Andrew Morton’s NOT coming to India!

It seems there’ve been a lot of calls that people are getting that are claiming Andrew Morton and Theodore Ts’o are coming to India to deliver talks on the kernel. Sponsors seem to be Novell, NetApp and some other companies.

Well, I confirmed with Andrew that this is a hoax. He’s not touring India, definitely not on the 24th of July, when these presentations are supposed to happen.

Things that made me skeptical of these: no talk anywhere on any of the forums, news sites. The caller couldn’t pronounce Theodore, Robert Love and Nat, Miguel aren’t on the talkers list even though Novell is sponsoring, she kept pestering for any friends that might be interested / in the same industry as I am in, and she kept asking me repeatedly how much industry experience I have.

Turns out, I was talking to Atul in Pune, and he received similar calls. Same agenda, same speakers, same date, just the location was Pune instead of Bangalore. Nice trick these people have come with to lure people into giving out phone numbers.

Rahul‘s suggested one nice solution to dealing with these people: sound very interested in whatever they’re offering, ask them to hold for 5 mins citing “someone’s at the door”, get back, sound very interested again, repeat.

Cool idea, give me a call, someone! I’m looking for low loan interest rates!

Oops!

Atul refers to a blog entry where Magesh describes how taxi drivers swindle people of their monies. Be careful, it’s a bad, bad world out there!

That reminds me of the enterprising Bangalore rickshaw men: there’s a rule here that mandates passengers to pay 1.5 times the normal charge for auto rickshaws after 10 (or is it 10:30) PM and before 6:30 AM. However, these guys start asking for 1.5 times the charge (or Rs. 10-20 extra on the fare) from 9PM. Hmm, when you start arguing, they’ll just quip, “Sir, you work in software companies and earn lots. What would such small change hurt you?” Grrreat! And when I lose my temper, I don’t speak much. Just give the person a cold, chilling stare and walk my way. No use arguing with the drivers, and least of all, when the argument’s such a lowly one.

openMosix internals documentation

I was just browsing around aimlessly when I stumbled upon the openMosix HOWTO. Hmm, I’ve not been involved with openMosix for quite some time now, but I thought of giving it a look. And I’m surprised to see that intro to hacking openMosix still quotes my mail!

There’s also another FAQ there, which ports does openMosix use for communication so that firewalls are configured properly.

The promised code documentation was written, but I have it tucked somewhere in my backups. May be I’ll rake it up when I get my home machine running.

Moving your bike between states in India

I got my bike (a Suzuki Fiero) to Bangalore some 2 months back. My dad sent it via train and sent the receipts here by courier. I expected the bike to arrive in Bangalore some 5 days after it was sent; so me and Lokesh, my colleague, went to the railway station to get it. It helped immensely that Lokesh knew exactly where cargo is unloaded and where we will find the bike. However, it wasn’t to be found in the rooms at the rail station, so we set out on all the platforms (around 8 of them) to check if it was just unloaded off a train. No luck there either. Around 30 mins of roaming across the entire Bangalore station in the hot sun isn’t what we were expecting when we started, but at least we didn’t have to deal with unhelpful officers anywhere. We asked a porter to inform us when the bike was unloaded and we then set off.

The next day I received a call from the porter saying the bike had arrived. Being a Saturday, I was in no mood to go and collect it before the offices closed (which was half to one hour later), inspite of being in office. (This was the first and last time I was at office on a Saturday).

The following Monday, Lokesh and I again went to the office and found the bike there. I had to pay some money to get it off, which was strange. However, I at least got a bill for that. Paid some money to the porter, got it cleaned, found out they had damaged the fuel pipe, some petrol was wasted before I switched off the cork again. A long trudge again to find some garage, and dragging the bike in the hot sun isn’t fun.

Garage found, new pipe installed, we set out happily back to the office. Great, no further incidences.

However, the road tax has to be paid for the state of Karnataka if you’re going to be riding the bike for > 1 month. So I went to the Indiranagar RTO, where I collected a couple of forms (printed in Kannada), which were to be filled. The officers weren’t particularly unhelpful, so that helped not lower my spirits.

The officer to whom I was supposed to submit this form directed me to a copy stuck on a cupboard facing him where the English translation of the form. After quickly filling it and shelling out Rs. 1500 (approx), I got my tax receipt. I don’t know what happens to the similar amount of money I spent for the Road tax in Maharashtra; I don’t know if I’ll get that back.

The registration number has to be changed, it seems, if you’re going to be riding in Karnataka beyond a year. That, however, needs an NOC from the Maharashtra RTO, which takes a lot of time and money. I’ve not got that done yet.

If you’re planning to get your bike to a different state from where it’s registered, get the road tax filed at least. Especially in Bangalore, since there are traffic policemen at every corner, and they spring up when you least expect them. They also check for your breath late nights (especially on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) to make sure there aren’t drunk people driving out there.

And with around 5 robberies reported every week on the streets of Bangalore, the policemen have set up barricades all across the town and checking for all sorts of papers related to the bikes and cars. Non-Karnataka registered vehicles of course are a prime target. Good to spend some money in paying the taxes rather than wasting time and money later on.

Raikkonen, finally!

Kimi Raikkonen finally won it for team McLaren Mercedes at Barcelona yesterday. He beat Alonso in number 2 by a whopping 25s. Says a lot about the package Kimi got. Was very good to see such a convincing victory for McLaren after a long time. Was at the Forum mall with Vikram to catch the action live. (Surprising the forum guys don’t have a website.) Renault’s doing well, but the Toyotas and the Williams also came good yesterday. Ferrari were out of points, with Schumacher rolling out on a flat tyre… Bridgestones not up to the mark this season, adding to their start-of-season woes.

There was a hint of McLaren coming back with a bang at Imola, but for the driveshaft problem, Kimi had to retire. He led the Spanish track yesterday right from the start and didn’t look in trouble for a minute. Reminded me of some of Mika Hakkinen’s drives. Classic stuff!

Deception Point, Digital Fortress

It’s been almost a month that I’ve read Deception Point by Dan Brown. This one is his 2nd novel. A very fast-paced gripping adventure + thriller. Nicely woven story around NASA and the White House. However, I could guess every twist and turn in the book (against a couple in the DVC), but in the usual Dan Brown style, it has a lot of information about other stuff, like the way NASA works, sealife, asteroids, etc, that you don’t just get to read a thriller; you also get to know about things related to the plot. This is what I’ve started liking about DB’s novels.

Most of my book-reading happens on weekends, and I usually end up finishing one novel / book the same weekend. However, I couldn’t get enough time to read this book on a weekend, so it actually took a lot of sessions across a week to finish this book. I actually looked forward to finishing it, a very good read.

Digital Fortress is DB’s first novel. It mostly deals with cryptography and breaking codes. Since most of the material was already known to me, this one wasn’t as entertaining as the other novels. Also, I could guess all of the twists / turns the book has to offer, so it was like just reading through a very predictive novel that didn’t also add to my knowledge. Skip it if you already know about ciphers and cryptography. The fun part about this novel was probably the code given at the end of the book to be cracked. Which I did after spending some time on it. Clues below.

!Spoiler Warning: The series of numbers initally looked like page numbers, so I was trying out arranging the first words on those page numbers mentioned, but no luck with that. Then I tried by using the first letter on the page; again it was meaningless. I then thought that those pages could have some “theme”, which could be used and break the code. However, on relooking at the numbers, they seemed to be confined between a certain min and max… which looked a lot like chapter numbers. Rest was easy to put in place.