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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

... and extending it a bit more
Just wanted to add two more things to the spam story posted earlier today -

1. Here is a link to the famous Monty Python skit that led to the birth of the term.

2. A most delightful site pointed out by Mr. Dam that lists a marvelous (and most entertaining) collection of the famous Nigerian lawyer spams.

Adios and here me goes

SPAM et etc.
Subs has launched a solo crusade against Spam. He was tired of being offered education (coz he claims he has enough of it), money (coz he claims he doesn't have enough of it), heirloom of the all famous Nigerian lawyer whose client has been repeatedly spotted in several road mishaps in the past few years. As a result Subs spent a large amount of time and downloads to finally have the menacing problem under control (according to him).

However, I am quite unbothered by my apartment-mate's dedication. I use no filter/mail-client/spam-blocking software. I largely rely on the delete button that mail clients come with. Sometimes, I even spend time reading them - trust me they can be very entertaining, specially with the contrived congeniality. Check out:

This may be our last attempt to contact you, please do not wait until it's too late. Get your application in to us before r a tes (check out the spaces put to avoid getting caught by spam-blockers) go up. Interest rates for mortgages are currently only 3.5 % Please use the short form

Yours sincerely,
Selena.


My latest favorite is when the guy starts off by saying:

I am sorry. It took me some time before I could find the application you first sent me ...

Aren't they sweet? They spent time to locate the application I did not even send. Or check out:

Dear Sir/madam;

From our records we understand that you are inquiring about a new profession. We have a limited, one time offer. Our Univsersity(check out the skillfully made spelling errors to fool the Bayesian filters) can offer you a Pre-Qualified degree.

To obtain your degree with valid transcripts Call Now.


I have never been offered a pre-qualified degree and it was so nice and kind for these people to blast me with several offers to add a much needed cookery degree to my name. I love these people.

I also feel it's time we start responding to these mails. Visit the links they send - fill out random details, or maybe mail them back sweetly showing great interest but final refusal. Even they deserve their piece of joy. We can even start giving "supplied contacts" of one spammer to another, coz I am sure that a man with a long "member" would love to have his mortgage application accepted too.

So please don't hate the spammers - loathe them.

Dee"war" Review
Finished watching Deewar this evening (nope, the movie did not stretch that long, we just saw it over two days). Overall an average fare. Father gets lost, son vows to get father back, bad guy turned good guy helps them and gets killed in the process. Oops! forgot to mention that there's also a girl in the movie but oops!, we missed her scenes coz we were blinking.

The movie had some decent moments. Milan Luthria, the director, had earlier made Kacchey Dhagey, which was a watchable "on the run" movie. So I expected this one to be good but this was nothing close to the mark. The movie plays into too many cliches and some of the moments during the escape sequence seems highly contrived (but then again I was watching a Hindi movie). On the whole I would give the film a 2* out of 5. Interestingly, the supporting cast seems like a direct lift from the Lagaan underdogs. We could spot four of them and maybe there were a few more hidden in the large star cast. Who cares and who knows.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Weekend Update - part Deux
Chatted a lot this weekend. Had two great chats with Shoumi and Swati. Saw Fahrenheit ... Went for Indian lunch and am planning to watch Deewar in some time - incidentally Gaurang Doshi, the guy who produced Deewar, earlier made Aankhen and is making Trishul next. As it turns out, all three are names of classic blockbusters. Hmmm!

Subhra pointed out this most delightful thing that deserves a mention here - check out this link. Make special notice of the still existing lines - We provide 5MB of storage free (more than any other major provider) ... I found it simply hilarious.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Weekend Part - part Ek
Well the frenzy about GMail continues. I like GMail's strategy of limited release of e-mail addresses - this way there is a certain enigma associated with the service. To dip a finger in the pool of mania and gauge the growing interest, check out this site where people have offered a range of things from photographs of Baggio (remember him) to their virginity in exchange of a GMail invite.

Why am I talking about GMail again? Well, well - this blog now belongs to the proud owner of a GMail id. Not that I am really excited about the extra 1GB space I have now - the satisfaction is derived mainly from the fact that I no longer have to ponder deeply after reading every mass mail claiming spare GMail accounts, wondering whether asking for a mail account will be a good conversation starter.

Ignorance is highly underrated !!!!

Friday, June 25, 2004

Some random news snippets that caught the eyes
  • I was shocked to read that Ali G (for those of you who don't know him you should definitely watch his show) spoke on the Harvard Class Day. Not forgetting the talent of the guy I can see why his speech has raised a few brows.

  • While the e-mail battle is still on (Hotmail plans to give 250MB from July) a relatively lesser known service Spymac is offering free 1GB space already. Sadly, nobody seems to take much notice. So maybe we are not going for the space but the glamour associated with having certain accounts.

  • Ask Jeeves has come up with a fairly interesting new idea for search engines. I have greatly admired Google for spearheading most of the cool search-based innovations but the binocular preview feature that Ask has started is pretty neat. What it does is lets the searcher preview the site without actually visiting it.

  • The final thing is hardly a news but a new term that I came across. Apparently there is a growing phenomenon called moblogging which stands for mobile-blogging. More on this shall be written later.

  • Wednesday, June 23, 2004

    For the want of jobs and more
    The Labor Department has come up with its list of 20 job areas that are likely to see a good rate of growth in numbers and pay in the coming years. You can check out the list here. Obviously this concerns me but sadly the numbers fail to spark hope in the disillusioned mind. First of all the technical job group did not find a mention in the list (let's all blame outsourcing for that) and to top it all a Japanese tech-sector expert recently predicted a stagnation of the technical industry :( and a likely deviation from Moore's Law - check this. The bright peek of light though is that the list is topped by post secondary teachers which I am likely to be qualified for post my PhD but then check out the median pay :( The mind thus rolled in a roulette wonders which slot to settle for ...

    Tuesday, June 22, 2004

    Short Story - Part Deux
    My second installment at writing this weekend - I guaranteed my apartment mate that it's gonna be just three for this week :) I realized that writing after a looong time ensures that my short stories are really short; because they are written with accompanying thoughts like - "hmm! is the egg done?", "was that a knock on the door?" or "will I ever get married?" ... So here goes the story.

    Short Story - I
    The last few days have given me a little more time to myself and instead of my normal nothings I decided to write after a loooooooooong time. Here is the first edition of my attempted musing for amusing.

    Monday, June 21, 2004

    Aan-touchables
    Keeping in tend with Sid and my current watch-a-movie-a-day policy we spent the afternoon watching Aan. The movie is a bad, albeit Indianized, rehash of De Palma's Untouchables. It took us a while (actually not till the climax) to figure out the source of inspiration (or plagiarism), not because the similarities were concealed but because we were so busy trying to figure out what was happening. Akshay played Kevin Costner, Jackie Shroff was De Niro, Sunil Shetty played Andy Garcia and Paresh Rawal we guess was the Oscar winning Sean Connery (sorry the addition of the bathroom scene missing in the original misled us). The film had oodles of blood and gore, some attempted romance which we fast forwarded (the boon of technology) and Shatrughan Sinha in speaking in the funniest of manners (ooops! we missed who his character was in the original). But then a person who spent two and a half hours watching the movie has no right to evoke mirth on the subject - or do I? Who cares and why care ...

    The mysterious e-mails
    I had decided that this blog will have no more mention of G. However, the following makes an interesting story and needs clarification. On checking the bitspilani97 yahoo group this morning I realized that G sent a mail complaining about some creep who spoofed her e-mail id. Sadly, there were chances of fingers pointing at me - and why not - I am the rowdy, social manner-less fella who faces the brunt of the allegations even before they fly off the shooting gun. So against my will to stay completely silent in matters like this I had to investigate the matter myself. A simple check of the IP address from the mail header and then following it up with an IP to geographic mapping revealed that the mail(s) were sent from Australia (I apologize to G for initially thinking that they were from Sunnyvale). Now it is some BITSian (why else will he mail the Pilani e-group) who is in Australia right now and knows Aruna (from one of the mail's content). I have no idea who that is but at least one can see it wasn't me. Anyway if anyone manages to trace down this BITSian I will be glad to know. The mystery thickens - just when we thought it was thin - and thin cases have a slim chance of getting solved.

    Sunday, June 20, 2004

    A great movie turned good turned mediocre.
    Just came back from watching Terminal. As the title suggests - the movie started on a high note, then lost its magic midway and then almost stretched it to the point of accommodating an entire sequel within itself. I don't know why it happened - some of the biggest names associated with Hollywood were attached with this venture and yet ... Ahem! Anyway there are enough reviews available for this movie and I have no intensions of adding on to the already long list. Instead, I shall focus my discussion on something that irked me slightly, specially in the latter half of the film - the stereotypical depiction of Indians. One of the major characters of the movie, a janitor played by Kumar Pallana, was shown mopping floors, talking in the standardized Indian accent and also doing juggling acts for the protagonists (which I found ludicrous). This makes me think back on some of the other appearances of Indians in mainstream Hollywood films (and no Jug Mundra does not fall in that category):

    1. Amrish Puri in Indiana Jones
    2. Om Puri in Wolf
    3. Vijay Amritraj in Octopusy (but that was a home production)
    4. The family in Matrix Revolutions
    5. The twins in the latest Harry Potter
    6. Naseeruddin Shah in LXG
    7. Sarita Choudhury in The Perfect Murder and Mississippi Masala(again I am not going to count Kama Sutra)
    8. Kumar Pallana again in Royal Tanenbaums
    9. Persis Khambatta in Star Trek
    10. Ayesha Dharkar in Start Wars II
    11. Ajay Naidu in Office Space
    12. I.S. Johar in Lawrence of Arabia (courtesy Gayatri)

    I am not counting the lots like City of Joy and Gandhi(coz it was based in India), Day After Tomorrow and the forthcoming Harold and Kumar ...

    The point is that in most of these movies the characters played by Indians were of little or no importance or strongly typecasted. That is sad. Hmmmm!

    The Honchos of the Indian Society!

    I am annoyed to the bone to see the Indian fathers of the society draw their mighty swords again. Point in case is the whole Girlfriend controversy (can you believe that CNN actually covered it). To say the least this is the biggest non-issue that I have seen a while (actually the whole Nipplegate fiasco was a worthy competitor too). In a country where we barely manage to feed half the population there are people who are investing their valuable (?) time and energy in trying to tear down a movie which ideally shouldn't have run more than ten days on its own merit. And this is not the first time - remember the heat of Fire, the splash that Water created or the whole Nathuram Godse play episode. The root to the problem is that we have way too many people who have nothing to do but bear the desire to make it to front pages of tabloids. They won't stop - they will object to a lesbian film, a channel showing nudity, a billboard showing a soap ad, the length of skirts of college students et al. The morons don't have the freakin sense to go and ensure that little children in the slums get a basic education and four meals but they have all the time in the world to create effigies of Isha Kopikar (who ?) and burn it. Are we a country so void of sanity that we have to resort to the cheapest form of gimmickry to get public attention. Please people, I think we know what is right and what is not and even if we don't I don't want a group of people who definitely don't know what is right to judge and teach me. Leave the Indian media alone - let it show/print/display whatever it wants, if enough people are appalled by these depictions time will ensure that they fade to oblivion but please people - I want to read about other things than Karan Razdan's view on the Indian orthodox when I visit TOI and don't take that pleasure away from me.

    Saturday, June 19, 2004

    Watchful Tales

    I walked into the shop with my beloved pal. It has been with me for almost ten years now. It changed colors from turquoise blue to some shady shade of green but nevertheless it did it's job - a truly time tested friend.

    The subject in question is my timeless time piece from Timex. The fact that it was earned for a once done commendable job in ICSE made it all the more special. Sadly, the other night it suddenly stopped. I tried the customary random shaking, but as it turns out the "salt container technique" was of no use. So I had to take it to the Watch Repair counter, where after an initial attempted battery change the pretty lady in the counter informed me that it was not the battered battery but something else causing the malfunction. An estimate was also given for the job in hand - a shopping $40. A "generous discount" reduced the load of the amount by a good $5 but it was still MORE THAN THE COST OF MY WATCH. Yada yada yada ... I bought a new Casio watch ... remember the time ...

    Thursday, June 17, 2004

    Enough of the incessant blabber.
    Going through the entries in this blog made me realize that most of what I write does not provide any information to anyone other than myself and if I had to write things for myself then why choose the WWW as a scratchpad? So amends have to be made. Behold! I am not claiming that this blog would become a source of profound knowledge but at the same time I will try to discuss things which are likely to be of greater significance than my usual jabber.

    To begin with I shall just begin ...

    The cause of Anger - I have been trying to figure out what angers me most - do I get angered by incidents or is it specific traits of occurrences that irk me? This made me think about some of the things which really annoy me and it will be great if the few other people reading this blog can share their causes of rage as well - let's call this section A Page for Rage.

    1. Smart Asses - they really test my patience. I have no problems with people thinking no end of themselves (actually maybe I do) but what really bothers me is when they imagine the people in front of them to be dumb.

    Interestingly, some people find me to be quite a smart ass - but what the heck - I am not saying I can't be annoying. I am jotting these reasons down not to be judged but to share a view. So if you are still judging me - add yourself to my list of rage-starters.

    2. Defeat - I am such a sore looser. It annoys me to accept that something which I have been thinking strongly about is wrong. So if you don't agree to this point I might be bloody bugged by you right now - but neither should you care and neither do I.

    3. Impatience - Often it's not an occurrence but the lengthy delay of one that makes my face turn red.

    There are several others as well but its profound to be terse. Often the acceptance of the cause for rage and thereby rationalizing it in my mind has made me cool down. So if you are reading this page ask yourself what makes you angry and try justifying these causes to yourself. If that helps you be a calmer person - cool - else what the heck - be who you are.

    Wednesday, June 16, 2004

    A bunch of movies on the way ...
    This week sees the release of three movies - Around the World in 80 days, Dodgeball and Terminal. I am planning to watch all three and am also keen in watching Saved (which had its limited release some time back). I am most keen to watch Dodgeball - this one comes from the Stiller family featuring Ben himself and wife Christine Taylor (the duo earlier appeared in the twistedly delicious Zoolander). This one looks like its likely to be an abso screwloose comedy - something that this summer hasn't seen till now. Terminal boasts of great names but I just read in Time magazine that the "buzz" surrounding the film is not too positive. Anyway, in case people are interested the movie is largely based on the life of Merhan Karimi Nasseri, who is still stranded in France. Let's just hope that things brighten for him. Somehow Around the World ... seems like its a large car with little gas that looks nice if it whiffs past you but will not be too good for a long ride - but then to a bored movie addict that doesn't matter.

    An Amazing Visual.
    The film class has made me look at things in a somewhat different manner at times; or maybe its just because I have taken the class that I am forcing myself to find these things. Whatever be the reason, this to-be-mentioned visual was cool. Last night I was about to go to the balcony when I saw the reflection of Sid sitting inside, on the glass door. I could see the bright interiors reflecting on the glass and I could see the dark outside through the glass too. My reflection was falling on the glass and through that I could see the jacuzzi outside. I suddenly realized that I could see the inside and the outside, myself and was seeing things around me through me. So much for imagery - gotta make breakfast now.

    Tuesday, June 15, 2004

    Why do I write this?
    Coz I have nothing to do
    A blank screen, vacant mind, dreams anew!

    The above lines were the beginning of some crap that I was about to jot down when Sid commented on my apparent silence throughout the day. So I decided to think about it - whether I was silent and if so why? Maybe I know - maybe I don't - till I find out let me enjoy the silence - coz it lets me hear things which otherwise get lost - the gentle sound that the swimming pool is making, because of the couple swimming in it, is mellifluous in its own right. Combined with their laughter, their happiness, the fact that they seek and find joy in each other - it's infectious.

    There is a reason Rishi volunteered to pay to see me get drunk - imagine the kind of crap that I will blabber with alcohol aiding the process - maybe that itself is reason good enough to refrain from the medium.

    Begun it Has - the war of the E-mailers.
    Yahoo has given a major challenge to the Gmail phenomenon (which is still dormant). The day began with Yahoo raising its mail storages by a considerable amount - the major implication of this being that I don't have to periodically delete my mails to meet the 5MB quota. However, my guess is that MSN, which has almost as many users as Yahoo, will follow suit soon. This brings us to an interesting question - how much email space will ensure that Yahoo users will remain faithful and not leave their primary email addresses. Right now Yahoo is offering 100MB and Google plans to offer 1GB. Though Google is offering ten times the benefit, I feel, Yahoo has acted fast enough to secure most of it's users (add to Yahoo and MSN's advantage the fact that their ids are coupled with popular messenger services). Reminds me of a scene from Entrapment, where after a heated discussion on the sharing percentages of the bounty, Sean Connery asks the whoaaaa! looking Zeta-Jones - "what can 8 billion dollars get you that six billion can't (the actual numbers might have been different)?"

    However, past experiences have tough me never to under-estimate the computing needs of people. People buy RAMs as big as what I once thought was a good enough hard disk space. So we still haven't seen the end of the e-mail battle - I feel even the start is yet to come ... may the force be with the company that benefits us most :)

    Sunday, June 13, 2004

    Weekend Update
    Well this weekend was hectic so I will present my weekend activities in a point-wise(or maybe dumb) fashion:

  • Drove for nearly 250 miles. Me and Sid drove all the way down to Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. It was awesome fun and we had a range of experiences on the road including - broken down car, lost in a place of lost-in-translation, mis/dis-placed tickets, taxi-trouble etc. etc. etc.

  • Normally I will refrain from mentioning my academic matters here (except for my occasional mention of a tiring day of research). However, I managed to get 100 in my Financial Investment finals and that deserves mention not for the vanity factor but because I probably made 100 in an exam after a zillion years (nope: in spite of what people say - a 99 in Mathematics in ISC is not the same as a 100).

  • Went and saw Chronicles of Riddick - its OK if you don't expect anything from the movie and watch it in the late night show as we did.
  • Did a bunch of shopping for Indian food - special mention must be made of the fact that I have finally managed to purchase raw paneer - yes paneer and Not cottage cheese.

    So long and so on ...

  • Friday, June 11, 2004

    A sudden communication. Just now got a mail from one of the most unexpected sources - DJ from college. I never thought DJ and I will ever chat but it was great chatting with him. He's gone back to India.

    I realized that time changes a lot of things - people, and the way they think and react. I am very different from what I used to be 3 years back. Some people like that - others hate it - it's the same way I behave towards others too. Also this is something we all know and have faced - its just that I wanted to mention it. I feel almost delirious and ecstatic at the same time - weird - but then that's how I have always been :)

    Thursday, June 10, 2004

    Mr. Ganguly's Hero. I had this great teacher in school called Mr. Ganguly (I hear he is a film maker now). He once said that in all our minds we have an alter ego who is a super hero. So every time someone insults you and you have to stay quiet, in your mind the "super hero you" takes revenge in an utterly delightful fashion. Every time I got kicked hard in the soccer field my alter ego would imagine himself to be a strong player who would get up to the occasion and kick some butt along with the ball. It's been almost ten years since Mr. Ganguly told me about this and today I remember it again - and why? Well, well who cares and why care?

    Tuesday, June 08, 2004

    Uma to the rescue. The day was spent in finishing up my film project (the demo is tomorrow) and research experiments. Uma helped me a phenomenal amount by lending her voice for the film and in spite of the geographical limitations it really made the film look cooler. Rakesh specially liked this part of the film. I have to mention that Moviemaker was pretty cool and provided pretty much all I needed except for the multiple layers of audio. That's something Premiere provides and I needed it badly - however it's in times like these that the inventive mind comes into play. A bad hack to the above problem is to convert the audio and video into a single movie file and then add the extra layer of audio to it. The process takes much longer to get done but the results are quite satisfying. I was watching the making of Shrek and they said that the actors never spoke together in a studio and all the scenes were recorded separately. This inspired me to record this entire dialogue sequence where both my characters recorded their parts separately (without having any idea what the other person was saying) and the sound effects were recorded separately too. The end result was pretty cool but I am sure I am biased towards the film. One of these days I will make it online for all to judge and rebuke. Till then cheerio.

    Monday, June 07, 2004

    Tired ...zzz. I am really tired now - add sleepy too that. The whole day was spent in completing my take home final and giving final touches to my film. That's what brings me to the topic of G. I have decided that this will be my last entry in this blog about G - I tried calling her a zillion times tonight to record three lines for the film but she just refused to pick up the phone. Well well, if this is how she wants things to be, I can't help much. Have already found a fix to the problem - a friend of mine has graciously agreed to provide her voice for the dubbing - cool. What else - a decent sketch is going on in the Jay Leno show now - will hit the bed pretty soon and hopefully not wake up early like I have been doing the past few days. Zzzzzz ... zzzzz !

    Hate
    With every passing day
    She hates me more!
    With every passing day
    Her despise doth grow!
    With every passing day,
    My image in her mind
    Erases to oblivion.

    Is there nothing we can do now
    For the things we once had done?
    Can we not tread the path
    Of the memories we shun?
    Can we not choose the thorns
    But choose the rose so red?
    Can we not forget the days
    That we both so do dread ... ?

    Sunday, June 06, 2004

    Sunday blues ... at least a shade of it. The weekend was fairly productive - a bunch of research related stuff and some work on my Financial Investment's final kept me busy. Swam quite a bit and (over)indulged my gastronomic urges. The result being a dash of Indian, Thai and Chinese edibles over the weekend.

    Went for Chinese food to the eco(nomically)-friendly Peking Palace and just after a dinner well eaten G's thought struck me :( The past year saw G and me frequenting the Palace almost every other week. Now with the queen gone, I visit the palace merely as a commoner, solely in the search of food. Alas! Phew!

    The walk back brought back lots of memories - memories which brought a smile but made me weak too - phew!

    Saturday, June 05, 2004

    Yo Potter yo ... A ticket bought three hours in advance, standing in a queue for an hour and some of the lousiest previews later the third chapter of Pottermania began and in the words of George Costanza "yada, yada, yada" and the movie was Hola. Really neat! Truly enjoyable! What makes a great book a great movie is when the director adds something which the author hadn't - and this movie is full of many such small touches giving the painting the maestro's touch. Too bad they are changing the director for the fourth film. To sum it up - if you were contemplating whether to watch this movie or not - my 2 pense says - go for it.

    Thursday, June 03, 2004

    Poem again - miserable me :(

    The last few drops of water pour
    Before its dry again.
    The droplets echo in your head
    Ringing in your brain.

    While the water gushed and flowed
    It oft did soothe your mind,
    Whether hot or chilly cold
    The flow did ease your grind.

    You see those droplets easing out.
    You never want them gone.
    You know there are other flows around
    But you thought this was the one.

    Just one more time you want your lips
    To touch that delicate stream.
    Close your eyes and feel the calm,
    Engrave it in your dream.

    You thought the water would drown you
    But now you are miserable and dry.
    You want the trickle back again
    But all you can do is Try ...

    Potter's on his way ... Was chatting with Shoumi this morning and the new Potter movie made its way into the conversation. Most of the reviews are awesome. It doesn't matter - even if they had compared it to Kung Pow (which currently ranks very highly (lowly?) amongst the worst movies I have seen in recent times) I would have tied to catch it first day.

    More on the wiz(ard)-kid - the new movie raked in 5 million pounds on its opening day in UK (the highest ever). Alfonso Cuaron, who directed this one, is not making the 4th movie, which has Mike Newell (of Four Weddings ... fame) at the helm of matters.

    I remember Rishi and I had to scout around for theatres when the second film came out and that we had finally managed to catch it on the first day itself (incidentally Wenjing had treated us that night for the acceptance of her first publication). We had gone to Soup Plantation for dinner that evening - hmmm! gotta visit that place again - its been a while since I went there.

    After a day's work ... Hmmm! A lot of work was done today. Finally Barbara and I managed to get the first set of experiments on PlanetLab running - that's all the mention my work will get here for now.

    Saw a lot of rough cuts in my film class - a few of them were extremely inventive. Specially liked the one where a guy had mixed the "interaction with a psychiatrist" and a bunch of radio sounds - sweet.

    Have been wondering a lot about what we look forward in a successful film - a highly discussed issue with almost no conclusive answer. My 22 cents on the issue is that we largely like two categories of movies - one which make us feel "Aah! That Is me ..." and the other where we feel "Aah! Wish that was me ...".

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