• The 'Why' behind my Window Seat Crusades

    Throughout a man's journey across the seven stages of life, there would have been at least one occasion where he would have fought for the beloved window seat. Be it an airplane, a ship, a train or even a car, it isn't rare to find children letting their fists decide on who gets to grace the seat closest to that flat transparent slice of soda lime. Many of these warriors are as clueless about their quest as are engineering students of today. Just because I use the word 'children' doesn't imply that I don't think adults chase the same goal. The only difference here is that we don't fight about it. And yes, I say 'we', because I still crave for that blessed position, even 22 long years after my "Hello World!" moment. When going on a long journey, the necessary condition to retain your sanity would be to either carry a portable music player, or to have interesting co-passengers who you can strike a good conversation with. I've never owned an MP3 device until recently, and regarding the second condition, I'm very unlucky, as the previous posts on my travels would suggest. It's either annoying brats and their annoying parents, or old people, neither of which rank high on my 'interesting-humans' list. I find it difficult to understand why it is so that whenever I book a ticket for some form of travel, the probability of a hot chick reserving a ticket for the same train/plane at the same time from some other corner of the planet is zero. Anyhow, all these years, I used to let my imagination keep me busy through my travels. Most of what I write are culminations of thoughts that go through my head during a journey. This article itself has it's roots on my recent trip to Bangalore, which I will be describing shortly. My head works best when I'm staring into nothingness, when I'm staring through solid matter, like Superman using his X-ray vision. On a train, this is quite difficult if you're looking ahead, and you have another passenger in front of you. If you're a young man in his early twenties like me, and there's an attractive woman in front of you, this is surely not going to work well for you (I haven't tried it yet, and I won't). So I've always considered it important that I get the window seat while on a train, only to kill my own boredom with my thoughts, and not because of the sights that await me outside. On a plane, one might argue that the person-in-front-of-you issue doesn't apply. That is correct. However, it is still a lot more easier to stare into blankness while you're onboard an aircraft. An endless field of clouds isn't going to keep you in awe for more than 10 seconds, and beyond that, your mind gets to take charge, no distractions whatsoever. My animal instinct for survival got the best of me during this last train journey of mine. The weather refused to let me sleep away the 8 hours I had with me, and Murphy ended up giving me the seat farthest from the window. A very talkative and elderly person occupied what I felt was my right. He was able to strike a conversation with everyone around him. I couldn't. It was only fair that I be where he is. Holding on to my belief, I thought I'd manipulate my nemesis' mind to save myself. Armed with my more than obvious body language, I decided to fight for what was mine. Luckily for me, the person between me and the old gentleman (we'll call him Gramps from here on), had his eyes get the better of him, and managed to take a nap on the upper berth. So the only battle for me to fight was with Gramps. Like a panther in the shadows, I silently waited for my target to make a move. And soon, he did. Nature's call FTW. I seized the opportunity to slide casually towards the now unoccupied window seat. The plan was simple, when Gramps returns, I move aside, all the while hoping that he says, "No, it's ok, you can sit there." But I wasn't to rejoice soon; I never heard those words when Gramps got back. I wasn't going to give up yet. Achilles didn't give up after his first unsuccessful siege against the Gates of Troy. Battles of this importance are meant to be long. I got another opportunity a little later, when Gramps left his seat to stretch his legs, but the outcome of my attempt was the same. Gramps merely occupied his seat which I had temporarily conquered. But persistence is the key, and after the third attempt, those words finally came, and I high fived myself inside my head. I also pulled off a very polite "Uncle, do you want to sit here?" later on, knowing fully well that his answer would be "No, it's alright". The several hours that followed were blissful. I took a moment of that time to ask myself why I did what I did, which is when I decided to write this post. So there you go! :) I wonder how many others feel the same? Cheers anyway!
  • Interpreting Birthday Wishes on Facebook

    A very important aspect of birthdays, is the part where your friends wish you. Few of them surprise you with a party, a handful may call you up, some might leave you an SMS, and the rest? Well, they'll wish you on Facebook. The advantages of wishing someone on Facebook are manifold. The miser's way to look at it is as follows:
    A surprise party for a friend: Rs. 500 Calling up your friend to wish him/her: Rs. 3.00 Texting a friend on his/her B'day night: Rs. 1.00 Wishing him/her on facebook: 'Price' 'less' There are some ways to wish a person that cost you tangibly, for everything else, there's Facebook.
    Anyhow, it's very well possible that among all the people who wished you via Facebook, there are some genuine wishes tied in there as well. A lot is conveyed through the overall tone of the post that the person named X writes on your wall. Given below is a simple characterisation and analysis of different kinds of Facebook wishing methods. Note that none of these have ever happened to me, because I've never been on Facebook during any of my birthdays. :) Since Wall Posts are public by default, these happen to be my observations from countless number of Birthday wishes that appear on my news feed. So with no further ado: 1) The personalised birthday wish: Example: "Hey Pluto! Have a wonderful Birthday! Hope you write twice as much code as you wrote last year! And don't forget our little race to the Turin prize dream. :)" Analysis: It usually starts off with a pet name of yours. Even otherwise, note how personalised the post is all in all. And finally, it ends with a nice memory that you and that person share. Truly genuine! 2) The you-happened-to-be-on-my-list-so-here-goes wish: Examples: "Happy Birthday!" / "happy bday!" / "happy birthday. Have a blast!" / "happy bday. Hope you have a gr8 yr ahead of u!" etc. Analysis: Exactly what the name suggests. These are standard birthday wish templates that everyone unconsciously types. It's perfectly understandable if 90% of your wishes look like this. After all, there'd be hardly any Facebook users who have contact lists filled with only their best friends. Right? 3) The I-care-so-little-I-don't-even-bother-to-double-check-the-spelling wish: Examples: "happy bitrhday!" / "happo bithday" Analysis: This can fit into category 2) , with an extra tinge of 'I don't care'-edness. The number of such wishes that you'll get is directly proportional to the number of people you have in your contact lists (and consequently, the number of people who don't give a rat's ass about you having become a year older). 4) The I'm-obnoxious-when-it-comes-to-online-presence wish: Examples: "hAPPYYYY BDAYY!!!11 YOOOOOO" / "hey budddyyyy. hav   a happpyyyyyyy bday!!! hav a gud1 1!!" / "HAPPY BIRTHDAY HAV RCOKIN PARTY YAAAAAAAAR!" Analysis: These are typically a trademark of people who have the 'describe me' section of their profiles filled with variants of the following:
    a) "hiiiiiiiiii" b) "wat do i say abt myself??? if u want 2 knw more, add me as a frend!!!! i promise ill b best frend of u!" c) "im a cool person...... u wont regret doing frandship wid me cuz i live life to fullest." d) "HIIII! IM LOOKING FOR FRAANDSHIP. IM VERY FUN TO HANGOUTWITH"
    ... and so forth. Yes, the word you're looking for, is lame. Unfortunately, all social networking websites happen to be littered with such profiles. That's as much as I can think of right now. And by the way, I personally admit to using methods 1) and 2). :) Happy Facebooking!
  • Some things you might need to know when applying for a visa

    I had to go through the hassle of applying for a Visa last month. While it would have been a smooth procedure for just about anyone, Murphy decided to make things otherwise in my case. What I went through is something I won't wish upon my worst enemy (then again, I might). So here is a list of caveats you're likely to encounter. Note that I'm an Indian citizen applying for a Portuguese Visa.
    1. Getting an Apostille/non-Apostille attestation from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA): This for me, was the biggest issue I'd ran into, hence, I'm listing it as the first. Different countries expect either of the Apostille or the non-Apostille attestation from the MEA. Now the catch is, before these people attest your document for you, they will expect you to get it verified from a trusted source. This usually equates to your State's Home Department. In case of Educational documents, it is the Education Department of the State from where you got the respective degree. This implies that if you completed your Class X from state A, Class XII from state B, and your bachelor's degree from state C, you're fucked. You'll need to visit the respective Education Departments of each of these states and have them 'authenticate' or 'verify' your document. What they will do is put a seal on your original document claiming that it is a valid and legitimate document.Once you do that, you'll need to go to the MEA office at Patiala House, New Delhi, in order to get the Apostille/non-Apostille attestation. Make sure you have sufficient photocopies of your documents, and that you carry Postal Order stamps of INR 50 for each document that you want attested. You'll need to get there a little early, lest the queue builds up. The timing for submission of documents for attestation is 9:00AM to 12:00PM. Once you submit it, they'll hand you a receipt. You'll need to produce this receipt after 4:00PM in the evening of the same day, which is the distribution time for attested documents.
    2. Police Clearance Certificate: If the country you are to visit expects you to produce a Police Clearance Certificate for your Visa application, then you have two options ahead of you. The first method, is the one I recommend. Simply apply with the Miscellaneous Services form at your respective Regional Passport Office. If you had to undergo a police verification recently (in the last 6 months), you will be given your PCC on the same day that you apply. I applied at the Malappuram (Kerala) RPO, and over there it seemed like _everyone_, was getting their PCC's on the very day, even if their passports were a couple of years old. The other option that you have would be to approach the Police Commissioner's Office of your locality. Getting the PCC from here is a hassle. You'll need to run around like crazy, bribe if you have to, and once you get the PCC, do NOT, forget to get it authenticated/verified from your state's Home Department. Otherwise, the MEA won't attest it for you. On the other hand, the PCC that you get from the RPO can be directly taken to the MEA for attestation.
    3. Verify the documents' checklist on the Embassy's web site one day before you apply: I had to spend an extra 7 days running around for my visa because of this. The day I'd gone to the Portuguese Visa Application centre run by VFS, I was told that I need to get my educational documents attested by the MEA as per a new rule the Embassy introduced _two days before_. Yes. That sucks. So make sure you get all your documents verified beforehand so that you needn't run back to your respective states if such a scenario arises.
    That's as much as I can think of now. If you'd like to add anything here, feel free to comment below.
  • Erotomania

    I startle to the alarm of my cell phone. 7:30, the pixels read. I wake up on one side of a double bed, the window beside me. It's a beautiful morning, I tell myself. The sunshine is convincing. I slowly roll over to my side. The other half of the bed is empty, as always. I sigh to myself while running my hand across the sheets, where I wished she would be right now. I know she's waiting for me down the hall just like every other morning. My heart longed to see her before I did anything else. I get off the bed, and proceed to the living room. I look around. I find her in her usual position by the table. I give her the gleam that she expects from me every morning. A smile comes to my face as I find her looking down, shy as ever. I tell myself that I love her. Even as I walk towards her, she doesn't stare at me in the face. I am right in front of her, barely an inch separating our bodies. I pick her up, hold her close, and lay her on the table. With two fingers, I slowly lift her face up. No matter how many times I look into those eyes, my thirst can never be quenched. I know she's waiting for me. She knows I'm waiting for her. She expects me to take charge in such situations, and I try not to disappoint her either. I know she wants me to get her started as soon as possible. And I don't hesitate. Engraved into my head, I don't need to be told how to go about this. I know her inside out. I trace a finger down her face, and slowly down to that all important spot of hers. She begins to purr, and even without hearing that, I know my actions turn her on. A glow lights up in her face, with a brightness that I can stare into forever. I tingle at the thought. I merely rest my hands against her front, lightly caressing it. She breathes harder, and I can feel her heating up as well. I love this part, where she teases me, keeping me waiting, telling me that I can't begin yet. Seconds tick by slowly, we both look into each other's eyes. At last, she gives me the look that says, "I'm all yours now." I can read it from her looks. I always have been able to. We never need to speak to each other in such moments. Her breathing almost comes to a pause, indicating that I make my move that very instant. And almost mechanically, I login with my username and password, open a browser and check my mails.
  • And it Click(!)ed

    Another ns-3-click update from my side. The Ipv4ClickRouting class is almost done. I tried writing some sample to code to get a Click router based node to send a packet, and have another similar node receive it via a CSMA link. And it actually works! w00t! :) Meanwhile, it seems like I'm going to have to deviate from my proposal a bit. The project proposal talked about using Click strictly for layer 3 services only. This meant that we were to stay away from using Click's MAC layer functionality for the time being. This naturally means that once a Click graph is processed, we'll need to receive the packet on the ns-3 side as an IP packet, as opposed to an Ethernet encapsulated one. The original plan was to send this IP based packet down to a node's Ipv4Interface, from which point onwards, we'd be following the normal ns-3 path of a packet. But this has complications of its own, the most important of them being the fact that we can't perform a RouteOutput() query when using external routers like Click. RouteOutput(), in a normal scenario, returns the route that the packet is to follow, which is a method provided by the Ipv4RoutingProtocol instance of a node. Thus, given an IP packet returned from Click, we have no way of knowing what the 'next hop' destination of the packet is, which needs to be known in order to forward a packet. I'm presently proposing to directly send this packet down a node's NetDevice, thus bypassing even the ArpL3Protocol. The advantage with this scheme is that a user gets to test the _whole_ of his Click graph as it is! The only disadvantage is that we need to extract the required MAC layer details from the packet and strip off the packet's Ethernet header before forwarding it down the NetDevice, since all the NetDevice subclasses append an ethernet header in their Send() methods. While this is hardly 10 lines of code, purists may argue that a packet going down a stack never needs to have a packet stripped off it. Oh well. I'm presently trying to discuss this on the ns-developers mailing list. Let's see what everyone else thinks. :)