*** MOVED ***

NOTE: I have merged the contents of this blog with my web-site. I will not be updating this blog any more.



A couple of holidays declared in the middle of last week afforded one of those rare opportunities where you apply for just three days' leave and end up with a nine-day vacation. We spent most of this vacation on the beautiful island of Mauritius. Clean beaches with white sand next to a turquoise-blue sea - what more does one need for a perfect vacation? Nothing much, it turns out.


Just Books

A few years ago, I had complained about the lack of a well-stocked and accessible library in Bangalore. To a certain extent this complaint has been addressed since by the quick rise of Just Books in the city. Just Books has a rapidly-growing chain of lending libraries here in Bangalore (and in some other cities in India). The collection of books is decent enough and the lending-rates fair enough for this to be an attractive option for most book-lovers in the city.


Monitor Woes

I decided to finally replace the ageing CRT monitor of my desktop PC, after having repeatedly put it off over the last few years. This CRT monitor, a 17" Samsung Samtron 75E, had served me remarkably well for over 11 years. When its display started to blur and intermittently turn yellow (cured by a hard whack on its side), despite a couple of repairs that seemed to initially fix the issues, I knew it was time to say good-bye to it. Since it is nearly impossible to buy a CRT monitor these days, I set out to buy an LCD monitor. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be an affordable LCD monitor good enough to replace my old CRT monitor and I had to ultimately settle for a less-than-perfect replacement LCD monitor.


Year-End Breaks

Towards the end of the year 2010, Anusha and I went for a couple of day-trips to places near Bangalore. The first trip was to Balmuri and Yedmuri falls, along with a visit to Brindavan Gardens. The second trip was to Belur and Haalebidu along with Shravanabelagola. While we drove to the former set of destinations ourselves, we opted for a KSTDC bus-tour for the latter.


On The 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi

The 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi (CWG) has thankfully ended, that too on a high note - the games went fairly well on the whole and India came second in the overall medals tally thanks to a gold-medal-winning match on the last day by Saina Nehwal. It was a big relief, coming as it did after revelations of shocking mismanagement, massive corruption and utter callousness of the concerned officials, which were threatening to derail the games and bring shame to India.


Protecting Your Privacy on Linux

Some times you need to protect your documents containing sensitive information from prying eyes. Simply enforcing access-control on a document (e.g. "chmod 600 foobar") is not enough in such cases as it can still be read by those with super-user access or with physical access to your storage media (e.g. when your laptop gets stolen or you misplace your backup media). It is also ineffective when you use on-line back-up solutions like SkyDrive, Google Docs or Dropbox. Fortunately Linux provides several tools to help you here depending on your needs.


ICFP Programming Contest 2010

As has become customary for me, I participated in the annual ICFP programming contest this weekend. I participated as a lone coder this time with the team name "rmathew". The contest this year was irritating and frustrating, not to mention quite humbling (as usual).


On Watching Films

Like many people, I like watching films for entertainment. Unfortunately for me, it seems that the film industry is hell-bent on making this as difficult as possible. They have succeeded to a large extent - I now watch far fewer films than I used to a little over a decade ago.


Spawner in the Works

I have started using Firefox 3.6 and it does feel a little faster than its predecessor, though it's definitely not as snappy as Chrome. I should note that this is how Firefox 3.0 and 3.5 also felt at the time of their release, only to not feel that fast as time wore on and we received successive security and stability updates. I wonder why.


Underwater Blues

The New York Times now encourages you to walk away if you have an "underwater mortgage" on a house, that is, you owe more money on the mortgage for the house than its value in the current housing market. I find such analysis based on the negative equity of a house somewhat puzzling. It might make sense if you have bought a house purely for investment, but not if you call it a home that provides you protection against the elements. If you give up your house, you still have to find an alternative accommodation and very likely pay rent for it.