Thursday, March 31, 2005


15-yr-olds who have used cannabis within the past year:

RankMale, %Female, %
1Canada 43.3 Canada 37.5
2Switzerland 40.3 Switzerland 35.3
3United States 36.5 United Kingdom 31.7
4United Kingdom 36.3 Greenland 31.1
5Greenland 36.1 Spain 30.0
6Spain 31.6 United States 26.2
7France 31.2 France 23.8
8Czech Republic 30.9 Czech Republic 23.2
9Slovenia 27.3 Slovenia 21.4
10Ireland 25.5 Belgium 20.2
From The Economist, Pocket World in Figures, 2005 Edition

The top few countries show about a 5-6% difference between males and females, except the US and France which have about a 10% difference.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Oh I forgot to mention...
I finally got connectivity at home!
The dudes from Airtel came yesterday evening and did some wiring in my house. They then came this morning and hooked up the dsl modem, etc. I was really impressed by how professional they were. They had everything up and running within 25 minutes. And they showed up at the time they promised me. Very rare. I was all smiles. The wireless is up and running as well.
BTW. I still can't concentrate on work.

Winding up/down.

I'm having problems concentrating right now. I'm feeling pretty burnt out from work and really in need of some chill.

SO here's the plan for this weekend (at the risk of jinxing myself by prematurely publishing it):

  • Friday night: leave by bus from Bangalore
  • Saturday morning: arrive on the banks of the Kali river
  • Saturday + Sunday: Take kayaking lessons; possibly do some white-water kayaking.
  • Monday morning: Hop on a bus. Arrive in Goa.
  • Monday afternoon/Tuesday: What? It's already Tuesday evening!? I want more prawn stuffed papad!
  • Wednesday morning: shower at the office and get back into the grind.

I'm sooo excited.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Pining for the outdoors.

This past week there's been a tournament going on at KSLTA so we haven't been playing tennis. I went and watched a little bit yesterday morning - it was awe inspiring and made me itch to go play (in private so as not to embarass myself).

Not playing tennis all week, combined with the fact that I haven't been camping or hiking since I got here, plus the fact that we're scambling to meet a code complete deadline; that means I'm just dying to go outside and play.

I found out that there are quite a few adventure travel companies in Bangalore so hopefully I'll get outside this weekend.

It's 2:30am and I'm typically not a night person.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Holi is tomorrow.
We celebrated at work today. Someone brought in colors today and my face, hair, and shirt are now a mixture of yellow, pink, blue, green, red, and some other colors. My shirt is also pretty much soaked with water. I had forgotten to wear old clothes today (actually I figured since Holi is tomorrow I didn't need to do that today).

I'll post pictures as soon as I get them. The office looks funny though because everyone is walking around doing work with peacock colored faces.

Update: Here's a post that has pictures.

Are you happy?

are you happy doing what you do?

On a different note, I'm curious to know what rss feeds you're tracking. Here's what I read. Tell me if there're other interesting ones you think I'd like.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Life expectency

So I was looking through the Life Expectancy rankings and felt suddenly ashamed at not having even heard of the number one country on the list. I'm even more ashamed to be publicly (well, as public as a blog is since I don't think I have much of a readership anymore) admitting it.

1 Andorra 83.5
2 Japan 81.6
3 Sweden 80.1
4 Hong Kong 79.9
5 Iceland 79.8
6 Cayman Islands 79.7
7 Canada 79.3
8 Spain 79.3
9 Australia 79.2
10 Israel 79.2

So I went and read about Andorra in the CIA's World Factbook and I think Andorra and the Caymans may not be the most legitimate entrants on this list because they probably have a large population of rich, old transplants that have moved there for tax reasons.

On a different note, I had lunch with Matt (Jigna's husband) and his coworker from Avenade Riccardo today; they were here from Seattle, on a weeklong whirlwind tour of India. They'd spent the week eating at super fancy restaurants in 5 star hotel. I'm glad I was the one to take them to a tiny little south-indian place where they ate a Thaali each (and I drank a lassi) for all of Rs. 77.

I was hoping to treat them to the lunch in exchange for a lunch treat in Seattle, but they wouldn't let me. Damn.

Random Tidbit: Check out Experience with Evaluating Human-Assisted Recovery Processes from the ROC group at Berkeley.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Pay what you like

A while ago I read something about an internet content-charging paradigm that is summarized by the phrase "pay what you think it's worth". I go read a blog entry that I think is superb, so I donate the author $1.50 for her wisdom. Then I read some piece-of-crap article and close my browser tab without a second thought.

Seems like a pretty reasonable concept. I think I read somewhere on The Long Tail (though I'm lazy to find the exact post) that a similar model could be used for all sorts of 'independent content' (think indie bands, indie movies, etc).

Here's an article about someone who tried that for a restaurant. Clearly it caused lots of anxiety for both the restauranter as well as the diners. I wonder if it was only because of the human-interaction factor, or if there were other factors involved? i.e. is there a lesson here about online settings in which this strategy wouldn't work?

Incidentally, I think it's funny that some good old desi guys headed over there and ate for free. $5 says they were Guju ;)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Environmental Sustainability

Are you (I'm assuming that someone is reading this thing) bored of country statistics yet?

Here's another one, assuming that you're not. A ranking of countries by environmental sustainability index:

Finland 73.9
Norway 73.0
Sweden 72.6
Canada 70.6
Switzerland 66.5
Uruguay 66.0
Austria 64.2
Iceland 63.9
Costa Rica 63.2
Latvia 63.0

In other news, a9 launched OpenSearch today. It got some great reviews, and some not so great reviews. I guess I agree with Greg's comments; it would have been a nice launch gesture for a9 to expose its own search in OpenSearch format. One thought I had was that I may soon need a meta-search to find the OpenSearch search add-ons that I really want.

I need to find blogs where I can read realtime reviews of O'Reilly's etech.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Quality Of Life

This is a rank of countries by the Human Development Index, compiled by the UNDP.

1 Norway
2 Iceland
3 Sweden
4 Australia
5 Netherlands
6 Belgium
United States
. ...
25 Honk Kong
26 Barbados
27 Singapore

Does anyone else see a correlation between how frikkin cold a country is and its HDI ranking? Why is it that you have to skip all the way down to like 25 before the weather gets consistently warm. Or is Hong Kong 25 because the weather is consistently warm?
If you click around on the UNDP site you should be able to find some descriptions of the index. It looks like it weighs factors like Life Expectancy, Literacy, Gross enrollment in primary/secondary/tertiary schools, and GDP per captita.

What is it about hot places that puts them low on the list? Even Australia gets kinda cold. Why aren't any tropical islands chilling (metaphorically speaking) in the top 10?

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Largest Countries

This weekend I picked up The Economist's Pocket World in Figures 2005. It's a great 2 minute diversion during the work day.
So here are the largest countries (includes freshwater):

RankCountryArea, sq km
1 Russia 17075
2 Canada 9971
3 China 9561
4 United States 9373


A coworker took me to an area of Bangalore known as Majestic. Most cities in India seem to have an area like this; it's near the main bus and/or railway station, it's super crowded, has lodges (motels) on every corner, lots of cheap eating places, and many shops specializing in gray/black market goods.

We went to these tiny stores which sell DVDs for Rs. 110 ($2) each. Most of them have somewhere between 2 and 5 movies per DVD. I picked up Finding Neverland (loved it), Road to Perdition (haven't seen it yet), and a few others.

Oh. While we were there, another customer came and asked for some 'special english movies'. He was handed a paper packet which he looked into. Then he asked the shopkeeper for his top pick among the three movies that he was apparently handed. After some discussion revolving around verifying the picture quality, he left with a DVD. Good to see that the oldest trade in the world is high tech, pirated, and flourishing.

I definitely have to go back to that area and check out all the other stuff there - imported electronics, fake perfumes, fake watches, fake shoes, etc.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

sing your heart out.

Yesterday we had a little company-party-thing and They wanted to turn it into a mini talent show so a couple of us brought guitars in and practiced for 10 minutes in the evening before singing on the roof of our office. A bunch of people sang. Birla did an awesome job getting the entire crowd to participate in his singing. Pretty amazing.

So anyways, fast forward three hours. 10pm and I was headed back home from my fiancee's place. It started raining really hard. Having lived in the colder parts of the US for a long time, I really miss warm rain and thunderstorms. I was just dying to get out of the car and run around in the rain. Rather than risk stopping in Bangalore traffic, I changed my route so that I'd go through Cubbon Park.

I found a convinient place to pull over and, wouldn't you know it, the rain had by then slowed to a drizzle. No matter; standing in the rain still felt awesome. Since I had my guitar in the car, I decided to put up the hatchback door and sit in the trunk (to prevent the guitar getting too wet) and strum and sing.

It was raining, somewhat dark (save the few streetlamps), and the only people around were the not-so-frequent caravans of cars taking a shortcut through the park. It was awesome. I just sang at the top of my voice for 30 minutes. I even had one dude stop his van and come listen to me for a few minutes and tell me how much he wanted to learn to play the guitar.

I just read about how potting plants has been the secret to someone's success. I don't have a particular, single hobby that gives me the plant-potting effect - I generally rejeuvinate either by learning to do new stuff or pursuing one of the many proverbial Trades that I am a Jack of - but I completely empathize with the sentiments.

I have never tried taking time off to pursue something different - maybe I'll try plant-potting soon...

Thursday, March 10, 2005

alien rights

I must admit I've been totally out of touch with any sort of news for a while now. Even though I now get the paper every morning - I rarely have time to actually read it.

But I just stumbled across this article that talks about how the US has withdrawn from the international protocol "that guarantees jailed foreigners the right to talk to consular officers". Wow.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Conference, day 2

Day 2 started with... well.... I'm not sure exactly how it started because we had a 'breakfast meeting' (which involved devouring the leela breakfast buffet among other, less important, things).

I got there in time for a talk on Enterprise Middleware by Prof Joshi but it was mostly text-book stuff so my attention span didn't last through the entire presentation.

I got a chance to chat with Prof. Umesh Bellur before his talk on autonomous systems. It was, again, a very cursory introduction to the topic but held my attention because I've been very involved and passionate about the space for the past year or so.

I missed the next few talks (on security) because I was:
  1. taking a nap on the grass under a tree (I haven't done that in ages! IIT has a beautiful campus
  2. getting a demo of a distributed system simulation tool that Varsha Apte is building with some students

The final talk of the day was by Werner. You can read more about that here (although the link is for a Bangalore event, the abstract of the talk is the same).

And that was it. After being bombarded by questions about jobs and what we're working on, we took off for the airport with a slight detour at a roadside bhel-puri-wallah. I frikkin passed out on the plane.

Conference, day 1

Last weekend I attended Convergence 2005
at IITB, Powai. The topic for the talk was "Computing Infrastructure
in Enterprise Networks". (Click here
for details.)

I took a 7am Jet Airways flight from Bangalore to Mumbai. Jet
Airways has some pretty awesome breakfast. I was looking forward to
eating a huge (complimentary) breakfast buffet at the Leela after
getting there but:
a) We had to dump our bags and take off right away for IIT
b) I was already kind of full from the breakfast on the plane :)

I missed the keynote, but got to hear Prof. Iyer give an overview
of enterprise networks. It was pretty interesting: he started by
looking at a single node and seeing what problems there were at the
application and administration levels. Then he talked about managing a
small cluster of nodes (e.g. a lab at IIT), followed by a cluster of
clusters (a department); etc., all the way up to looking at the public

Mr Ganguly from Intel spoke next. I don't think the talk was
extremely relevant to the topic of the conference. He basically ran us
through Intel's product line. Maybe I missed the point slightly.

During lunch I got to chat with a few students and find out what
they're working on. The particular student I spoke with was looking at
the problem of data forecasting and how, after removing the
seasonality and trend components of a time series, he believed there
are still more patterns to be derived out of the white-noise component
that's left behind.

After lunch, Prof Om Damani gave an overview to load balancing
solutions. I didn't get a chance to talk with him in detail but he's
worked at Akamai (and TJ Watson) so I'm sure he has some pretty cool
real-world experiences to share.

Mr. Manoj Chugh (President, EMC2 india) gave the next talk regarding
EMC2's storage strategy. It was a well delivered, highly entertaining
talk with a lot of vision but little content. I wish I had his public
speaking skills and presence.

Post-tea-and-samosa-break, Prof Varsha Apte was to
give a talk on Queuing Theory and capacity planning. Following a great
speaker and a tea break; being the last session of the day; and trying
to teach an auditorium full of people the intricacies of Queueing Threory is no easy
task. She did a great job motivating the need to study queueing theory
as well as giving people an intuitive understanding of the
subject. She ended with a discussion of a real-world example from AT&T
labs where she had used some queuing theory to identify bottlenecks in a

Before leaving for Bombay I had found out that Leela Bombay has a squash court. Vikas and I played an amazing and exhausting hour of squash
(I got my ass beat again though) and then cooled off in a pool for a few minutes.

The rest of the evening was spent drinking, eating, and chilling with
Werner. and Drew. I think we actually started dinner at 11:15 or something ridiculous like that so it was past 1 by the time I got to bed. 6:30am squash plans were cancelled though I made a valiant effort (I set my alarm and even got out of bed to switch it off).

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


This particular entry is about 5 months late. Before leaving Seattle, some of my buddies chipped in to buy me a yuppie accessory to my yuppie iMac; an iPod. I wasn't completely sure how much I'd use it, even though I really wanted one.

I must say that the iPod kicks butt. I pretty much don't go anywhere without it. As soon as I sit in the car, I hook it up to my car stereo (nothing fancy, just through a microphone-like input jack that my casette deck has). When I get to work, I'm listening to it. When I get home, I hook it up to my home stereo.

I've been going through and rating my songs. I have an 'unrated' list which is reverse sorted by the last time I heard a song (least recently). Whenever I listen to one of those, it either gets:
- 1 star: delete next time I sync with my mac
- 2 star: hate it but keeping it for various reasons (such as: fiancee likes song)
- 3 star: undecided
- 4/5 star: I want to listen to this when I want instant gratification from good music.

So when I'm particularly frustrated with traffic in Bangalore or work, I switch to the top rated list. The rest of the time I go through the process of rating my music.

It has definitely added to my standard of living; another humungous (and somewhat delayed) thank you to all my buddies for the wonderful gift. Now if anyone wants to send me some new music... :)

(BTW - is there a way to share iTunes song ratings and/or find new music based on those ratings?)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


I've been terrible about keeping this up-to-date. Why?
1) My parents were in town for a few weeks
2) I got (and am) super busy at work
3) I got a little depressed about b'lore.

#3 is an interesting one. I usually get a little down if I don't exercise in a long time. All it takes is a few days of going running to get my spirits up again. Well, the whole move and everything screwed up my schedule and I didn't realize that I hadn't been doing any exercise. So little things at work and in Bangalore got me depressed.

But we finally signed up for a tennis membership a few weeks ago. Since then we also started taking tennis lessons every morning from 9-10am. So my new schedule looks something like this:

7:00 : out of bed
7:30 : at work
8:45 : leave work
9:00 : tennis coaching
10:00 : gym
10:30 : shower
10:45 : breakfast (idli/sambar, kesri bhath, lassi, coffee all for about Rs. 50)
23:00 : go to bed.

I love it. The weather here is amazing. In the mornings and evenings there's a cool breeze. Around 9-10 when we play tennis, it's pretty hot and I hit the shower just drenched with sweat. I missed that a lot while living in north america.

I'm also glad to be taking tennis lessons 5 days a week though it leaves me pretty exhausted. After a few months we'll probably cut down to taking lessons only a few times a week so we'll have time left over to just play, or go running, or climbing, or something else. The tennis club (KSLTA) is bang in the middle of cubbon park (in the middle of bangalore) so it's convinient to go running or climbing.

More later.