Saturday, December 22, 2012

Summary of the Proprietary Stunt

You might have read that stunt and wondered what happened... It turns out I got busy enough to skip writing.

So here it is.
I spent one month using Windows 7 with as many proprietary programs as possible. My experience:
  • DRM-enabled things like YouTube paying movies work so much better. +1 For proprietary.
  • For music playing, Windows Media Player isn't too awesome. It doesn't support the formats well, nor the tags in the music files for sorting them. On the other hand, every serious media player on Linux does these things super well. +1 for open source
  • I had one BSOD in Windows. In Linux, it depends on the distribution and the software I use. Still, +1 for proprietary.
  • User-friendliness of Excel was not very good with the separator thing, LO wins on that. +1 open source.
  • Both WMP and the default video player handled the videos I wanted cleanly, so that's a draw.
  • Keyboard layout switching worked good on both, so that's a draw.
  • Weather widget is not as good as on Linux. +1 open source.
  • HP Print setup is confusing and contradictory - I wasted a lot of ink on that. +2 open source.
The bottom line: stability was greater on my hardware on Windows than on Linux. The quality of the rest of the software was worse, however.
Had I got a not-cheapo laptop, the stability benefits would've probably not even be seen. 
Then, I spent a few days on Windows 8. That experience was traumatizing. It was 10x worse than the switch from Gnome 2 to Gnome 3.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Eega is sort of a crazy hero movie. The hero becomes a murderous fly after being killed by the villain. The whole movie is about how he's trying to make that happen.

On the good size, it is very decent and has a lot less violence than most Telugu movies. It is still very violent.

The animation is cheapo at times, and makes you feel that they cut a lot a lot of corners.

You can skip that one.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Where to turn in Linux?

There used to be a time that getting Linux on a system was simple. Just put Ubuntu on it, or XUbuntu if it is an older system. Done.

Not anymore, and I'm getting fed up of rebuilding my laptop...

I can't go for Ubuntu and Ubuntu-based distros (like Mint) because of some weird kernel issues.
I had issues with Fedora's 3.5 kernels, and taking in consideration that bug report above, it feels like any recent kernel is gonna go bad on me.
I've been using Linux Mint Debian Edition, and they're forgetting to update Firefox and Thunderbird despite security vulnerabilities. Plus, the HPLIP offered is half-broken.
UPDATE: I spoke on IRC with LMDE devs who are automating their infrastructure to test the new packages faster so that updates don't have to wait so much in the future.

I don't want to use GNOME because of a nasty CPU-hogging bug.
I don't want to use XFCE because of lame multimedia key support and buggy handling of keyboard layouts.

Of course, there are sort-of solutions to the above problems, but I'm tired. I want a distro that has good support for codecs and a great out of the box experience. I don't want to use super outdated software. And I don't want to be installing updates every other day. In other words, something I could use with someone who discover linux as well as a geek.

Of the big distros, only openSUSE is left, but it doesn't have the multimedia codecs. So, time to go for a bit arcane.

  • PeppermintOS, Ultimate Edition, and PinguyOS are Ubuntu-based. So kernel problems are expected.
  • MEPIS is based on Debian Stable. There is a way to be a bit less outdated though, but that doesn't sound too awesome (but maybe worth trying)
  • PCLinuxOS is an interesting contender. I installed it in a VM and it reminds me of the old Red Hat Linux of yore, before it split between Red Hat and Fedora distributions. Its lack of a brainless package updater is the only thing I see against it right now. Somehow, it installed the 32-bit version, which I'm not sure I'm happy with.
  • Fuduntu is another interesting contender. It is GNOME 2, but otherwise the software looks up-to-date and the GUI is sleek. I am running it in a VM and it looks like the choice of packages is limited. And beesu is driving me nuts asking my password every time.
  • Kororaa is Fedora-based, but a decent option. UPDATE: Installed in a VM, there were a lot of updates to put there. It looks very cutting edge - Kernel 3.6.1, KDE, 4.9.2. Makes me think of Sabayon.
  • Zorin OS is officially based off Ubuntu, but it looks like they are much more cutting edge. A lot of things are looking good, but that's a GNOME distro so...
  • Sabayon feels beyond cutting edge. It makes me almost uncomfortable.
  • Mageia sort-of has all the codecs installed... you need to enable another repo. It could be too much to ask for new users though. UPDATE: I installed in a VM and it won't start a GUI. FAIL!
  • UPDATE: Crunchbang is based on Debian Stable, but has a backported version that is more up-to-date. But am I gonna get the same problems as Ubuntu, as the version is nearly same? Anyways, I installed it in a VM, and I have to say that I wouldn't recommend the interface to a newbie. It does have a wizard (text-based) to install the stuff you'd want, but I want it already there. Its interface is everything but user friendly. I would probably like it, but wouldn't vouch for my wife though...
  • UPDATE: I didn't mention Fusion because, frankly, the Web site is confusing/wrong... Is Fusion 16 stable? Is the latest stable is 14? Why is it the link to it is telling me to download 16? I am not getting the feeling that this is maintained much, and so I didn't bother.
So, where do I turn to? What is the right distro to use?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Nexus 7 Woes

So I purchased a Google Nexus 7 with the hope that it would be the perfect device for my wife. I didn't have  big requirements:

  • Google Video Chat support
  • Skype support
  • Ability to watch Flash videos
  • Emails, calendar, simple games
The reviews were good, the price was good, so I went for it.

My conclusion: Nexus 7 has very uneven quality. Some people have a fantastic experience, others hate it.
Personally, here is what got me annoyed:
  • The video chat and Skype keeps on getting stuck shortly after the chat starts. Switching to a PC to chat with the exact same person works fine though.
  • The microphone doesn't pick up sounds well, and so the person I am chatting with keeps on not hearing.
  • Sometimes the Flash video gets in a weird state, and it stops responding to user input - no more switching to full screen and the like. I have to kill Firefox for it to work again
  • The micro-usb cable provided wasn't glued well, and the protective plastic on the micro side is sliding off. It doesn't look like a shock hazard yet, but if it is, Google is gonna get a big big lawsuit on the southern side of the border for sure.
  • There is no way I can send an email for support. Google allows you to get a phone call back, but I'd rather not have to wait on the phone forever and a day.
Dear readers, what can I do for my tablet to fulfill its function? And yes, I'm beyond 15 days, so returning is not an option.

The Quest of the perfect Linux desktop - continued

In a virtual machines, I installed distros known for more stability. Here is what I think about them:

  • Debian Stable: it feels like my Ubuntu experience of 2010 or 2009...
  • Linux Mint Debian Edition: I am liking it. It is based on Debian Testing, so the packages are not super-outdated. The flash player and the MP3 support is built-in, which makes it easy to set up. I did have a rough time when they pushed TeXLive 2012, and the update wasn't going through. This is not the first time I had problems updating my LaTeX installation. I had similar troubles with Ubuntu and Fedora, so I'm not going to count that against them too much.
  • openSuse: Oh man! Just trying to set up my printer is a nightmare! You're not allowed to tell me that a package is missing and not help me install it. That's just dumb dumb dumb.
  • Scientific Linux: This is a port of RedHat which I thought would be interesting. No dice, it wouldn't boot after I installed it in the VM.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Indian IPTV In Canada

So, you're an NRI and you want your favorite channels.

If you're Punjabi, its not so hard to get what you want, you can get it on CBC.

So, first, the typical TV service providers.
You can get some on Bell Fibe TV, and its mostly Hindi though. But oh boy does it cost a ton!
Videotron has nothing. Move on.
Cogeco has only one channel.

So maybe we can get some independent distributor, with their own hardware?
There is Roku, but you don't know which channels are there before you buy, except for unofficial lists.
VuNow has news channels only. You can probably get that from the 'net anyway.
Colba.Net is having French and English only.

So it looks like you'll have to stick to your computer or rig it to play on your TV. Fun.

One first contender is TeluguOne. Not bad, but it looks like to got shut down.
Then, YuppTV. Also a bit expensive. And the HD should work only in Windows. Not cool.
JingleTV is there, but doesn't have Indian channels.
NextTv is meh.
JumpTV likewise.

So, it is YuppTV for the time being, but I'm not 'sold' yet.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

You call this user-friendly???

If you want to open a CSV in Excel 2010, for which the file delimiter is not a comma, what do you do?

Of course, you change a system-wide setting! I never knew that LibreOffice could beat Office on usability so easily...

Monday, September 17, 2012

More Updates on the Proprietary Stunt

Its been more than two weeks...

  • The printing dialog I get has an easy save to PDF option that I enjoy.
  • Still no crashes
  • I had one instance where typing on my external USB keyboard wasn't working well - some keys went through, but others didn't. I fixed that by unplugging it and plugging it back in.
  • There is a high memory usage and some trashing -grr.
  • Installing the Sametime client - 275 megs! For a chat client!!! I can probably have a minimalist live CD of Linux that has a whole GUI, etc. for that much.
  • I am having an horrible time for my research. Somehow, getting Soot to build in the git bash I have requires a Turing Award - and my brain will never be big enough to get one
  • Copying a big batch of files from my college system doesn't work so well - so rsync to the rescue. But  that is tied with the next problem
  • I can't get a good caching of my SSH keys. It sorta works for git, but other SSH operations just don't work with the agent or something.
  • The HP scanner software doesn't keep the cropping from one page to the other. And it scans in color by default, and then tosses out the color data, making the scan slower. Pretty lame actually. Simple Scan does that better.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Quest for the perfect Linux Desktop - continued

So I continued trying to look for the perfect Linux Desktop.

Remember that I've been having stability issues with Fedora 17, Ubuntu 12.04, Mint 12 and Mint 13.

I heard good things about openSuse, so I put that in a Virtual Machine. I quickly got a 'yuck' feeling... I was prompted for the admin password to put a CD in. In this case, it was the VirtualBox Guest Additions (or somesuch). What a bad out-of-the-box experience! I shouldn't need an admin password for this!!! Then, having to put a password for every package install. Yuck!

Everywhere on the 'net, people boasted of the stability of Debian and RedHat/CentOS/Scientific Linux. Those don't come across as being very user-friendly, but what to do...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Trying to be a normal user - update

Here are some observations:

  • The wizard for Windows 7 takes forever and a day
  • There wasn't too much garbage to remove on my Gateway system. That's good news
  • So many things are missing, and it takes forever to install them. In a way, I felt that the out-of-box experience was worse than Mint.
  • So, download the HP drivers, download JDK, download Keepass, etc.

Update on my Windows Stunt

So its almost two weeks I've been using Windows 7.

Here are the pros:

  • No crashes
  • Office is handling my OpenDocument Format files properly so far
  • Skype and Google Video Chat work flawlessly
And there are a few annoyances:
  • Default scanning application won't save as PDFs .Huhh??? So its HP's software all the way.
  • Google Chrome won't load one of my sites ( properly. Huuuh?
  • Its annoying to have to hunt for the application you need
  • Spybot and Windows Defender don't mix it seems. Yuck.
  • Virtual PC won't let me install a Linux ISO on it... weeeird. Is it the stretchable partition?
  • Live Mail won't send using my college's SMTP server, but it was working in Thunderbird. Duuuuude.
  • Google Chrome won't pick up the Java plugin and an extra install is required. Wut?
  • No built-in support for Ogg... come on!!! Its not like there is a license fee to pay! At least the plug-in was free.
  • No default bittorrent client. Sigh
  • I tried using IntelliJ, but the git support wasn't good, so back to NetBeans.
  • The proprietary LaTeX editors were worse than TexMaker, so back to the good stuff.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Trying to be a 'Normal User'

Recently, I had to apply for QPIP, and I discovered that I had to do this on Windows. Grrrr.

So, thankfully, I didn't delete that Windows partition and got the job done. So I decided to go on a stunt. Could I try to be a 'normal user'? I brushed that aside and went back to Linux. I switched from Fedora to Mint, in the hope that a less cutting edge distro would fare better. Wrong.
I toyed with the idea again and, two freezes later, I decided to embark on the journey.

So, what does that mean?

  • For the next month, I'm going to use Windows 7 as much as possible
  • I will avoid any FLOSS software as much as possible to get the job done, but will stick with 0$ software options
  • I will use the default software installed and their defaults as much as possible, but I give myself the right to remove some garbage (like Norton and free games)
  • I will _not_ install garbage. In that regard, I may not be like the most average user
  • I will interact with Linux systems and my research will go on. That means still some free software in the form of LaTeX and ssh access and the like. But I will try to use proprietary-like variants of the common open software.
  • I may work a bit on LibreOffice. I can't stop being a member of that foundation :)

Monday, August 27, 2012


Maya is a tale, but meant to convey a dark reality.
One, that there is an horrible tradition of child rape practised in India, and that its practice continued despite being illegal.

This movie will not give you any happy feelings. If anything, it shows how one little girl's spirit is grinded bit by bit before a crushing blow finishes the job.

The backdrop is a portrait of rural India, with all of its beauty and all of its horror.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

On Becoming a Daddy

So, it is official, I am a daddy.

It has been a year that we've been thinking about it and 9 months preparing it. It has been two days of contractions to a happy ending.

And then trying to do everything right, even though you, and everybody else knows, that you have no idea what you're doing.

Of course, the government book rocks (really, they should sell it everywhere in the world, with local updates), the midwives of the Maison Bleue are awesome, the government's health info line is good at filling the gap when the latter are done for the day, our neighbour is as supportive as she can, and the regular food delivery from our fellow disciples of Christ help us save some energy. And I'm super grateful for all of that help.

But I'm really really grateful to God who helped us in all this - in the way my wife got the governement health coverage a few days before the delivery, in the way the delivery went from "we might need an emergency section" to "the baby is coming out", and in the way that I was filled with pure joy when that little girl was born. It was months that I had been waiting for her.

Now, my life is all about doing shhh, rocking her gently, changing diapers, filling forms, and updating the waiting lists on the CPEs we registered her, etc. I am so glad for the QPIP that allows me to take some time off without guilt.

Marriage is beautiful, parenting is sweet. Enjoy both :)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Canadian Citizenship test

The Globe and Mail has reported how much people are failing at the new citizenship test.

My first reaction is 'Man, these guys should just study'. Then I decided to try it out.

I am a Canadian citizen and I was a good student in the history class (which also detailed the constitution and the power structures), and I barely passed.

Of course, I didn't study before doing it. But, still, I can tell that some questions are just trick questions. Like 'what are the 3 parts of Parliament?'

Anyone who studied well should pass this exam, for sure. The book is given for free to all newcomers and is only 50-odd pages.

But I don't know how many people are able to 'study well' if they have screaming children at home and have a level 2 or 3 French or English competency...

I was thinking... should we have a test in the first place? I know many immigrants are are not making much efforts to really 'get into' our culture. The problem is that we can't rate effort easily. A test is a shortcut for that, but a bad one. The same applies for all forms of learning, whether it is in college or whatever.

I think one of the better kinds of test would be to have more down-to-earth questions. e.g. "Your landlord increases the rent by 10%. Is he allowed to? If not, what do you do about it?" Answer: Go to the Régie du Logement.
The bottom line is that most Canadians need not care about constitutional matters. And those who do will know and learn accordingly.

I'd like you to take a shot at the citizenship test online and put a comment on how well you do. It will be informal, but interesting.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Misteur Vallaire

After some weeks listening to it, I finally decided: its a keeper.

Misteur Vallaire is a rising band from the province of Quebec and their music is... something else.

They have 3 CDs on the net that you can sample as you wish, with a pay-as-you-want scheme. You have to give them extra credit for "getting it".

But that doesn't matter if the music isn't good, right?

Overall, some of the electronic beats really stick and I recommend listening to the last two studio albums. Their first album is way too weird for me. But you have to be on your guard for weird things here and there. So you can't "just listen" to an album, but a tailored playlist is in order.

My favorite songs (Ave Mucho, November Number 3) are in the Golden Bombay album, in collaboration with other artists. I also like Gordon Bombay from the middle until the end.

As a sidenote, it is the one that has the least weird things in it. They've got some real potential and deserve to stay in your playlist and your radar.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Bogdan Ota

Bogdan Ota is a Romanian musician and composer that was moving office equipment for a job in Norway until he went for a talent show.

Now, he's signed by a major label and working on his first album. Enjoy some of his compositions.

I see some promise, but I'll wait for the album to really pronounce myself. Having 10 good songs is much harder than 2.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Veer Zaara

Veer Zaara is an Indian movie where an IAF pilot falls in love with a Pakistani girl who travels to India max 3 days. She also falls in love with him, but has an arranged marriage to some guy in Lahore. So she calls for him, and he resigns his job and goes to Lahore for her.

The suitor is not too pleased about that, and he arranges to make him arrested under the charge of spying.

It is an OK movie to spend the evening. I find it annoying that people make a movie where half of the action is in Pakistan and yet will have only Indian movie stars in it.

Open Goldberg Variations

I have tried to donate 1$ to the Open Goldberg Variations' kickstarter project way back when, only to discover that my Indian Visa debit card doesn't work too well on the Internet. Having failed to support it financially, I am trying to support it by a humble review.

You know that I am no music scholar, only a guy who likes good music. My leanings are with the Baroque style, with a liking for chamber orchestrae doing powerful music.

The Goldberg Variations are Baroque, and they are powerful music done by a single piano (some meant for two, but let us steer from semantics). They are 30 variations over the same tune (plus an extra one at the end), and they are no small task for a pianist to interpret. Now, an important thing to note here is that they are written in such a way that the musician has a large leeway to express their own style through Bach's score.

You know that I love Bach for some of his awe-inspiring Organ compositions, and very fine chamber orchestra compositions - the most famous being the Brandenburg Concertos. I would say that his compositions for piano and harpsichord have gone a bit under my radar. And I am glad that the Open Goldberg Variations came to point that out to me.

Despite being an important work in classical music, there was no freely available score and recording available, so Robert Douglass decided to change that. The consequence is that this recording is set to become the de facto yardstick for an interpretation of the work in our collective mind.

But it may become a yardstick for a better reason. Musically speaking, Kimiko Ishizaka does a great job to bring Bach's composition to life. This is a high-quality recording of a very good pianist playing well on a very good piano. What do I mean by that? Well, it is a studio recording, so you won't hear a guy coughing. Also, the execution is perfect - what you expect from the pros - with no missed notes and the like. But that's the baseline, right? What makes this special in any way?

That answer does not have words. It is a je ne sais quoi, a 'soul' to the interpretation that gives it some 'hmp'. It is the 'thing' that will distinguish the really good musicians from the truckloads of technically sound yet interchangeable musicians whose name you will only see mentioned on the programmes of the orchestras because they have to. You can see an example of that contrast in automatically generated music: Variation 10 generated vs. Ishizaka's rendering.

I especially enjoy the 3rd and 8th variations, maybe because of my bias in favour of higher tempo parts of the Baroque repertoire in general. The 10th variation makes me feel like stopping whatever I am doing and just listen to it. Variation 15 brought me a feeling of melancholy out of the blue. I felt the joy in the start of the 22nd variation and it brought me a smile. Only real music does that to people.

You can -and should- enjoy them right here right now:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I feel like wearing a red square

The little red square is the symbol of the student movement in Quebec. And, in case you haven't been following the news, there's been 100 days of student striking because of a fee hike.

At first, my reaction was "those Liberal Arts fellows are up to their usual antics" and I just ignored it. It kept on popping in the newspapers, and I would hear about a march every now and then, the usual.

I even felt that the way the students were denying access to universities and colleges in defiance of court orders was appalling, and was even thinking of wearing a green square, symbol of the students who support the fee hikes.

I liked that the student unions were protesting not only against the tuition fee hike, but also about wasteful university management. As a tax payer, I am always annoyed by the rampant mis-management of my money by a lot of government bodies, and the kind of blank cheque the government gives to universities (most of which are private non-profits in this province). Millions of dollars and no accountability... what could go wrong?

As I saw the government ignore the student demands, then bargain in bad faith, I started getting more and more angry. And as a draconian anti-protest law was voted urgently last Friday, I really got angry. Even the Bar association is calling the law unconstitutional, and they don't often speak up on legislation.

I am irritated that the premier and his ministers are so out of touch with reality that they just want to ignore the largest student movement in the history of the province and not try to compromise. This kind of arrogance will be paid very dearly in the upcoming polls.

Can I see potential for abuse? Oh ya. The police could just put agent provocateurs in the crowd, break a window, and get the whole march declared illegal, and then fine all the people in there. Or maybe they can use their power to change the march itinerary to change it while it is happening, and then declare it illegal and fine people. I am sure your imagination can come up with more scenarios for abuse.

What am I gonna do about it? I can't join a march because I don't want to be involved with the anarchists who break windows. The new law makes it nearly illegal to be in one of those marches, even if there are no anarchists. In theory, you could be fined thousands of dollars if you just get too close to a university building or if you deviate one step from the itinerary given to the police.

So, I signed the petition against the new law, and I'm blogging, asking you to also sign that petition.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Salaam Namaste

Salaam Namaste is a nice Bollywood movie about two NRIs in Australia who 'fall in love', their decision to move in together as roomates, eventually as lovers, and then as ennemies.

We don't see the topic of premarital sex and cohabitation often in Indian movies. Just for that, this movie deserves to be watched. Just try to close your eyes and ears in the scenes of the Indian-turned-Australian-Hillbilly landlord that make no sense at all.

The Census of Quirinus

As part of the usual in-depth study I am doing on the Gospel of Matthew, I tacked the question of the Census of Quirinus, which is considered an apparent contradiction between Luke and Matthew.

My study Bible wasn't helping much, nor the commentaries I saw. The summary was "well, maybe it was some other appointment he had before being Legate of Syria".

Thankfully, a friend gave me this detailed article, which establishes very clearly that imperial census orders were not rare in those days, and it was very likely that Quirinus had a de-facto administrative resonsibility in Syria near the time of Herod's death.

If you ever had this intellectual struggle, I urge you to have a read at this article!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Radical New Music

If you know me, you know that I like "old" music, especially the Baroque kind.

I don't often find much interest in contemporary musicians. I guess that one factor is that I see them performing the same songs in the same way, so it can be hard to notice.

Then a friend sent me a link about a video of The Piano Guys and I was blown away by the celloist. I listened to their music and I became an instant fan.

I think that the piece that really highlights my fascination is this one.

I have no deep knowledge of music, mind you, but I am not ignoramus either. I saw someone play the cello like I never saw it played before. It was not only enjoyable to listen to, but even addictive. Steven Sharp Nelson is bringing his instrument to a whole new level and may even spark a new wave of innovative sounds coming from instruments we would have never expected.

If you happen to know more sound like this, please please please give me the links.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Linux Mint Cinnamon FAIL

In my never-ending quest for the perfect Linux desktop, I tried Mint LXDE, which had some serious keyboard shortcut shortcomings, and Mint Cinnamon, which has serious GUI bugs.

At first, Cinnamon looked like the right thing for me. The start button does its magic, it is responsive, and all the key bindings that I am expecting are there. Problem solved no?

Well, not really. There were a lot of times that the screen contents got garbled, or I saw black squares, when a lot of I/O was happening. And I recently had the whole desktop environment dying on me, but with the windows still there. It was weeeeeeeeeeird.

Anyways, this is really not ready for prime time yet. I switched to the MGSE desktop, an improved version of the default Gnome 3 shell, and I like it so far. It does take a whole lot more memory, of course, which makes it a no-no for my friends' older systems, but may be good enough for me for a while.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fedora, Mint, and thequest for the besk Linux desktop

So, I had a recent rant about Fedora, and how it ends up being very anti-user-friendly.

I decided to try something else, which I had been hearing about a lot, Mint. I decided to try with the LXDE interface, because I like my desktop to take little memory and be responsive.

My criteria for success were as follows, with comments:
  • Keyboard layouts should be easy to configure and switch from. Result: FAIL. I need to open a text file to add a layout. Switching is easy to add though.
  • Buttons should be mapped out of the box. Result: FAIL. The volume doesn't unmute. grrr. Some other buttons don't do anything too.
  • Widgets are easy to install. Weather widget is a must. Result: OK. There is no default option in LXDE, but Mint offers indicator-weather as an easy download. Other widgets are available and are set up painlessly.
  • Memory and CPU usage should be low. Result: WOOT!
  • Desktop should be responsive. Result: WOOT!
  • It should be easy to launch an application using only the keyboard. Result: FAIL. The launcher isn't on the foreground by default. One needs to modify a text file once again.
  • It should be easy to configure my printer/scanner. Result: SUCCESS
  • It should be easy to configure my wifi. Result: SUCCESS
  • It should be easy to play every kind of multimedia under the sun. Result: SUCCESS
  • Battery life should be good.
As of now, I decided to try Cinnamon as my default desktop for some time. I can report key bindings that just work, and a responsive desktop, so that is a step forward.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fedora Usability FAIL

What happens when a harcore Linux geek liberates two systems for non-geek use?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

On Santoku Blades

I recently decided to spend a bit of money on a cooking item. Granted, it was on sale...

And so I invested in a Santoku kitchen knife.
The bottom line: get one of those! It works so much better than the cheap dollar store knife, and it does most of the jobs in the kitchen well!

Monday, February 20, 2012

BabyPlus - How Science can be created on demand

Recently, I have stumbled on the mega-claims of something called BabyPlus, which is a glorified MP3 player for pregnant women to put on their bellies, with the objective of stimulating the child's brain development.

Sounds great. That inventor must be a real genius too... right? Er, not quite. The only Brent Logan who wrote a PhD thesis I could look up did so in 2001, much after this invention.

So I googled a bit more, and what do I find? A full debunk. A good read.
The killer thing for me? Double-citing both the paper published a the conference and the conference presentation itself. It doesn't get sloppier than this.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Agneepath is the remake of the 1990 movie of the same name, a major hit starring Amitabh Bachchan.
This one is starring Hrithik Roshan and won't be the major hit this time. I seriously felt we could chop the cheapo love story and another 30 minutes of the movie and we'd be better off.
The first half is great, and the machiavelic plot of the main character is engaging. But it falls flat at some point, probably around the point that the villain discovers the hero has a sister, etc. Sort of a gaping gap in the story that just distracts.

Oh, and for those of us who don't know Hinduism much, the title refers to a mantra (recited in the movie). It means 'the path of fire', and it means destroying evil.
And if you don't know the Ramayana at all, I suggest you do your crasher course before seeing it, maybe watching "Sita Sings the Blues"

On Being a Sunday School Teacher

I haven't updated for a while... sorry about that.

I was asked to help with the kid's class at church (known as Sunday School for some, or KKC for others), and I'm helping with older kids.

And oh boy!

I NEVER thought that taking care of 6 kids would be hard. Spending so much time on discipline is mind-blowing.

"Stop playing with the scissors and listen to your friend talking"
"If you're nice, you can draw something"
"Everybody else has finished, and you're not done yet... Can you please focus?"
"Who understands this passage? So, who was listening? So who will read it again?"

And so on and so forth.

I knew God would use this experience to teach me something. I am not sure what that is, but I'm sure it involves not loosing my sanity. ;)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ye Maya Chesave

Ye Maya Chesave is the first Indian movie I really enjoyed in a while. I really recommend it.

It is a realistic Indian love story. Boy likes girl, girl won't give the time of the day to the boy, boy harasses the girl until her defences break down, relationship form, and deepens, and family interferes.

The actors acted well, the songs are really good (thanks, A.R. Rahman!), and the story is 'real'. Oh, and an added touch of realism: when they are in Kerala, many people talk in Malayalam, and they put Telugu subtitles. Sweet!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Searching with YaCy

YaCy is an interesting open source project, and I decided to give it a spin.

In the age of rising internet censorship, having an uncensorable search network is very attractive.

The installation is pretty simple, but would benefit from being added to Fedora's packages.

The results are still pretty slim, and the presentation may need an upgrade, but it sorta works. I think I'll keep using it as my default search engine for some time.

Oh, and it is easy to add it Firefox's search bar.