Computing, Libraries, Tennis, India & other interests of Vikas Kamat
|Buy a Calendar, Educate a Child|| |
| Buy a Calendar, Educate a Child|
Don't have a year 2002 calendar yet? Buy the Asha for Education calendar featuring some of Kamat's photographs.
(The proceeds directly go to development of children's programs)
War Clouds Still Dark and Heavy
"There is no difference between terrorists and governments that harbor terrorists"-- President Bush, September 11
Rediff: Pakistan not to handover terrorists -- Pakistani President Musharaf
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Wednesday, January 02, 2002|
Last Modified: 1/29/2003
|99.9 Uptime|| |
| What 99.9% Uptime Really Means|
It has become fashionable to claim over 99.9% reliability, especially
in the Microsoft camp. Web hosting companies, application servers, database
servers, why, even Microsoft and friends (Compaq, Dell) have been touting
this number as if it's a big deal.
99.9% uptime amounts to 8.766 hours of downtime a year. With an average reboot of Windows NT/2000
servers taking 5 minutes, this amounts to 525 unscheduled reboots per year,
which amounts to over 10 per week -- more than once a day! Holy cow!!
Derived from Competing with Linux
FYI: I run both Unix and NT for different tasks.
The old Kamat.com server running Unix (BSD) never needed a reboot in 14 months of its use.
The new Kamat.com server running Linux since November of 2001 has not been down even for a second.
So, achieving 99.9% uptime with Microsoft Windows is very easy. Just reboot the server, about twice a day.
Unix Vs. NT (in the context of a Web application)
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Friday, January 04, 2002|
Last Modified: 1/4/2002
|Suicides in India || |
| Suicides in India - Some Notes|
Mahesh Shantaram, a blogger from India writes about his rules for euthanasia.
I am leaning towards a stance for death with dignity (politically correct name for assisted suicide),
but I find that someone else making up the rules of death (like tape recording
the procedure ?!) very repulsive. Isn't self-determination the crux of this debate?
India perhaps has the longest history of assisted suicides. Described as Ichha-Marana or desired death, it is mentioned in ancient Indian epics such as Mahabharata. We have the cases of both men (Bhishma) and women (Madri) undergo desired deaths.
The Sallekhana, Sati, and Johar systems were essentially suicide mechanisms
in ancient (and not so ancient) India.
The Sallekhana was practiced by devout Jains by fasting and meditation, and the
participants starving to death. The most famous person to undergo Sallekhana
was the queen mother Machikabbe.
The Sati (a.k.a. Suttee) was the system in which a window committed suicide on the funeral pyre
of her husband, believing in (or forced into) an eternal marriage.
The Johar occured when the women of a town preferred death to dishonor
and committed suicide in large numbers after a war.
Attempt to Commit Suicide
Indian buses tend to be extremely crowded, and it is common to
overload the buses.
Once I was going to school like that and was arrested by the police (that's
India for you; instead of improving the public transportation system, the government
harasses the citizens.) I asked on what grounds the police were arresting
us as we had been issued valid tickets by the government operated bus service. The
inspector told us that we were being arrested for "Attempt to Commit Suicide"!!
It was then that I learnt that attempt to commit suicide
was a crime in India. (For record, I wasn't attempting anything, except going to school. We were let go with a warning and a demand of a bribe, but that's not the point...)
Since the days of Gandhi, Fast-unto-death protests have become common in India, where the activist in an non-violent protest goes on an hunger strike till his/her demands are met. I wonder if those qualify as attempts to commit suicide.
Indian Suicide Links
The Sati (Suttee) System of Suicide
Death by Demand in Indian Culture
Sati or Not? --a thought proving (and perhaps disturbing) article by S.S. Kshatriy on Sulekha.com
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Saturday, January 05, 2002|
Last Modified: 1/24/2003
|Flash is 100% Bad|| |
| Macromedia Flash|
Idea Generator Vs. Jacob Neilson
Jacob Neilson: Flash: 99% Bad
My $0.02: Flash is 100% bad for Web. Don't do it.
Macromedia Flash is a cool technology. I know and use Flash for business, but oppose
creation of Flash content for the web for the following reasons.
Requires a plug-in. If you are going to install software on the client's machine,
may I recommend Microsoft Windows native applications (also known as fat-clients)?
Anybody who recommends creation of Flash applications has not developed complex
software, and does not understand the software life-cycle. Maintaining
and changing a Flash project incrementally is extremely painful or not possible.
Short life-span of content created with Flash.
Save Your Eyes
To save the strain on your eyes follow these two steps, and your eyes will thank me for rest of your life.
- On MSIE, go to Tools Internet Options Advanced Multimedia and uncheck the Play Animations checkbox, and then Click on OK.
- Click on your Windows Start button, Search Search Files or Folders and type swflash32.ocx and click on Search Now. If the system finds the file, just delete it. If you have trouble, close the browser and delete it.
By taking these two simple steps you will get rid of all the annoying flashing (and Flash) banners.
If the choice is between your eyes and stupid, meaningless, commerical animations, which one would you chose?
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Monday, January 07, 2002|
Last Modified: 1/29/2003
|India-Israel Nexus|| |
| India and Israel Shitting with one Anus|
During my college years (1984-88) in India, there were a large
number of Palestinian students who came to India
for education. The Palestinian Intifada was at its peak then,
and India was one of the few places the Palestinians could
get education. I had sympathized with the P.L.O. then as I do now.
India was one of the few supporters of the Palestinian cause, by
not recognizing the nation of Israel and by voting against the
Israeli occupation in each of the UN resolutions.
A lot has happened since. Arafat has made new friends (and forgot
the old ones), India has established diplomatic relations with Israel, The
PLO has (supposedly) given up its armed fight,
and Indians emigrated to the USA in large numbers, establishing new
friendships & relationships between Jews and Hindus.
This week, Shimon Peres the Israeli statesman
travels to New Delhi to forge a deeper military and economic alliance. Both countries
are threatened by Islamic neighbors, and internal terrorism, although IMHO the context of the terrorism is completely different.
There are many areas where the two countries can work together. Computer software,
irrigation, urban development, and anti-terrorism come to my mind. India can also
show Israel how Muslims and non-Muslims can indeed live together.
Pakistan, and the Arab league of nations have a lot to be concerned about this
new shift of power. Israel has demanded inclusion of India
in UN Security council, and even in NATO (yes. NATO! Gee!!). Israel is selling military technology to India, and many Indians are entering into business aliances with the Israelis.
I sincerely welcome the new developments. But the Indian leadership has to
assure its Muslim citizens that India's long held values for the self-determination
of Palestinians are not being compromized.
This is a great opportunity for India
to play an elder statesman in the world politics leveraging its (once upon a time)
close ties with PLO as well as the new found friendship. Even a move towards peace in the Middle-East
will be a stepping stone for peace in the sub-continent.
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Tuesday, January 08, 2002|
Last Modified: 1/29/2003
|Review of Chang|| |
| Siam of 1927 and India of 1977|
In 1976-77 my father temporarily closed down his business,
and packed his bags to study and live with the tribals of Madhya Pradesh for
a whole year. Upon his return he would narrate stories of the tribals,
their hardships, joys, and ways of life. He showed his photographs, line-drawings
and artifacts (bows, arrows, masks) to enhance his stories. He went on to
write several books about the simple, yet thrilling lifestyles of the native
forest people of Central India.
But it was not until today, that I could visualize that lifestyle in such
brilliant detail. Today I saw the 1927 film Chang by Merian Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack
(yes, the same guys who made King Kong) of life as God intended it to be.
The slow pace, the earthly music, cohabitation of men and animals just
took my breath away.
It is a silent, black and white movie and you might not enjoy
it as much as I do. However, if you have liked father's Stories of
Bastar travel or have a remote interest in the anthropology, I encourage
you to rent/buy the movie.
The movie is set in Thailand (Siam),
but I claim that it portrays life no different than life of the period (why, even of year 1977) in India.
More Pictures of Boys Riding Animals in India
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Thursday, January 10, 2002|
Last Modified: 1/29/2003
|When did we get so smart?|| |
| Suddenly We Weren't So Stupid Anymore|
It has long been believed (mostly by Western scientists) that the early man lived like
an animal -- without tools and without abstract thinking.
According to these scientists, the humans living in Europe, one day having learnt to manage fire,
and use stone and bone tools, weren't so stupid anymore. This transformation, called
"creative explosion" has been in vogue for sometime.
I completely reject this sudden intelligence theory.
In the 1960s and 70s, many Indian archeologists (among them, Dr. V.S. Wakankar)
found prehistoric art and artifacts in central India, dating much far back.
Some of which have been showcased at Kamat's Potpourri.
These discoveries never got the publicity nor the encouragement they deserved,
the Government operated institutions of India being infested with corruption
and credit mongering. (Read Kamat's Interview with Wakankar, KalaRanga, Manohar Grintha Mala, 1982)
Turns out that humans were smart, much before they reached Europe!
New discoveries (link to new discovery at NPR website) have been made that Homo sapiens were smart even 77,000 years ago, much before any White Man's Civilization.
Pre-historic rock paintings of Bhimbetaka.
Cave of Chauvet Pont d'Arc -- prehistoric cave paintings of France.
Mid Day: Tribute to Chintaman Raghunath Vyas by Prakash Burde.
(For those who don't know, music critic Prakash Burde is my uncle)
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Friday, January 11, 2002|
Last Modified: 1/29/2003
|Vivekananda's Birthday|| |
| Remembering a Great Swamiji|
139 Years Ago Today: Swami Vivekananda was born.
Swami Vivekananda (Biography at Ramakrishna Mission Website) is but the most famous of Hindu monks from India, and has had a profound influence on the practisioners of an ancient religion. A born leader, and a great philosopher, he explained the deep meanings of the Vedanta teachings to the commoners.
To mark the occasion, my mother has been invited to give a talk on Josephine McLeod, a follower/friend of Swami Vivekananda at the Ramakrishna mission, Bangalore, India. The lecture is open to the public.
Gods and Godmen of India
List of Hindu Gods and Goddesses
Sadhus & Swamis: The Holy Men of India
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Saturday, January 12, 2002|
Last Modified: 1/29/2003
|Waiting for Robin Moor|| |
| India-Pakistan: Waiting for Robin Moor|
As I blog this, over a million troops have been amassed on the sensitive
Indo-Pak border. India has laid down the measurable criteria
for avoidance of war, which Pakistan has rejected. So one
wonders what is the next move.
Flashback to 1941. The World War II has broken out.
The Western Europe is begging USA to participate, but
President Roosevelt just cannot enter the war unilaterally. The
situation is very fluid. The Allied forces are praying
for just one mistake on the part of Germans (to attack
anything American), so America can join the war.
I see the same scenario in the subcontinent now.
India is just waiting for another terrorist attack
to declare the offensive. The situation is very fluid.
Musharaf knows this very well. Why else do you think
he is reversing twenty years of Pakistani policies?
A war will certainly leave him out of power.
The question is, how long will India wait for such
a such a trigger? What if it never happens?
FYI, on May 21, 1941 Hiter did provide FDR the
incentive to join WWII by sinking Robin Moor.
All of us know what happened since.
BBC: Racist Aussie Cries Foul --
Top seeded Lleyton Hewitt (who uttered racial commenets during last years' US Open, which he won) exits in
the first round of Australian Open. But not quietly.
Tennis Tip: If you have a problem getting your raquet in position during the serve, try this trick --imagine that the raquet is a telephone you are trying to answer and take your clenched fist towards the ear.
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Tuesday, January 15, 2002|
Last Modified: 1/29/2003
|Kamat via Satellite || |
| News and Ideas|
Kamat's Potpourri now available on WorldSpace Satellite Network in India.
Over 150 new pictures added to Kamat House of Pictures.
New Business Idea: I think I'd like to start a Auditing the Auditors Company.
It is badly needed. Just look at the practices of Arthur Andersen.
Heard on Rumor Mill: Due to management problems, ZDNet might close down
its India Website.
Northern Light is no longer free.
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Wednesday, January 16, 2002|
Last Modified: 3/29/2003
|Programmer's Disease|| |
| How I Fought the Programmer's Disease|
The Programmer's disease occurs by excessive use of the computer
keyboard and the mouse. It is also referred to as CTS (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) and RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) in the medical community.
In 1999 I started experiencing acute pain in my right hand (I'm right handed). I didn't know about RSI then, and sought physical therapy, which provided temporary help. In year 2000, a fellow programmer suggested that I switch my mouse-clicking hand. It was difficult initially, but the body learns sooner than you think. The pain subsided, and now I have become ambidextrous!
Switching the Clicking Hand Cures RSI
To to prevent RSI
(Thanks to Susan Hammack for the tips)
Stretch and massage your hands
Perform activities with hands that are opposite to the repeatitive strain -- like weight lifting, raquet sports etc.,
Distribute the work to other parts of the body -- use alternate fingers and limbs.
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Friday, January 18, 2002|
Last Modified: 3/15/2002
|Schools of the Jungle|| |
The Schools of the Jungle
Students are teachers here, and teachers, students.
There's free sex, dance, and music.
Equality, simplicity, and freedom form the fundamental fabric
of this education system.
Welcome to the Ghotuls.
New at Kamats
Nosy Surfer, a tool that reports the search terms of other surfers is back.
Over 250 new pictures scanned and added to the House of Pictures.
Hiryoung (my wife that is, she is a mathematician in her heart, and by education) has a brilliant idea for content management -- Allow the content processing rules to be nested. (The current implementation of Kamat Content Crowbot only processes linear rules.) I tried to do the same by allowing multiples passes (let first pass create a rule, and second pass process it), but nesting, the way by which a compiler
handles the semantics of a computer program is superior. This idea comes just in time for the rewrite of the program. We are debating whether to write it in Java or C#...
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Monday, January 21, 2002|
Last Modified: 1/29/2003
|Libraries, Knowledge, and Freedom|| |
| Random Notes on Libraries, Knowledge, and Freedom|
I have had a long romance with the libraries. In the rural town of Honavar
(map - topics -
in India where I grew up, there was a library ("Ravindra Vachanalaya") in the attic of a temple, where
my friend Gopalkrishna Bhat and I had read each and every book by the time we
were in the fourth grade! (that was in year 1977. In today's Honavar there is
not even one library, although the population has multiplied several times
over. What a shame.). The various public libraries in
Karnataka were a good place to go and read Cricket analysis, and job opportunities,
but they were never awe inspiring.
Libraries are a luxury in India, and my parents have had to build a
collection on their own for their research work.
My first culture shock after coming to America was when I entered the
Noble Library at the Arizona State University. I'd never seen
anything quite like it!
It was not just the size of the library and the number of books; it
was the quiet surroundings, the incredible collection of maps and periodicals; the
lack of red tape; the services (from photocopying, to database searches,
to inter-library-loans, to personal computing facilities). I spent
a lot of time in the libraries of ASU and UAB, and ignored my studies.
Many people point to the Brooklyn Bridge, The Golden Gate Bridge, and (what was) WTC as the
symbols of American greatness and might. I must point to the
Public Libraries spread all over of America to describe
why America is a great nation.
As I immerse myself in the admiration of American Libraries, often
I am reminded of Tagore's Where knowledge is free song
we used to sing in RSS, that was supposed to be the Song of India.
In the year 2000, at the invitation of the Directorate of Public
Libraries, I had an opportunity to address some of the librarians
in Bangalore and I realized the conditions under which they
have had to operate -- general lack of funds, too much Government interference,
lack of patronage from citizens, and general apathy towards libraries in India.
Problems facing Libraries in India -- topic of a future blog.
Tomorrow: Things You Didn't Know About Libraries
American Library Association
The Biggest Library of 'em all
A Site for the Proposed Kamat Library
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Thursday, January 24, 2002|
Last Modified: 1/23/2003
|Learn Your Library|| |
| Things You Do Not Know About Your Library|
(Rather, things I didn't know about the libraries)
- A monograph is really a book.
- What we call as journals, the librarians refer to as titles.
- Books are sold upon their publication, whereas the periodicals are sold
before their publication.
- Most libraries have bigger annual budgets for periodicals than for books.
- Libraries pay a different (typically higher) price for aquisitions
than individuals and departments would, for the same item.
- The library business is dominated by a few large and influential
companies (no wonder startups like ebrary
have a hard time competing).
- The best way to support a library is to use it (Library visitations are on a
sharp decline all over the world).
- The librarians (altruists), are in a constant battle with the publishers
(capitalists) to represent the best interests of the the knowledge-seekers.
- The shopping list of libraries (this is especially true of corporate libraries)
is a closely guarded secret, because it reveals the focus of research
activity in the organization
Update Jan 13, 2003 -- Karen Gorss Benko, a catalog librarian writes that Video and Sound recordings are also referred to as monographs. Thank you Karen!
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Friday, January 25, 2002|
Last Modified: 3/30/2003
|On Indira Gandhi|| |
What I Really Think About Indira Gandhi
A researcher asked me (via email) what I really
thought of Indira Gandhi. The summary of my answer:
I am proud of Indira Gandhi (no relation to Mahatma Gandhi) for holding India together,
for winning the 1971 war against USA-blessed Pakistan.
I blame Indira Gandhi, for her abuse of power and democracy, for
her lack of vision, for sacrificing the nation's interests
for the benefit of her coterie, and for playing immoral (and bloody)
politics against the Sikhs.
I just cannot deny her important role in forming of
20th Century India. Neither can I deny that she died
while serving the nation, and hence deserves the reverence
of a martyr.
Indira Gandhi -- by Vinay Lal
(update) Speaking of Indira Gandhi...
Today is India's Republic Day
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Saturday, January 26, 2002|
Last Modified: 1/23/2003
|PeTA and the Circus|| |
| PeTA and the Circus|
I went to the annual
this week, and was greeted by the protestors, who apparently have been asking to boycott the circus, as it is unethical.
I concede that circuses are rough on the animals, but I say to PeTA what I say to the pro-lifers. (I am both pro-life and pro-ethical-treatment of animals) "If you are against the circus, don't go. But don't stop me."
Apparently they are upset at the treatment given to the elephants at the circus.
Why only elephants I ask.
What about the animals in the zoo? and what about the cats and dogs in the households? How's that different?
BTW, See Also:
The Indian Elephants - Table of Contents
Kamat's (Real and Imaginary) Animals
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Sunday, January 27, 2002|
Last Modified: 1/29/2003
|Memories of Indira|| |
| Speaking of Indira Gandhi|
The other day, I blogged about Indira Gandhi, and it brought
to my mind a montage of childhood memories.
It was summer of 1976, and I was barely nine years old.
Indira Gandhi had suspended the constitution of India and
had assumed dictatorial powers.
She had banned the RSS, and saying anything against
the Government or Indira Gandhi landed people in jail without trial.
One day some of us boys got up early in the wee hours and
wandered the dark streets of the town writing anti-Indira graffiti.
"Down with the Dictator" we wrote, and "Damn the Bitch". I was
careful not to deface people's homes, but apparently
some others weren't so diligent. After vandalizing the entire town, we went to wash
our charcoal soaked hands in a waterfall just outside of town.
By the time we returned, it was school time and everybody everywhere was
reading our propaganda. It was great. I felt like the
heroes of India I had idolized, who had fought to banish the British.
But when I went home, there was a big "Indira Gandhi is a Whore"
written on our wall! My uncles were very angry and upset. I was told to
wash the sign with soap before my uncles and I got arrested. I just
remember that the darn thing won't come off!
Subsequent to this incident, many people in my town were
arrested. I personally know of two people who were
kept in prison for a whole year without trial, because
they opposed the programs of Indira Gandhi.
I believe the year was 1977. By now Indira was the self-proclaimed
Amma (motherly figure) of India, and she
came to our town of Honavar for campaigning for the election. The whole of Honavar and
neighboring towns showed up. It was no small event.
We waited like hours and hours for the helicopter to land. It was
my first time seeing an aircraft, and I believe so was for the other
30,000 who had gathered. Indira Gandhi was taken to an open stage
that had been erected for the occasion where she spoke for a few
minutes. But the crowd did not move from the helipad, all of
them had come to see the helicopter!
As she left, some in the audience started shouting the slogans "Indira
Hatao, Indri Bachao" (Avoid Indira and save your genitals!). See,
in the name of family planning, Indira and her evil son Sanjay Gandhi
had forced many poor people to undergo vasectomies, under their
20+5 Point Programme.
A Piece of History
In a stunning display of resiliency of Indian
democracy, Indira and her son Sanjay were defeated in that election,
by candidates who were still in prison. Indira's Congress Party lost power, and a new political force, the Janata Party, emerged. But the weakening of opposition Indira Gandhi had engineered was to have a far damaging impact on the nation, resulting in successive governments that were weak and unstable.
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Tuesday, January 29, 2002|
Last Modified: 11/27/2003
Tags: desitale, honavar
|Brahmin Boy and Village Pimp|| |
| Friendship of Brahmin Boy and the Pimp|
Yesterday I wrote about how Indira Gandhi
kept the members of the opposition in jail without trial
during the dark days of Emergency in India.
One such leader, a family friend, was kept in the police-station/jail of our town.
The food that was provided by the jail-contractor was horrible
and my family talked the officials into us providing meals to this political detainee.
For eight months in 1976-77 I hand-carried lunch and dinner
for this gentleman. Here's a picture of me of that period, so
you can imagine.
I do not think visiting jail everyday at such a young age
has had any negative impact on me. On the contrary, I
developed a broad sense of the legal system and its abuse.
Even today, I am more guided by what is right and wrong,
rather than what is legal.
"Men make legal systems. But there are higher powers
that rule the destiny of men and nations" -- Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Anyway, back to the story.
During my daily visits, I became friends with the food-contractor Mr. Bhatta*
who seemed like a religious man with his fresh namas and
a soft personality. Everyday, he would ask -"What's for dinner today?"
and reply -"No change in my menu!" We would greet each other even when we met outside of the police-station.
Sometime after this, one day (after Indira Gandhi lost power, and after her own arrest), some boys and girls wanted to play games in a spacious yard with lots of mango trees, that we had never played before. I knocked the door of the house to ask, and Bhatta answered. He gladly allowed us to play. We played to our hearts content, till it became dark.
There was a furor in the town the next day. Apparently
Bhatta was the town pimp, and everybody was shocked that
brahmin children -- some of them teenaged girls, would play in the proximity of ill repute.
Hey, we didn't know!!
* Name altered to protect identity
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Wednesday, January 30, 2002|
Last Modified: 11/27/2003
Tags: honavar, desitale
|This is how I surf the web. Turns out
creating your own start page beats all portals, back-flipping,
personalized corporate pages, and book-marking tools.