mail to Gmail

I'm one of the many users who migrated from yahoo mail to gmail. btw, I've been holding this gmail id for more than 3 years while I've started using it only now. In the beginning gmail was really bad (to be frank, silly) that I was taken aback when I first registered. gmail has improved a lot since and then and still is improving.

Now, the major reason for me to move on to gmail is security. In the recent articles that I've read and from my personal experience, I believe that google takes more care when it comes to security of your account. I was very impressed with the login details that gmail provides (not sure if everyone has seen this). I can see a list of IP addresses from where someone (suppose to be me) logged into my gmail account -- impressive!

Here is my personal view of these two mail services:

Y! mail

  • excellent interface thru ajax with tabs, shortcuts, drag-drop etc., (gmail is nowhere close to this).
  • and thats it for the free version :(
  • less secure
  • no concept of labelling (or tagging) as opposed to moving to folders.
  • no support for pop server
  • limited space 1GB (well actually I never reached even close to 1GB in ymail)

  • more secure
  • labelling mails (this is confusing to people initially)
  • single signon (google account is also a openID)
  • nonstop increase in storage (already 7.5GB)
  • pop3, imap, mail forwarding and lot more services for free
  • libgmail - application programming interface for gmail (this is on my hitlist)
  • APIs make it possible for other apps to integrate freely with gmail - like iGoogle
  • i can definitely find few more if I think for a while
  • poorer interface (when compared to ymail)
  • I really thought for a while, but could not come up with more cons.
Now you know why I moved to gmail. But that is not the end of the game. The main problem is about how to transfer the old mails from y! mail to gmail. This is very crucial otherwise, I will have to endlessly maintain two email accounts -- i hate that. That is a separate topic as to how I moved my mails onto gmail.. will write on it later !

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Google native x86 client

Web-browsing taken to the next level -- maybe next-to-the-next level.

While on one side, people are struggling to make javascript engines faster and faster for future web applications (be it chrome's V8 or firefox's tracemonkey), this is an extreme leap on the performance. I've not read about the architecture on native-client so I'm not able to even guess the complications that would arise on the security front. But I believe the concept is more complicated because it is on a "browser".

More info here

The webpage shows a browser running Quake "natively". Not sure about the fps they achieved -- but it seems conceptually it is working. And it is open-source. This is a research project yet.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

GPS -- a practical example

People keep talking about GPS -- an exciting gadget to have, while some do not understand what-the-hell is GPS and why would they ever need it. This might help them to understand and decide on it. While few people don't want to understand it, because they just dont want to get into hitech stuff -- this is not for those.. Let them live happily without it.

I knew about GPS since my college days (when GPS was not popular for consumer/commercial use -- atleast in India). I've been using GPS in my ASUS P320 phone for quite sometime and feel good about its use. GPS is specially useful when you go out on trip and you do not prior knowledge about the place. A realtime example will make you understand and appreciate the use of GPS.

I've a phone running on Windows mobile; so all that I talk about "software" here apply only to the Windows variants of GPS devices. The advantages of GPS remain the same anyways. Okay, after going thru a number of navigation software, I've finally boiled down to tracky and google maps as my preferences. Both have their own advantages so I need them both. I also have mapmyindia for navigation purposes.. Maybe I will compare the various software later in the blog.

We went to jungle resort and for a trip like this tracky is the way to go. I had downloaded all relevant maps (both road and satellite) onto my phone (at various zoom levels based on the need at various locations during the trip) and integrated with tracky (approx 2000 tiles covering the route from bangalore to that resort). That was a place where there is no mobile connectivity -- so offline maps was a must to have. It worked beautifullly...

To download the google maps for a given location, you need to definite the co-ordinates of the map first. Use mapcacher for this.
Then use gMapMaker to download the real tiles of the map you just configured.

Practical GPS:

* Tracky shows the speed of your vehicle.. pretty interesting to watch it go in tandem the vehicle speed.. I have tested this on train too :)

* I recorded the track of our travel. The route is not pretty clear as it has to go through villages -- so I wanted this track when I visit the place next time. Now next time all I need to do is, just load the track in tracky and just follow it (see my earlier post on this). Moreover, you can transfer the file (GPX) to your comp and load it in google earth and see the track in which the trip went..!! endless....

* When no one had any idea as to how long it is going to take or how many kilometers more to the resort -- hehe I had answer (rather my phone had an answer).. Set the target to where you want to go and tracky tells you the distance left and the approx time thats going to take (based on your current location and the average speed so far in the trip).

* Even better, If I had to walk from one place in resort to another place (eg., my logger hut to the ayurvedic massage center), I was able to measure the distance (being in any place) using tracky and tell people that it is not worth 2kms walk :)

* And to my surprise, I was running GPS continuously for 3 hours and at the end of the trip I still had 40% battery left in my phone.. And once I got the satellites locked, I didn't have to keep my phone facing the window or anything.. I just carried my phone (with gps and tracky on) on my pocket just like I normally do..

Aside from this trip,

* When I usually travel by train, I usually track my destination by GPS so I would know when to come down from my berth. This is specially useful when its dark outside and is difficult to guess the place from the upper berth.

* The trackyme feature of the tracky software is useful when you want someone else to track you as you travel. The software uploads the co-ordinates (in configurable intervals) to their server, and your location can be spotted through the internet (yes, it is username/password protected, so only people whom you want to track you can really track you). And this is optional feature to turn on -- for the privacy paranoid people like me.

This is just about the tracking part of GPS ; the navigational abilities that the software provide is of separate use (where is the nearest pizza corner and how do I reach there?) -- maybe its worth a separate post later.

All in all, it is a wonderful device to have. Believe me, it is useful if you know how to use it and if you have the right software for the moment.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Minesweeper - a game of luck?

A minesweeper-game a day keeps your logic alive -- well maybe only as long as you're a beginner; as at some point our brain being too smart, does not want to apply the same logic again and again, and starts looking for patterns to quickly clear the empty lands -- yes, memoization as in dynamic programming ;)

When I get a quick break, I like playing a minesweeper game. When my luck is bad on that run, minesweeper turns into a game of luck. It generates a pattern wherein there aren't enough cues. Usually people claim that minesweeper has hidden cues "all" the time; it is just that the user does not notice them. Seems not.

Here is the snapshot of such an ambiguous position I got recently:

There was only one mine left; two tiles to be cleared. Now, atleast I dont understand where shall the mine be. Both seem equally probable. Does anyone have a different opinion?

I managed to get unlucky that day and lost the game even after correctly marking 99 mines :(

Better luck next time with minesweeper!

Why can't you?

Courtesy: Pravs World

At times, even the Sun’s brightness is overshadowed by clouds.
Why can’t yours?

However dark and dense the clouds may be, Sun will shine back.
And it will shine the brightest.

Why can’t you?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Forum -- On Dec 6th

'The Forum' is a famous shopping mall in bangalore. It's like Chennai's spencer plaza. Every molecule in bangalore would know about it.

When I woke up today, I did not remember that today is the notorious Dec 6th; failed to remember even the recent t e r r o r attack warning for Dec 6th on airports. It was just a yet-another-saturday for me, but only until I reached the Forum. The bike parking didn't surprise me, except for the additional security checks on the bikes too. I could get a slot close to the entrance of the parking space, so I did not bother to look around; As I entered the Forum, I could sense the difference immediately; at a first glance it was "deserted" -- Forum and deserted are almost literally an oxymoron.

The immediate thought in my mind was "Did I miss any news?". Never mind, took out my mobile and immediately glanced through the news on the internet to check if I missed something unusual. Thankfully nothing worse. That is when it struck me that today was Dec 6th and the attack warning. I could understand the panic.

After a small while, I could see more faces and felt a bit better than how it sounded earlier. However, I've never seen Forum like today in these three and half years I've spent in Bangalore. I could almost see the complete stretch of the forum mall from one end (people who have been to Forum would know if this was ever possible). At 2.30pm atleast 10-15% of tables in transit were empty. Infact, transit was the only crowded place I could see today. Very few people in the corridors; Overall it was atleast 40% less populated. I was convinced that I should leave.

On the way back, a fire-engine was blazing through the bangalore traffic with terrific siren. For a change, today everyone gave way for it. I could see that everyone stopped for a while, and looked bewildered at the fire engine -- just like me wondering where would have been the fire now and why??!!! hmmm... people moved on with a sigh!

Finally I returned home safely (not from war, but from weekend shopping). Where am I living ?!!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Bangalore to Bheemeshwari

We had a team outing to a fishing resort near Bangalore - named Bheemeshwari. I'm not going to talk about Bheemeshwari as there are other ways in the internet to get it.

This is about how to get there. I had recorded the complete GPS track in my GPS phone (from Kanakapura road to Bheemeshwari car parking). The recorded route is ~52 miles. The route to Bheemeshwari deviates from the Kanakapura road after Kanakapura; then-on the directions to Bheemeshwari are not clear and the route is pretty deserted. Quite some hilly roads with steep slopes before we reach the cauvery bank at Bheemeshwari. It would be very helpful to have some navigation support if you are driving there for the first time.

If you ever want to drive down to Bheemeshwari, and if you have "any" GPS device that can load a track (as in the most popular GPS Exchange format -- GPX), just download my GPX file and you are all set to follow the track as your navigation device tells you. I was hopeful that I would need this myself, as I had a plan of going back to Bheemeshwari as a personal visit -- but that didn't happen.

By the time I settled in the bus, and my phone got lock on atleast 3 GPS satellites, we had reached Kanakapura road. So the route actually starts right from Kanakapura road in Bangalore. You should at least be knowing how to reach Kanakapura road if you are planning to drive down yourself ;)

Track shown in Google Maps: (overlay'ed line in cyan color).

View Larger Map

If you just want to download the track and see it yourself in Google Earth, download this KML file.
If you want to load the track in your GPS navigation device, download this GPX file.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

GMail Goggles

This is an interesting and funny feature in gmail (labs). It is for those who send un-intended emails when they are drunk and then regret later.

Once enabled, this feature will ask the user to solve few simple mathematics problems and will send the email only if the user manages to answer them correctly ;) It is not surprising this feature is enabled by default only on friday nights -- when the probability of this mistake is high enough. These timings are configurable.

You can enable this in gmail : Settings -> Labs -> Mail Goggles

Not sure about how useful/effective it is, but it is a "cool" thought.

More info here in the offical gmail blog.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What a ride!

Courtesy: Pravs World

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely
in an attractive and well-preserved body.

But rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand,
strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up,
totally worn out and screaming - ”Woohoo - What a ride!”

Pravs World

"inspiring you for a better tomorrow" -- that says it all!

I'm a regular follower of Pravs World postings. I strongly believe that it has a **big** influence on me -- helping me to overcome my difficult times..

Kudos and Thanks to Pravs World!

better late than never...

For many years now, I've had the intention to blog, but never found time. After suggestions from quite a bit of my friends, I've finally decided to blog.

hehe, then thats not me; but this is actually how many people whom I know have started blogging. ;)

I knew about blogging few years back, and in fact I created this URL in 2004. To be frank, I never thought I would ever blog in my life. I'm pretty lazy in writing (I remember not answering few questions in my MS exams, because I felt bored of writing and I had already answered for 90%). I know of some people who have recently started blogging, and some people who have recently stopped blogging because they no longer find time. Let me see how long this works for the lazy me.

I believe after many years, it would be wonderful for me/others to glance through my blog to know how I've been and how I've grown. And believe this is a nice way to share knowledge and more importantly archive them.