• Defying nature's way?

    What I'm going to write here will sound hard and inhuman. I am not taking any stand here and am merely elaborating on a discussion I had with someone over tea recently. The person happens to be a reputed doctor, who devotes a lot of time towards social and scientific projects that help the poor. As the wheel of time rolls by, Mother Nature has tested a multitude of species for their ability to survive. Many have passed. Many have not. Those that did at some point of time, probably did not make it through another hurdle. This iteration goes on and only the fittest continue to breath today. I once read that a particular kind of snake, leaves the vicinity of its own eggs as they begin to hatch. Why? Because it knows fully well that it might end up eating its own offspring. Without anyone to protect them, many of these young snakes are struck off the roster of life soon. But the few that do grow up strong. Bird Joe feeds its young until its time for them to learn how to fly, after which, the chicks are made to fend for themselves. Hard love? It works. The humans, being the geeks of the animal kingdom, have managed to evolve into a being of higher understanding, at least on a relative scale. Our thoughts plumet into the abyssmal depths of life and death. Our will to survive has become so strong, that over time, we continue to learn new ways to cheat the grim reaper of his harvest. Modern medicine has rendered many a disease 'curable'. Science and technology have eased our lives so much, that the amount of physical and mental strain we need to endure is going down a steep curve. Longevity is on the rise. All of this has a very positive air about it, and makes one glad that we aren't living in the past. Our society has had a habit of preserving the weak. We call this humanity. The impaired live as long as their healthier brethren, and even breed a new generation of impaired, sending down genes into another generation. The impoverished often don't make the cut in a fast moving world, remain poor, and become parents to children who're again born impoverished. Another case is where the incompetent are taken care of society (useless people being looked after by their aging parents?), relieving the person of a do-or-die situation. This goes on and on, with the numbers multiplying rapidly. Our weak continue to be preserved instead of perishing. Have we defied nature's way? If yes, when will our species be made to pay for it? Are we already paying the price? If our weak become weaker, and the strong become stronger, how will this affect us as a species? I can think of way too many questions here. But I see the sunny side here by trying to think that by trying to strengthen the weak over time, there is hope that all of mankind converges into the stronger side someday, maybe several millennia later. That soft love might be the key to survival. If so, we have yet again proven ourselves as supreme (in a king of the hill sesnse at least). As above, so below. :)
  • GSoC 2010 Wrap Up

    So it's official, I've successfully cleared Google Summer of Code 2010! It's really good to see ns-3-click is being welcomed with open arms by the community! Even better, it's already being used, even before the merge with ns-3-dev. Thanks to that, I was able to spot a few bugs in the code, one of which was a really ugly memory leak. The formal review is going on as of now, and with a little more time, I guess it should be ready for a merge with ns-3-dev. The only concern some of the developers have raised with my code is that I'm introducing a dependency with the Click L3 inside the Csma and Wifi NetDevice code. I knew I wouldn't get away with that too easily, but I couldn't figure out a better way of getting it done! :P Waiting for some good feedback here. :)
  • 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.