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Farewell Bangalore

Dear Bangalore,
I still remember the day I first set my sight on you. Little did I know that you will play a crucial role in my life. It was in 2002, during my engineering days. I was on my 5th semester tour. I can still feel the cold climate and the smell of the fresh flowers. Those big shopping malls, the pubs and the ultra modern folks (chics) here instantly made you one of my dream cities. All those stories about software professionals making a nice living here, oh! man, I had decided that you are the one city I want to be in.

Fall 2003
I came again for the 7th semester tour and by that time me and my friends wanted to spend some quality time here with you and that’s one main reason we chose to do our final year project here. Those were the days, when I started loving you – fall 2003. I think I loved everything about you. The New Year (2004) celebrations in Brigade road – I don’t think I will ever forget it. Even I loved the journeys to and from my native to you.

Again
Again, you crossed path with my life even if not for long in spring 2005 in when I started ‘hunting’ for a job. But fortunately or unfortunately, I got my job in Trivandrum. Then again, I knew that someday I am going to come back to you. And that’s why, when I got an offer from here, I was really excited. But before coming here, I heard many rumors about the pathetic traffic conditions, the slowly disappearing cold climate etc.

Expectations
What I expected was not what I saw in here. A city which is so polluted with dust and garbage, roads filled with vehicles and dogs, malls and shop keepers who wanted to grab the money in my pocket to theirs, auto rickshaw drivers who will kill if they get a chance etc. I really got scared at first seeing the changed you and because of the change in climatic conditions, I was having fever, cold etc on a regular basis. I even thought about leaving you. My regular readers are aware of my attitude towards you, I guess.

Time is a healer
Getting used to things we confront daily is a quality (good or bad?) of the human race. Slowly I started liking you. One important thing I like about you is the personal space you gave me. Also the technological community here and the exposure I got from you were simply amazing. I realized there is a world like this. It totally changed my outlook towards life itself. I had a very good team and work environment, a new circle of friends, lots of parties to attend, all those nice hotels where I could try different variety of dishes, the beautiful climate which helped me maximizing my artistic talents and so on.

Farewell
Finally the time has come for me to move on. In this journey of life, I have reached a point where I have to part with you, my beautiful friend. I have no idea what is there in store for me in the future. May be I will fall in love with the next city I am moving to. May be I am never going to come back to you. But looking back now, I can see vividly, the influence you have in my life. With so many challenges, experiences, happy times, sad times, you have a very special place in my heart. And that place will ever be there, no matter where I go or what I become. I really hope I will be able to come back some day to you and I know, if that day comes, you will be here with your warm welcome, just like you welcome anyone who comes to you. Farewell Bangalore.

With warm love and regards
- Manu

Aliasing an Ethernet Interface in Linux

For the last couple of weeks, I was busy with my work. I’ve had a really good time and I thought I will share something I learned during that time here.
My work was related to some thing of the client-server model. For testing, we were simulating multiple clients and servers in the same PC. First we were using the same IP address and different ports. Later, before moving to the real world scenario, we wanted to test with different IP address. Since the number of clients was huge, we couldn’t run the tests in single PCs. Thats then we decided to bring up multiple interfaces in a single PC and test it. This helped in testing one more level deeper before moving to the actual hardware. [Even then, we had to use different TCP/UDP ports since there is only one TCP/UDP stack in the system]

For this purpose, I was doing some research on how to alias and bring up multiple Ethernet interfaces in a Linux system. I couldn’t easily find any help on how to bring up aliased interfaces using C [I found many references about aliasing using Ifconfig command]. So, I wrote a generic application which can bring up multiple aliased interfaces. Here is the code. I believe I have made it as simple as I can and you can modify and try experiments on your own. To start with, you can try changing different members in the ifreq structure.


When I showed this to a colleague of mine - who happens to be a scripting guru - he wrote a small script which can be used to bring up multiple interfaces. This may also be useful I guess. Anyway, you are free to take this and do experiments on your own.

For more info about the structures used in the program, here are the links.
struct sockaddr_in
struct ifreq
Please share your comments and thoughts so that I can improve the ways I do coding. Special thanks to Bala who wrote the script and Adil, who provided me with the code to start off with.

ps: I am really sorry that I have put the code as an image, I don't know why, but I was not able to put the code as it is, it was giving me some problems.


The Lake House

I’ve always wondered how they make such beautiful stories about love, capture it in the film so perfect that you never want to come out of the magical world, the movie has taken you to. I’ve stumbled up on one such movie recently.

It was a rainy day. I love to simply sit in my house, look out through the glass window, and see the rain. I was alone in my home. The mood was getting on to me. I felt lonely. I selected the movie “The Lake House” as a pass time, just because of my love towards buildings by river/lake sides. But it turned out to be an amazing movie.

The movie had all the elements I would love spending all my time for. A ‘seductively beautiful’ house by the lake side- a glass box - which gives you a gorgeous view of the lake, almost like one which I always dream of building myself, a gifted architect (a profession which I admire) who lives in the house, a really scenic place – something which I long to own one day, those sunsets you can enjoy from the lake house, and a beautiful story of love which is so impossible and mysterious, where there is no place for logic, but one which make you wish that it is real. And a magical mailbox, which makes everything a reality.


“What if you found, the one you were meant for? But you lived two years apart?” What if the one person who walked right in to your life, turned it around, is two years apart from your life? One person whom you can never meet, but the one you want to give your whole heart to. Even though its clearly impossible, it’s amazing to see what love can do to us, all of us.


Yeah, that’s the theme of the movie. Sounding absurd? It sounded the same way to me when I saw the trailer. Now it’s another fairytale which I like to keep very close to my heart.







Trailer: http://www.apple.com/trailers/wb/thelakehouse/small.html
Site: http://thelakehousemovie.warnerbros.com/

Guilty as Charged

Here is the reply I got from the Mr. B Krishnamoorthy Bajaj Regional Manager, Bangalore about my complaint (previous blog).

Dear Mr Manu,
Noted the contents of your mail and we sincerely apologise for the experience which you had with our service centre.
Your feedbacks are very valid and would help the dealer to improve on customer service
We are taking up the feedback with the concerned dlr and we assure you better experience during your future visits.
For any future service assistance pl contact me or my colleague Mr Manoj Manoharan, from our Bangalore Regional office.
Assuring our best services.
Regards,
B Krishnamoorthy
Regional Manager-Service
Bajaj auto ltd
Bangalore

Atleast I got the satisfaction that I had done something to resist customer exploitation. After I got this mail, I got a call from another guy (forgot his name) on behalf of Mr. B Krishnamoorty apologizing for the incident. He said it’s good that I submitted the feedback, so that they can improve customer service. He also assured me that there had been some internal action taken and the corresponding person from Amba Bajaj will call me. As expected, Mr. Hithranjan Kumar from Amba Bajaj called me and we ‘discussed’ about the incident for some 15-20 minutes. Finally he concluded that, its their mistake and he apologized for that and he assured me that I can contact him anytime for any assistance. He also wanted me to reply to the regional manager’s mail about our discussion. Anyway, I now feel that there is some customer service after all, and some one will reply to the complaints of a customer, if you complain at the right place.

Thanks to Amba Bajaj

This is the mail I had to send to customerservice@bajajauto.co.in (and to the regional heads) today. Thanks to Amba Bajaj.


From,

Manu Ignatius


To Whom It May Concern:

Bajaj Customer Service

Bajaj Auto India Ltd.


Subject: Feedback about customer service


Sir,

I own a Bajaj Pulsar 180cc, 2006 model bike (vehicle no). And I love it and I take care of it really well. But I am loosing faith on your customer service and dealers. I bought my bike on <date>. During that time, I had some issues and I had to mail to this same email id and I got the bike after a long time.

I gave my bike for 4th free service yesterday (October 14, 2008) to Amba Bajaj service centre in Hongasandra. (Bill attached). I could not go there to collect my bike yesterday due to some personal reasons. I called them by around 7pm, and they said, bike is ready, but I can collect it today (October 15th) morning. You can clearly see from the bill that I collected on Oct 15th. When I went there to collect my bike, it was not ready. After I paid the bill, they started cleaning my bike. Then I noticed that, the bike was not at all clean. There was mud all over the engine, the silencer and the central stand. I was on my way to office and I wanted the bike fast. But, I told them this issue and they said they will do washing again. I had to wait there for 30 mins. I missed a very serious meeting in my office. But it was ok for me, as long as my bike is good. Even after 30mins, when I couldn’t see anyone responsible for the bike, I went inside the service centre and the guy who washed it said its ready and I can take it. The bike was washed, but it was totally wet. I asked them how long will it take to dry it. He said, its ready, and he is not going to dry it. I felt thoroughly cheated, and it was like he slapped in my face. I wanted to complain this to some one, but I couldn’t find anyone who is responsible there. I felt like, no one is accountable for any work in that service centre. I trusted your company and service centers. But if this is the case, where will I go for service?

I saw a label there about your goals. It said, 100% customer satisfaction – in my case its 0% + loss of time + mental agony. Also I saw another goal which says, no repeat works – if I had checked it again, I would have to tell them to wash my bike again. Because it was not clean as I wanted. By these incidents, I am loosing all the faith in your service centers. The bike is a great one, but I don’t know how long I can take this kind of customer treatment from your service centers.

Yours truly,

Manu Ignatius

ps: I have posted an online complaint also regarding this same issue.


A Toast

I am not entirely sure why I am publishing this in my blog. May I want all those who didn't attend the function and didn't get a chance to hear me saying those words, to read them. Anyway, my sister got engaged on Oct 2nd, 2008. And here is the toast, I presented for them.

"Hi everyone, I would like to propose a toast for Milu and Ginto, the best couple in the world, according to me. She is my one and only little sister, speaking of which I have lots of memories. Some are happy; some are not, some are wonderful, so wonderful that I won’t be able to forget any of them in my life time.

When I look back, I am really amazed at how fast it is that the time flies by. I remember vividly, all those times we spent together during our childhood. All our fights, which ended always when either of our parents – Achachan and Amma – intervened. We even spent much of our college days together. Even now, we are very close. My point is, she is one hell of a person, who has influenced me a lot and left a long standing impression in my life. She has always been there for me, through my hard times to help me out and to share my happiness when I was happy.

You know, when I first realized that they are going to get married, which I haven’t done yet, I was, I was little angry and jealous towards Ginto. The mere thought that he is going to take away this integral part of my life, my little treasure, from me, gave me a real hard time. Later when I came to know more about Ginto, I realized that, not only that I am NOT going to loose my dear vava, but I am also gaining a Big brother, which is something I used to wish for. Along with that, I’ve gained another set of parents – Ginto's parents - and a new brother and friend – Anish who is Ginto’s brother. Now I feel that I am going to be the luckiest person in this world to have the best sister and brother-in-law.

You know, I’ve read somewhere that 'true love is the soul's recognition of its counterpoint in another person'. And I think that that's a very rare thing in this world and something to be valued. And I'm really happy that my little sister's found it. Congratulations, my dear sweet sister and her lucky fiancĂ©, Ginto. I wish you both a very adventurous and wonderful life, together. Cheers to you both."

ps: Most of the last paragraph, I have 'borrowed' from the movie Wedding Crashers. The rest, I have written myself.

Frustrations of a Citizen

I guess, you might have guessed it already, by reading the title. Something related to politics or government or our society. This time, I just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
The incident happened last Wednesday (Sept 17). I had noticed in the news paper that morning about traffic restrictions in Bangalore due to the visit of the new leader of Nepal. Since I read only the headlines, I didn’t know which part of Bangalore, it will happen. Only when one of my colleagues pointed out that he plans to leave office early due to this [my office is near Bommanahalli], that I noticed the restrictions will be in the Hosur road between 5:30pm and 7:30pm. The ‘VIP’ was visiting the electronic city it seems.
I thought he was kidding when I heard him first. You can’t be serious. That is the peak time. All those traffic from electronic city will be stopped? I couldn’t believe it. But I didn’t want to take my chances. I too wanted to get out early. Unfortunately, by the time I made it to the road, it was almost 6pm.
There was a whole battalion of police in the road. I tried my best to cross the silk board flyover. After that I could take some short cuts. Just before the flyover, I was stopped by the police. Had I left my office one minute earlier, I would have passed the police. I was at the front of the queue. They stopped all the traffic through the silk board flyover. I had to wait nearly 30 minutes. I was lucky since I was almost in the front of the queue. I had my camera with me. I decided to have some snaps and thought about writing this blog.

You can see the queue in the service road next to the Hosur main road. The police escorts cleared all the vehicles from the main road to the side roads.
A policeman asking the 2-wheelers to park to the side
I guess the black sedan is the one which ‘contains’ the lucky ‘B*st**d’
You can see the silk board flyover devoid of traffic except for the pilot vehicles. Yes, all the vehicles in the road are escort vehicles. I took this picture around 1 minute after the black sedan passed, so that you can imagine the number of escort vehicles. It’s all the tax payers’ money I guess. I bet you won’t see this road this free of traffic during day time let alone for the peak times, except for ‘special’ occasions like these.
I don’t have any problems with ministers or ‘VIPs’ visiting places or attending meetings. I agree that they had announced it early. But, as a citizen and a tax payer, I believe that I have the right to disagree with whatever they do or decide to do. Everyone knows that 5:30pm – 8:00pm in Bangalore is the peak traffic time. They could have chosen some other time for this visit, probably before noon or afternoon. Why the hell they always choose/want to make the life of ordinary people more and more miserable? When did they stop caring for ordinary people? Or when have they ever cared anything about citizens? Since they are the leaders, they may be trying to lead the way for us. Who knows?
ps: feel free to fill in the quoted/starred words (eg: ‘VIP’) with whatever you like.

Vanilla Sky

It started with a video. One of my friends sends me the link to Tom Cruise’s 25th anniversary celebration site. There they have put a video featuring all his films. It is a really good video. I had already watched most of the movies in that video. Since I like him very much as an actor, I wanted to watch the rest of the movies too. I collected of them from my friends.

During my movie marathon, around 2 weeks back, I watched the movie Vanilla Sky. I had seen only the rating of the movie and didn’t know the theme of it. Naturally, I expected a good movie, but I was getting bored while the movie was progressing. By the time I was through with the movie, I found myself wanting to watch the end of the movie again and again. The soundtracks are also amazing.

The movie name is taken from a painting called Vanilla Sky by Claude Monet which is also shown in the movie. After I finished the movie, I searched for the painting in the net. Just like the movie, at first look, I didn’t find the painting that interesting. But after spending some time studying it, I found out that I am in love with the painting. May be it’s the theme of the movie or the mood of the name ‘Vanilla Sky’ that accelerated my feeling. I don’t know the technical terms used by artists, but the dreamy look of the painting, the serene buildings near the bank of the river and the vanilla colored sky, they all really caught me.


That’s when I decided to try that painting myself. I didn’t want to duplicate it just like that. I wanted to add some more color to it. And the result is here.


Do not compare both of the paintings as they cannot be compared. There are many faults like the sky is not really vanilla in color, the ratio of the sky and the land is not correct, the reflection of the trees is pathetic, the level of details of the buildings in my painting is almost zero and so on. But after finishing the painting, I felt satisfied, may be the satisfaction of creation, something like what they call “feels like God”. Even if its in paper or canvas, I could create or destroy worlds and life like that way I want to and that thought made me proud. I am not the one to judge this painting, but I think its not that bad of a beginner (my first acrylic in canvas). Now its all left to you readers, awaiting your comments.

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Harthal Festival

State: Kerala
‘Official’ Festival: Harthal a.k.a Bandh

In the state of Kerala – which is located at the southern most tip of Republic of India - we celebrate a unique festival. According to the official records, the state festival is called Onam which is celebrated once a year in memory of a long lost paradise. But recently, there has been some change in situations. There is another festival which is gaining popularity. Its called the Harthal. Previously it used to be called Bandh. The name change was due to a court order which says it conflicts what’s written on the Indian constitution.

The most unique feature of this festival is that it can happen at any time of the year. And it can occur any number of times a year. Some time it can be celebrated in a local area, some times all over the state and some other times, it can occur all over India. So it can also be called as a national festival as well. Sometimes they last for 12 hrs, and at other times even 24 hours. The most recent one happened was an all India one and it lasted for 24 hours.

During the harthal day, the supporters of the group who called for a harthal, wake up early in the morning and go out in the street to celebrate the festival. They stop all the vehicles in the roads and ask them 'politely' to participate in the harthal with them. They even stop train services some times. The supporters conduct rallies during the harthal day which is very inspiring to the common man. If there are any shops open during the day, they come in masses and help the hardworking shop keeper relax and enjoy the festival by closing the shop. At times some of the supporters gets a little excited and ‘accidentally’ break some windows of an office or a vehicle. If the police arrest them, don’t worry, the other supporters will help him escape. The government also supports the festival by providing all the help needed for harthal-ites. How can a government say no to people having entertainment?

This year itself, there had been around 100 harthals in Kerala. For the occurrence of this particular event, there are no special reasons. Any group who has some courage can declare a particular day as harthal. It’s up to a citizens will, whether to participate or not in the festival (theoretically). If you are willing to participate in the festival, you have to stay home and do nothing. That’s where the greatness of the people in Kerala deserves the limelight. 90% of the people willfully participate in the festival. No travels, no shopping, no work. As for the rest of the 10% who are stupid enough to go against harthal, they get special gifts like mental torture, attack on property etc.

Usually a harthal is called up by political parties. Sometimes even religious bodies also call for it. Regardless of which political party or which religion or which class of the society a person belong to, the people of Kerala supports a Harthal with their whole heart. That’s why I recommend it to be considered a national festival.

Some of the citizens who don’t like these festivals came up with a case in the court against the previous form which was called bandh. That’s when the court banned the festival. But the clever supporters found a workaround; they simply changed the name of the festival to harthal. Recently the high court of Kerala made a comment about these festivals which goes on something like this, “If the government is also supporting these 'festivals', even the God cannot save Kerala”. From what?? Need to spend some time thinking about it.

For more information: http://www.harthal.com/

Skillful Driver

I have noted this almost one year back. Its on the way to the place where I stay. My roommate pointed this first. I took these pictures some 4-5 months back to write a blog about. Its only now that I am doing it.

Well, at first glance, even if it may look like an ordinary picture, look closely. Look at how that vehicle is parked. Its parked perfectly between a tree and the electric post. Well, as some of you may think, my first impression was that its been parked there for a long time and the electric post was fixed in front of the pickup later. But then the next day while I was passing I noticed the vehicle was not there. And I saw some one driving it through the street. Again the next day I noted the vehicle back there. I am really wondering how that driver parked perfectly in between those two obstacles. He really is a skillful driver or a very patient one.

An Idea!

It actually started as a joke during my undergraduate studies. One of my friends told me about it. There is this friend of his who is not that brilliant and once she wanted to copy some files from my friend’s PC to her PC during a computer lab session. She came to his seat, used the mouse to select the file, right clicked the file and selected the option copy. Then she asked him to give his mouse. My friend got surprised and asked why? She said, “Now that I have copied the data to the mouse, I can connect this mouse to my machine and paste it there”. I am not sure whether it’s just a story or whether it actually happened. But since I know her, I consider all the possibility for this situation to happen.

When this ‘urban legend’ was supposedly happened, computers were running Windows 98 on PII/PIII processors, where mice used PS/2 connectors and I wonder whether flash memory and memory sticks were ever heard of the except as a costly gadget of a geek. Now that, around 6-7 years have passed, computers have powerful processors, almost everyone has a USB mouse and it’s difficult to meet a person without some form of storage, whether it’s a flash memory stick, or a portable MP3 player, or IPOD or even a portable HDD.

Now let’s come to the idea. Why can’t we think about what my dear friend had suggested? Attaching a storage device to a small mouse? Many of my friends including me have a laptop and it’ll be with me almost all the time and I keep a mouse also. In my case, I don’t like using the touchpad that extensively. So I take the mouse with me whenever possible. As of now, if I have to copy some data, I have to connect it through the USB device, copy it there. But if I have a storage attached to my mouse, may be I can simply connect my mouse to a USB port, click ‘copy to mouse’ and that’s it. Like my dear lady friend said, I can take the mouse out and connect it to another computer and it has the data.

Since most of the mouse models these days use a USB interface, there may not be much hardware innovation required I think. I am not that expert in the hardware design and all, but I hope this can be done without much trouble. One of my colleagues is carrying a small mouse with winding cable (which will go inside the mouse). In that case it will be very handy also I guess. Since both mouse & memories are relatively cheap these days, cost-wise also this may not be a trouble.

Right after writing till here, I did a Google-ing to find out whether anyone has already did this, and the results amazed me. Lots of them have already been out in the market. Here are some links.

http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/peripherals/usb-flash-memory-wireless-mouse-134610.php
http://www.sz-wholesale.com/shenzhen_China_products/Flash-Memory-Mouse_1.htm
http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2007/sep07/09-12mmm8000pr.mspx

I think I am little late with this idea. Anyway I cannot say the idea is really mine. Hats off to my lady friend, who had the foresight to predict such a product, even if it was an ‘accident’. One should not forget that many of the great inventions are the aftermath of ‘miraculous’ accidents.

ps: If this idea had struck me sometime back, I could have patented it (joking).

CUSTOMER CARE: REALLY CARING ABOUT CUSTOMERS?

For a long time, I was thinking about coming back to blogosphere. For last couple of weeks, everyday, I include blogging as part of my daily agenda, and I never get to do it. I don’t know what kept me from coming back. Sometimes I was busy with some work, sometimes I didn’t feel like writing at all, some times, I didn’t find any subject to write about. Today morning also I decided I will write something for sure, but I was totally clueless about what until some thing happened.

I have a BSNL broadband connection (I hope most of you people know about my fights to be a BSNL broadband consumer) and it’s a 256Kbps plan. I have been thinking about changing to a 512Kbps plan. For that I needed information on how it has to be done. After a lot of thinking about whether to call the BSNL customer care, I decided to go for it. I dialed the number and here is what happened.

I was amazed that some one picked up in the first ring itself. But the worse was about to come.

Cust Care: Hello, My name is Bob, how may I assist you?
Me: Hi, My name is John Smith. I am a BSNL Broadband customer. My phone number is xxxxxx.
Cust Care: Where are you calling from?
Me: Bangalore.
Cust Care: Please hold on for a second sir. Click!

I don’t understand what they have to check when I said I am from Bangalore. Some music started playing in the background. It went on for around 3 minutes. I got angry and cut the call and tried again. After 3 tries, I got connected again.

Cust Care: Good Morning, my name is Alice. Sir your complaint is registered. Can you repeat the complaint number?
Me: What complaint? I have never registered a complaint.
Cust Care: Oh! You have not registered? Then please tell me the complaint sir, I will register it for you.
Me: I don’t have a complaint, I just need some information. I am an existing BSNL broadband customer.
Cust Care: Ok. Please tell me your name sir.
Me: John Smith
Cust Care: Where are you calling from?
Me: Bangalore, please don’t cut.
Cust Care: What is the model of your modem sir?
Me: See Miss, I don’t have a complaint; I need some information about tariffs.
Cust Care: Tell me sir, what do you want to know?
Me: My current plan is 256Kbps. I want to change it to 512Kbps plan. How can I do it?
Cust Care: You can give a written request at your exchange that you want to change it.
Me: Do I have to give it in the exchange or the customer service centre? ‘Cos that’s where I gave my initial application.
Cust Care: You can give it there also sir.
Me: How long will it take?
Cust Care: It will take one month sir, now that this month is over, if you give request, it will be changed by next month.
Me: But today is 31st only?
Cust Care: Ah, yes sir. So if you give it today, you’ll get it tomorrow, or else the next month.
Me: uh!?
Cust Care: No sir, now that the updations have been over and it may take another month.
Me: uh! Are you sure?
Cust Care: Thank you for calling us sir, have a nice day.
Me: Waaaaaaaaait! I am not finished.
Cust Care: Click!

And that’s it. The call was over. I wonder whether they are caring for the customer or some one else? I don’t know how I can explain my feeling at that time. I felt like being slapped on my face again and again besides being paying them every month and coping up with the lame replies from them when ever I call them for any support or the outages. I wonder what can be done about it. 

Shadows of the Evil

Finally, it is happening all over again. Hell is breaking loose. Daemons and ghosts are emerging from everywhere. The calm after the destruction of the prime evil trio was just a short break.
It was not long ago that the battle between the forces of order and chaos got extended to the mortal realm, to the world called Sanctuary. Diablo, the lord of terror had poisoned the mind of the warrior who defeated Diablo before and confined the evil in his own mind. Then Diablo traveled east from Tristram to Lut Gholein, freed his brother Baal – the lord of destruction, continued to Kurast, freed his brother Mephisto - The Lord of Hatred and back to hell itself. There was only one mortal who stood in the way of the brotherhood, Mephisto, Diablo and Baal from destroying the mortal realm. The hero killed the three of them once and for all and Tyrael, the archangel destroyed the world stone in order to stop the evils from returning ever again.

Its been 2 decades since the destruction of the prime evils. Deckard Cain, the last of the Horadrim, senses new stirrings of evil and goes in search of its source. It’s documented as follows,
When Deckard Cain returns to the ruins of Tristram's Cathedral seeking clues to new stirrings of evil, a comet from the heavens strikes the very ground where Diablo once entered the world. The comet carries a dark omen in its fiery being and it calls the heroes of Sanctuary to defend the mortal world against the rising powers of the Burning Hells--and even the failing luminaries of the High Heavens itself.
Once again the forces of hell will rise, the perseverance of the human kind will be put to test, new heroes will emerge, computers will once again become battle grounds between the forces of the light and the dark and in the end only one will stand. Yes, Diablo III has been announced.

I don’t think its sheer coincidence that when the sequel to one of the most successful RPG games franchise was being announced, in Paris, on June 28th, I was playing the same game, for the third time, with yet another character. I was on the pursuit of Baal, on the valleys of Mount Arreat, after killing Mephisto and Diablo. By the time I was finishing with Baal, and Tyrael destroyed the world stone, I was tired. Still, I wished for one more act. Diablo II is the only game I have played more than 2 times. I wondered whether Blizzard will ever announce Diablo III.
Today morning, I was stunned to see the news about Diablo III being released. It’s like, you wish for something without much hope and its there, right in front of you. Diablo II is the only game I have played more than 2 times. The game play video and screenshots are just amazing. The game is fully 3D and you will get the feeling of accidentally stumbling up on an old friend when you see the aged barbarian or your once trusty companion, Deckard Cain. Currently only 2 characters have been revealed, out of one is a new class – the witch doctor.
The release date has not been revealed yet, but I believe, they will release it by fall 2008. I can’t wait to get my hands on that game. Even though, Blizzard was never that known for their graphics, this one is an exception I think. They always emphasized on the game play, the story line and the way you traverse through the game without even a single bit of boredom, every moment waiting to see what will happen next.
I am eager to know how they are going to tell the story this time, Diablo being killed already. May be, it’s a quest to prevent the return of Diablo, or may be, it’s about the introduction of a Greater Evil, who gave birth to the evil trio, coming to resurrect his sons. I can think of a number of combinations. One thing I am sure, as always, Diablo III will be one or two or even more steps ahead of Diablo II in all aspects, whether its technology or graphics or game engine or story line or the character classes or anything that is associated with the game.
Finally, the countdown has started. Once again, the wait for the hero who will defeat the evil forces that threaten the very existence of the world as we know it has started.
For more info, http://www.blizzard.com/diablo3/

10th Wedding anniversary

I was floating through the skies when I saw it. A rainbow. There was nothing else in sight. A bright rainbow in the whole sky. I looked down. I could only see the clouds. It slowly changed in to something more beautiful. A pair of eyes. They looked very familiar. I’ve seen them else where. I began drifting in the wind. But I wanted to stay with those eyes. I felt like they are telling me something. Suddenly the wind turned in to a storm. I could no longer fly. I was falling.
I opened my eyes. Yes! I figured it out correctly. Those eyes were that of my lover. She was sleeping peacefully right by my side. I tried to remember the dream. That beautiful rainbow and the clouds that turned in to her eyes. Nice way to start off a day. I simply lied there for some more time looking in to her face. Everyday I want to wake up seeing those eyes.
Slowly I got up. I went to kitchen, made 2 cups of coffee and came back to our room. She was not in the bed. I saw the doors to the balcony open. I went there. Sun was just rising. There she was, standing and enjoying the breeze. The view was gorgeous. I could hear the river flowing. And far away, there are the mountains.
I went there, kissed her on her neck.
“I love you”, she said.
I didn’t hear the words. Instead, I felt it. I was not sure whether she said it or I felt it from her face. I gave her the coffee. We simply stood there.
We didn’t talk for a long time. It was the silence that spoke for us. When she leaned to my chest, I could hear her breathing. I always loved the sound of her breathing. When she fall asleep in my lap hearing the stories I say for her, when I wake up in the middle of the night right beside her, and in the morning, when I wake up early, all these times, I enjoy that sound. Sometimes I felt that it’s my life force that is flowing through her body.
Ten years, its been ten years since the day we met. Now, I couldn’t even imagine surviving without her. It’s the small things, her sound, her smell, her presence, everything had become mine, my life. Without them, there is no me.
We spent the whole morning, sitting in the balcony, watching the river, the sky, the sun and everything else.
Every year, 4 days we will spend just for us – we had promised each others, when we got married. Some place where no one can reach us, no one will identify us, just like in dreams, living the dream.
After lunch, we again went to the balcony with the books we were reading. Soon, the sky began to get darker. Rain – it was about it rain. We closed our books. We could hear thunder. We could see the rain coming from the mountains. We heard it coming nearer and nearer. It sounded like wind chimes. We both wanted to dance in the rain. For the next 1-2hours, we went back to our school days. We made small streams of water and build a small dam across it. We made paper boats. They floated in to the river and slowly disappeared.
By the evening, there were only drizzles. We bathed, had a cup of coffee and went out to walk in the near by plantation. We could hear the sound of the frogs. Even for a moment, we didn’t part from each others. We held our hands tightly. Crazy it may sounds, but we were enjoying solitude in each others presence. We wanted that moment to last forever.
We came back, and I presented her with the red rose I secretly kept in my bag for her. “I love you”, I said. I could see her chins turning red. She hugged me tightly. I wanted to stay like that forever.
We went back to the balcony with a bottle of wine. She lighted a candle and we sat there enjoying the wine. After dinner, she came to me, lied down in my laps. I told her the story of the princess who got imprisoned by a witch and the prince who rescued her. She fell asleep soon. I enjoyed her breathing sound for some time. I put off the candle and accompanied her to bed.
Our 10th Wedding anniversary
31 June, 2020

My Best Friend’s Wedding

Day I [Before he came]

It was with a bit of amazement that I took his call. He is one of my best friends. We stayed together for around 7yrs, throughout college days and even after getting a job until he left to US. It’s very unusual for him to call me at this time of the day. Anyway, I had a hint that he might be coming home for vacation.

“Yeah, tell me da”, I said.

“I’m coming next month”, came the answer.

My assumption was correct. He actually is coming.

“How long?”

“4 weeks”

Wow, great, I thought. My mind started planning. I highlighted 4 weeks in my calendar.

“I marked the dates, so what plans?”

“Its my marriage”

“What?, you are kidding right?”

“Nope”

“Holy mother of f***ing ****, congrats man!”, I had a hunch that it might happen within 1-2 yrs. But never did I thought this fast. I was surprised.

I have to apply for leave, have to book the tickets to my native. My mind was racing about the ‘TODO’s.

“Ok man, see ya soon. Mail me the details later”, I cut the call.

Then again, I thought about our times together. He is a friend with whom I didn’t have to talk much. Just silence is enough. When I had difficult times, I used to start my days by crying on his shoulders. I suddenly missed him and those days. Even I felt jealously towards his girlfriend. She is also a good friend of mine. I wrote a mail congratulating them.

I couldn’t get exactly what my feeling was. Happiness? Jealousy? Missing Him?

Day II [Before his marriage]

“Hey da, tell me. How are the preps for your marriage? Only 3 more days na? I can’t wait to get there. What are our plans for the bachelor’s party? What do I need to bring from here?” I couldn’t stop asking questions. There were many more. I wanted to be with him as soon as possible.

Tomorrow, I can go tomorrow, I thought.

“Hey man, listen. There has been a problem.”

“Problem? What problem?”

“The function has been postponed”

“What? What happened?” I didn’t know what to tell him or ask him. We both were not that good with words.

“One of my relatives passed away. So we thought we will do it some other time.”

“Oh! Ok. So, what are you going to do this weekend?, I’ll be coming anyway. We can have some fun.” I proposed.

“Nothing specific”, he said.

“Wait, I’ll cancel my tickets, you come here. Just like the old times. There won’t be any of our friends here in Bangalore, ‘cos everyone is going to Kerala to attend your marriage. So, its just you and me.”

“Done”

“See ya on Sunday”, I said.

Day III [Marriage Day]

“Hey man, here I am”, he said.

“Congrats, today is your marriage day right?”

“Yeah! Ha ha”

We had breakfast, went to some shopping malls. We walked and talked like there is no tomorrow. We had his ‘marriage’ lunch from a Italian restaurant. I pretended to be his bride. ;) There was slight drizzling by that time. We enjoyed it. By evening, we bought some wine and a variety of non-veg dishes and went home. Just sat there, had some wine, beer & vodka and watched TV. And he celebrated his ‘supposed to be’ first night in my apartment alone ;).

The next day I took off from my office and we roamed around, bought whatever we felt like buying, did whatever we felt like doing and by evening, we were so tired that, I couldn’t even climb 2 steps to a restaurant . He extended his stay for one more day. Next day evening, by the time he had to board the bus, we both became silent again. I saw him off, walked slowly back to my apartment.

If his marriage had not been postponed, we could never have those moments. “Marriage can happen anytime, but times like this come once in your life”. For the next one week, I was completely in the old times. Those 2-3 days were one of the best in my life.

Movie Review: The Man from Earth

Usually I don’t write movie reviews. I write only if they influence me somehow. And that is precisely one of the reason I want to write about this movie. I am almost sure that most of you haven’t heard even the name of this movie. Even I didn’t. I don’t know why I wanted to watch the movie, may be the imdb rating, its 8.2. And recently I got lucky to get a copy of this movie from one of my friends. Yesterday I thought about watching the movie.

Its not a flashy movie, I mean with all the new photographic equipments and all. It looks just like a documentary, so at first I was confused whether I want to continue with it. Then again, it’s had a duration of only 1hr 30mins (approx:). So I decided to go on with it. Also, its not an action or romance or horror or anything like that. But it’s a drama/thriller I would say.

The whole movie is just some people talking about an idea (if I may call it so). I am not sure how to explain it fully. You have to watch the movie. Let me give you an example, just think about the movie matrix (one of my all time favorites), without all the fancy stuff, just the part where Morpheus explaining to Neo what the matrix is, that it is just a computer generated world to keep the humans as slaves. And think about the whole movie as a discussion about that concept. And basically that’s it. A concept which you are not familiar, or another angle or a completely original idea (original to me) with which you are viewing the things as you know it. It will be amazing how everything you know, or you think you knew will change when we apply a completely new theory to it. When you come to know things which you thought are basis of the existence of something, turn out to be something else, what would you feel?

I believe I have said enough to ignite the curiosity in you. Now you just watch it.

[Spoilers Ahead]

Are you very sure that you want to read what the movie is about? I think you should watch it. Taking a decision on whether to write about the movie here was difficult for me and later I decided to give a warning and write about it.

Alright, here it is, just think, that if there was a man, a Cro-Magnon (pre-historic human being) who had the gift of not aging, who is living at the present. Not a re-incarnation. Just he was born in the prehistoric ages, he aged till may be some 30 years, and then never aged and he lived through all the history, watching all the milestones in the history. Some one who actually lived at the times of Egyptian Pharaohs, the time of Moses, who happened to meet Buddha, and who is actually a very prominent figure in the history (that is suspense, you have to watch the movie to know who it is), who holds some 15-20 graduate degrees in almost all the sciences and arts, who had all the time in the world to do whatever he wanted to do. Imagine how much knowledge he had over all these ages. Imagine all the dangers he had to survive to be in the present. Amazing concept isn’t it?

Once again, whatever I have written here is my own opinion. You can agree or disagree with it.

The Story of a Young Man

I am going to write a story I know for some time. Remember the rules of a story “No Questions!”. Once up on a time, there lived a boy. He loved his parents very much and they were his world. They were friends. He respected his teachers and loved his friends and no one had a bad comment about him. He excelled in his studies too. Everyone treated him with respect.

He grew up and became a handsome young man. After his studies he got a well paid job in a far away city. He was lucky that he got a job he always wanted. He loved his job. He dedicated his life for the job except for the time he spent for his parents. He always tried to keep in touch with his parents, visit them at least once in 2 months or so. He was happy, doing what he likes to do. He believed there is nothing more to this world that makes his life more perfect.

On one such day, after work, while he was walking to his apartment that he saw her. The first thing that he noticed was her smile. Something specific about it, it struck him. The next day, he left office at the same time and saw her again. That day, he told his friends about her. One of his friends knew her. He filled him up with the details. She was from the neighboring country working in a flower shop next to the young man’s office.

The next day, he went there, bought some flowers and put them at his desk. It was then that she noticed him. She noticed a glare in his eyes. A special ‘something’ that she had never seen in any where else. Slowly it began. He became a regular customer of that shop. They became friends and gradually they fell in love. Day by day, it became sure to him that she is the one person to be in his life, the one who will make his life complete.

No one knew about their relationship. He wanted his parents to be the first to know about her. He wanted to surprise them. He flew home. He was very excited about telling this to his parents. He came home, told everything. He expected them to be happy for him. Instead he saw them crying for the first time in his life. They couldn’t accept it. He never thought that petty things like, language, color or religion to be a reason.

Soon the sadness turned in to anger. His parents began trying their best to make him decide against her. He was broke. He flew back to his work. She was waiting for him in the airport. Seeing her smile, he felt relaxed. He couldn’t tell her what happened. He had promised her that he will come back to take her back to his home place.

He lied to her. He told that his parents agreed. He lost focus in everything, even his work. The only place he found solace was with her. There he was just that energetic young man. She didn’t suspect anything. Soon she moved in with him.

In the mean time, his parents were busy looking for a match for him. They somehow wanted him to forget that girl. They called him more often, he didn’t talk much, but he was cautious not to hurt them. His parents didn’t tell him about their plans for him. For them, he will agree anything they say and they believed its their duty to take a decision for his good future.

Months passed by, she had a baby girl, he was happy, now he thought he has enough courage to tell his parents about everything and he was sure that they will agree to this relation and will accept her as their daughter. He flew home again.

He reached home to see all the decorations in front of his house. His parents were surprised and at the same time, happy to see him. They were about to call him to come home for his marriage.

Everything was set in place. Everyone was invited. There were only 2 more days left for the marriage. He tried to tell his parents what he came for. No one listened to him. He begged his parents for a private talk. They agreed, he told this marriage will never happen no matter what, he still love the other girl. His parents showed him a bottle of poison and told him, he can choose between them and the girl.

He didn’t know what to do. The whole night he stayed awake. His tension soon turned in to revenge. He agreed for the marriage. He acted cool and happy. He had a plan in his mind. The marriage happened. The couple flew back the day of the marriage itself. He rented a new house.

The next day he went for work. He came back home late. Everyday this happened. The bride became extremely sad. But nothing changed. The girl whom he loved didn’t know about this either. He managed to convince everyone that he is busy with his work.

The bride soon became suspicious. She found out about the girl soon. She was broke. She called her folks. They became angry. They came to the city where he worked, brought them both back his house. They talked, the bride wanted divorce, he was only happy to agree to that. His parents became angry, they contacted the girl, told her about his marriage and cursed her. She was broke. She refused to see him afterwards.

He lost everything. He lost his love, his child, his parents. He hated his home place, the city he worked and even his work. Everyone hated him, his friends, colleagues, even strangers who heard this story. One day he fled. No one knows where he is now.

The Socrates Triple Filter Test!

One of my friends send me the following as an e-mail forward. I feel its something which is to be shared with others.



In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem.
One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said, "Do you know what I just heard about your friend?"
”Hold on a minute," Socrates replied. "Before telling me anything, I'd like you to pass a little test. It's called the Triple Filter Test."
”Triple filter?"
”That's right," Socrates continued. "Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you're going to say. That's why I call it the triple filter test.”
”The first filter is TRUTH. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?"
”No," the man said, "actually I just heard about it and..."
’All right," said Socrates. "So you don't really know if it's true or not. Now let's try the second filter, the filter of GOODNESS. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?"
”No, on the contrary..."
”So," Socrates continued, "you want to tell me something bad about him, but you're not certain it's true. You may still pass the test though, because there's one filter left: the filter of USEFULNESS. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?"
”No, not really."
”Well," concluded Socrates, "if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?"



Nice story uh! In our day to day lives, we all are interested in 'gossips' [including me], but this story might be helpful in understanding what we gain from those 'special sessions'.
- Manu
Blogged with the Flock Browser

A Complete Browser : Flock

I've always been a fan of Internet Explorer. I recently [about 6months back] started to use Mozilla Firefox. I cannot state an exact reason why I switched to Firefox. Some pages were not properly working in IE, so I thought I will try Firefox, and thats about it. Even after I switched to Firefox, there are some times when I preferred IE itself. Even with all those cool Firefox addons, I never felt I won't survive without Firefox.

Two weeks before I read about a new browser - Flock : The Social Browser [thats what the splash screen says]. The author mentioned both cons and pros, but in the end, he stated that, now its difficult for him to live without the cool features of Flock. Thats when I thought I will also give it a try. What more to say, within days, I became a fan of Flock. I don't think I can describe all the cool features of Flock here. Let me first say, its really one of the coolest [web-related] thing I've ever seen. The main thing I liked about it is, its built using Firefox code itself. So we will inherit all the things we liked about Firefox [including security feautres] plus the Flock specific features. I had customized Firefox in my way, and I was doubtful whether the change is worth. But its more than worth, I would say.

For explaining the features, I am attaching some screenshots here, out of which one shows this blog in the Blog editor...




From the first impression, it looks so flashy, right? The effective browsing area is less though, when we use all the features, but there is option to turn them off.

In the first image you can see the original Firefox features like tabbed browsing, the same Find tool bar etc. The Foxy Tunes [lower right - music] and the PicLens [top right] are 2 addons worth mentioning here. They are originally for Firefox and I wanted to blog about them separately. The third screen is of the PicLens. It shows all the images on a web page. It is really cool for Flickr users, google image searches etc. Foxy Tunes lets you control your music player from browser.

Now to the Flock specific features. You can stay connected to almost all the 'famous' social networking sites, photo sharing site, mail accounts etc. You can see the accounts bar, where I have logged in to my gmail, yahoo, flickr, youtube, blogger, picasa and del.is.ious accounts. Then, there is a media bar on the top of the browser. In the first screen, I have chosen flickr stream based on interestingness. You can select the stream based on ratings, key words etc and it supports you tube, photo bucket etc too. There is an integrated Blog editor and Photo Uploader.

In the button bar, there are buttons to display RSS feeds, Favorites, People, Web Mail accounts, Blog Editor, Photo Uploader, Web Clipboard etc on the left panel. In the second screen you can see the integrated Blog editor, friends list on the left panel, the Fast Dial - A Firefox addon [you can call it - visual book marks] etc

Even if I wrote lot of good things, there is still space for improvement. There is no support for Orkut, which is the social networking site I prefer. There is no support of Picasa stream in the Media Bar. The integrated blog editor is almost pathetic. You cannot format the text alignment [can see in this blog - no alignment and also the buttons for alignment are missing]. Then, adding an image to the blog, its difficult. I had to use the blogger editor to add the screenshots in this blog.

So thats the cons and pros which I think are worth mentioning [which I use frequently]. Over all I give this web product 9/10 score. Now its all up to you to test it. Good Luck!
Blogged with the Flock Browser

I Say No to Videos on Flickr

I am a huge fan of flickr [the photo sharing site] and photography is a part of my life. I like to keep a vivid memory of everything that happens around me and that’s how my craze for photography began I think and it dated back to my college days. But at that time, I only had a conventional camera, which uses films. You have to buy the films, take the photos and develop it which is a costly process. There was no place for errors. So my interests stayed only in moments with my friends and relatives. Even then, I have around 12-15 albums with all the memories of my college days.

Then came the digital revolution, everything was digitized. (ofcourse digital cameras existed long back also, but I couldn’t afford it) Then I saved for a digital camera and I searched for it for long time and acquired my Canon Digital IXUS 800IS, the first camera of Canon in the IXUS series with IS feature in it. Its been almost 2 years since I had it, and what more to say, I have taken more than 15000 photos in it. Now you know what I am talking about. I am looking forward for the day I will acquire an SLR.

I got the freedom to do all the experiments I want to do with a photography, I began taking pictures of everything of interest to me. I always loved the details of our nature. The beauty of leaves, the mighty clouds, the colourful sunsets, the intensity of flowers, everything was small wonders to me. And thus I got involved in photography and what do people say about happiness, it will grow when you share. I wanted to share my experience and satisfaction with others and that’s when I heard about flickr. First I thought flickr as a bit complicated, but slowly I saw the potential flickr offered. The flickr community! Also the flexibility of flickr, the things you can do with your photographs. They were not just photos anymore; I felt more than that, much more. You could share it with millions of people, you can place your photos in the world map, you can write comments, you can classify and categorize, and many more things. I became and admirer of flickr very fast. The quality with which they provide us with their services, it was superb.

But now, I have some disagreement with what they are doing now. They have added the video sharing feature in flickr. An ordinary person might wonder what I am complaining about. I have to be happy with it, ‘cos I have more features. But ask a true ‘flickerian’, you’ll know. There are groups which say, ‘We say NO to videos on flickr’ and ‘No videos on flickr’ and many administrators of groups are banning users from adding videos to their group. I feel I also have to do something about it.

Here it is… My protest to videos on flickr!

They are changing the true vision of flickr (the way I see it), by adding videos. May be people say I am afraid of change. But for sure Yahoo could have started another service like flickr video or yahoo video. But the chances of something like that to gain momentum in a short while, [competing with YouTube] are very small as compared to adding the feature to already existing, widely established, flickr. I can give you an example. What will you feel if the favorite flavor of icecream, is modified for better results by changing or adding another ingredient to it? [I know it’s a terrible example, but that’s all I could come up with when I tried to convert my feelings to words] I hope something will be done about it.