Saturday, September 02, 2006

Mallu Communists FINALLY get something right...

It must take something momentous to update this *ugh* blog and it is! Mallu communists who I despaired of EVER doing anything right have finally done it. Only Linux in schools from now on :-)

Read on here:

Kerala logs Microsoft out of schools

George Iype in Kochi

The Communist Party of India (Marxists)-led government in Kerala headed by Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan is not just against American cola majors -- Coca-Cola and PepsiCo -- alone.

Nearly three weeks after the Achuthanandan government banned the sale and manufacture of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo products in Kerala, Microsoft has been logged out of the state-run schools.

Here on, nearly 1.5 million students in the 2,650 government and government-aided high schools in the state will no longer use the Windows platform for computer education. Instead, they have switched over to the free GNU/Linux software.

"We have decided that we will use only free software for computer education in Kerala schools. We have implemented the Linux platform in high schools; it will be implemented in other schools step by step," Kerala Education Minister M A Baby told

He said an estimated 56,000 teachers in high schools are getting trained on the Linux platform.

Asked if it is a deliberate decision to log out Microsoft from the state-run schools, the minister said, the plan is not targetted at any IT company. "Our policy is to migrate computer education to free software platforms. We want to make Kerala the FOSS (Free and Open Software Systems) destination in India. That is all," he added.

But officials said two factors have influenced the Communist government to go in for the Linux platform by abandoning the Microsoft product.

First, Chief Minister Achuthanandan has been a votary of free software. While in Opposition till May this year, Achuthanandan had sternly opposed the then Congress government's decision to join hands with Microsoft to launch the IT@School programme.

Second, free software guru Richard Stallman is virtually the consultant to the Kerala government's IT initiatives. Two weeks, back Stallman visited the state and convinced the government to switch over to free software systems in the educational institutions to begin with.

Stallman, in fact, gave a presentation as to how free software has been an exciting education and computing model in a Spanish province.

Officials say political parties in Kerala have been using the Microsoft versus Linux issue to settle scores. "The Congress government had launched an IT literacy project with the support of Intel and Microsoft. Now the Communist government has abandoned it, and wants to migrate everything to free software platforms," an official at the Kerala IT Mission Secretariat pointed out.

While in Opposition, Achuthanandan had strongly opposed the project saying the agreement between the Kerala government and the Microsoft for training teachers under the IT@School project was fraught with danger.

"Microsoft boss Bill Gates wants to push his operating system using the services of software developers who had adopted it and this was made clear by several experts in the field. The government should, therefore, be very careful when dealing with Microsoft," Achuthanandan had then written to the government headed by Congress chief minister A K Antony.

Political issues apart, the Linux PC dealers are excited about the government decision to promote Linux platforms in schools.

"We are getting lots of enquiries and orders for pre-loaded Linux operating system. The hardware sales have gone up because of this," P K Harikrishnan, president, Kerala Computer Manufacturers' and Dealers' Association said.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Some Conference!

This is a photograph of the participants of the 1927 Solvay Conference. Check out the bunch. 17 Nobel Prize winners and reads like a who's who of Physics/Chemistry. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall.. a really dumb fly on the wall.. heck would have been scary to present a paper at THAt conference!
A. Piccard, E. Henriot, P. Ehrenfest, Ed. Herzen, Th. De Donder, E. Schrödinger, E. Verschaffelt, W. Pauli, W. Heisenberg, R.H. Fowler, L. Brillouin,

P. Debye, M. Knudsen, W.L. Bragg, H.A. Kramers, P.A.M. Dirac, A.H. Compton, L. de Broglie, M. Born, N. Bohr,

I. Langmuir, M. Planck, Mme. Curie, H.A. Lorentz, A. Einstein, P. Langevin, Ch. E. Guye, C.T.R. Wilson, O.W. Richardson

Monday, June 05, 2006

Madai Thiranthu, Raja and all.

Its been a while since I wrote anything... Just don't find the enthu to do that.. but Vidya kept telling me to write something so I thought I might post something that I already wrote... I made a conscious decision to play more guitar this year... haven't played it at all over the last 2-3 years.. And having no cable tv in japan has helped immensely with that..

Anyway, this is a post I made to the guitar forum and discusses the tamil song Madai Thiranthu and its chord construction/progression etc. I doubt it will be of too much interest to people other than those who follow tamil songs AND play some instrument..

I thought that I would start off by posting the chords to the song "Madai Thiranthu" from Nizhalgal..

I play the song in the A#maj Scale. I don't know if this is the original one since I worked out the chords for this a few years ago, but it still works. If this is not the original scale, you can always move it around.

Ok.. the A#maj scale consists of the following notes:

A# C D D# F G A

The corresponding chords are:

A#, Cm, Dm, D#, F, Gm and Am-dim

(I apologize for being a little pedantic here but I have found that it usually helps to understand the scale first before going on to the chords).

The other thing to note is that you could call this the A#maj Scale or the Gmin Scale. The Gmin is the relative minor of the A#maj scale. (On the fretboard, you can identify this by going down three semitones (half notes) to find the relative minor of a major scale). The notes and chords remain the same except that you would start from G instead of A#. On second thoughts, seeing how the song shapes up, I would rather call this the Gmin Scale.

Anyway, let me give the chords first before a brief discussion:

Dm Gm A# Dm
Madai thiRanthu, Thaavum nathi alai naan,

Dm Gm A# Dm
Manam thiRanthu, koovum thiru kuyil naan,

Dm Cm Gm
Isai Kalaingan, yen aasaigaL aayiram

Gm A# Dm Cm F
Ninaiththathu PaLiththathu

Intro - 1

Stanza - 1

Dm A# Gm A#
Kaalam KaNinthathu, kathavugaL thiRanthathu

Dm A# Gm A#
Nyaanam ViLainthathu, nal Isai piRanthathu

Cm Cm Cm A#
Puthu raagam padaippathaale, Naanum iRaivanE,

A# A# A# Cm
Isaikkena IsaigindRa rasigargaL raajjiyam,

Cm Dm
YenakkE thaan.

The second stanza is similar.

A few things to note:

In the Gmin Scale, the chords are so:

Gm Amaj-dim A# Cm Dm D# F


where I, IV and V denote the tonic, subdominant and dominant of the scale.

1. The piece starts off with the V (Dm) and then resolves to the tonic (Gm) at the very beginning (Madai Thiranthu). I find this interesting because usually, people start off a song with the tonic and usually follow some chord progression, resoving it to the tonic again towards the end.

2. The chord progression in the first lines is I - III - V (nice.. different from the usual I-IV-V.

3. I like the resolution to tonic at the end of the (Ninaiththathu paLiththathu).. as Gm - A# - Dm - Cm - F which follows a I-III-V-IV-VII resolving to I at the next stanza.

4. The stanzas have the same basic I-III-V progression before getting to IV-V at the end (Cm - Dm) .. and letting it hang like that. Creates a certain tension that can ONLY be released by resolving to the I, which is done at the next "Madai Thiranthu" when the Gm is played. I have found that I usually love songs that do this uniformally.. (also songs where there are scale changes... but thats for another day).

5. In the second interlude, Raja subtly adds am F# into the mix. Now this is obviously outside the scale but nobody bothered to tell the Maestro that :) It creates a very nice effect.

That's it for now. :)

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Sachin makes his 35th!

Well, it took something fairly momentous to get me off my lazy bum and re-blog. And that was Sachin getting his 35th. For those of you who don't know who Sachin is or what the number 35 has to do with him, I must state that you are all Philistines, but being in the charitable mood that I am in right now, I shall go on to explain that the Indian batting maestro/genius/wizard (pick your choice here) Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar went on to register his 35th century in tests to become the world record holder, going past my other hero Sunil Manohar Gavaskar.

I must say that I was surprised at how emotional I became about this. I tried to call my dad to share the moment with him but he seems to have switched his cell phone off. You see, Sachin or Tendlya, is someone that my generation grew up with. I remember well my first sight of Sachin. I was in the 12th standard, studying in MCC Higher Sec. School in Madras. I was a hosteler there. Now MCCHS, is the school that has both the MRF Pace Foundation and the Brittania Amritraj Tennis Association in its grounds. (Since I am name dropping.. yes Leander Paes was a junior to me there and in fact won the Wimbledon junior crown while we were both at MCC). Anyway, various bowlers used to come to hone their skills at the MRF Pace foundation. Among them were the likes of Vivek Razdan, Sondhi (Forget his full name) who did go on to represent India. The MRF Pace foundation was on a ground at the back of hour school (near the back gate) where they had laid out some fresh pitches along with a state of the art gym etc.

It was my practice to walk on that road, along the ground to the back gate and back, with a book in hand, preparing for our "mock" exams. Thus it was that one day, I was trying to make sense out of my chemistry book when I noticed some activity near the MRF pitches, and, being the cricket nut that I am, walked over to investigate. I immediately noticed two chaps, one batting at the nets and the other putting on his pads. The first one, I didnt recognise though I remember asking him what his name was and he replied "Jatin Paranjpe" (I think). The second one, the one putting on his pads of course was Sachin. I couldn't have mistaken him for anyone else. This was just after that monstrous partnership he had with VInod Kambli when they mauled some hapless school for over 600 runs in a world record partnership. I had seen his photos in a number of papers and in reality he looked just the same, the same cherubic face, the serious visage, the curly mop of hair, the pads that looked too big for him and the bat that seemed to weigh a ton.

Soon it was his turn to play at the nets and in a breathtaking display where I was the sole spectator, he proceeded to play a dazzling array of stroked against the young India hopefuls belonging to the MRF pace foundation, a mighty David against seemingly liliputian Goliaths.
Once he finished, I was tempted to ask him for his autograph since I was sure he was going to make it big, but my 16 year old ego wouldn't allow me to beg a 14 year old kid for his autograph, something which my 34 year old self recognises as being one of the stupidest mistakes I ever made.

Anyway, it was soon after that that he made his debut for India in hostile Pakistan and stood up to Waqar, Wasim Imran and co. He gladdened our hearts when he went after Qadir in an exhibition one day game hitting him for 26 odd runs in an over (apparently after Qadir, having seen him demolish Mushtaq Ahmed, dared Sachin to go after him). I remember listening to his first test 100 while at Kanpur, listening in the far reaches of the night along with my father as we willed on this 17 year old lad to not only save the match for us but also to get that elusive first century. I delighted in his magnificent 100s in Australia, especially that Perth 100 where he did his by then familiar, Boy-on-the-burning-death routine with an in-your-face attitude, dishing out as good as he got.

You see, Sachin's rise was almost parallel to India's rise economically as a nation and hence he came to symbolise the new India. Not the INdia of before which though graceful and dignified nevertheless lacked the self-confidence to attack, that would defend with all it had, as epitomised by Sunil Gavaskar but would hardly take on bullies. Even Gavaskar seemed to change towards the end of his career where he suddenly came upon a more buccaneering spirit, perhaps a harbringer of things to come. And it was just as India was collectively sighing over the exit of Sunny Gavaskar from the game, that Sachin exploded onto the scene to conquer the minds of an entire generation. This was the new INdian. Not diffident. Not defensive. But a go-getter, steeped in self confidence, even bordering on arrogant over-confidence, who would meet a stare with a stare, a word with a verbal volley of his own, who wouldn't back down from a fight.

I believe that every Indian saw Sachin's successes and failures as his or her own successes or failures. I know that I certainly did. I know that for me, nothing gave greater pleasure than watching Sachin bat or even listening to commentary of him bat. I remember huddling over a small radio, trying to catch all india radio on SW2, for the match which first established Sachin as a one-day opener, the one against New Zealand. The reception was so bad that we could barely make out the score. Only the sudden explosion in volume would suggest an explosion from Sachin's bat and a sometimes heard score, would help us rapidly calculate how much Sachin had scored since the last time we heard the score. That was the joy. I recall that when India went to Australia on that ill-fated 1999 tour, how MCG started filling up as word went out that Sachin was batting and how, as often happened in India, the stadium rapidly started emptying when he got out.

I think most memories of my life, after 1989 are tied up in some way or the other with some SRT innings or the other. The other important thing about him of course is how level-headed he has been despite all the accolades and encommiums he has received over the years. Not a whiff of scandal has attached itself to him and his dignity and grace are examples that can be eminently followed by one and all. I know we probably have another 2-3 years left of this genius and there will be a big void which will probably never be filled once he leaves the playing fields, but till he is there, I intend to make the most of it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Jean Luc Picard and Moi...

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Vidya made me take this online personality test and apparently I am like jean Luc Picard. Well.. I don't know about character, but at least as far as the pate is concerned, I am still a fair ways off JLP territory. But getting there nevertheless!:-)

Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Beer Prayer

You all might have seen this before but here it is again.. Even as a teetotaller, I really enjoyed this :-)

The Beer Prayer

Our lager,
Which art in barrels,
Hollowed be thy drink.
I will be drunk, At home as in the tavern.
Give us this day our foamy head,
And forgive us our spillages,

As we forgive those who spill against us.
And lead us not into incarceration,
/ But deliver us from hangovers/.
For thine is the beer. the bitter and The lager
Forever and ever,

RDB, Medley and "Aa Dil Kya"

I was remarking to Vidya today (while listening to the Yaadon Ki Baraat, Hum Kisee Se Kam Nahin CD) that RDB had wasted quite a few tunes in the medleys in these movies, since he could have made separate songs from them. Vidya's reply was that maybe the producer didn't like them as solo songs and forced RD to bung them together into a medley...

Well, there might be something to that, since the medley in YKB, is ok but not great. I don't think "Aap ke Kamre mein.." could have made it big as a solo song. But then, if you listen to the medley in HKKN, each of those could have been very good solos.."Chand mera dil", "Aa dil kya" (more about this below), "Tum kya jaano" and "Mil Gaya" would have made it as solo songs. I think my favourite in this is "Aa dil kya"...

It is probably the best "short" song in Hindi movies... lasts barely 2 minutes.. but what a song. I am a little miffed with RDB for this.. This song Deserved a full 5 minutes. What a song. Never fails to perk me up. The first song "Chand Mera Dil" is kinda slow.. and then as it slows to a halt... the guitar starts up with some chords... Its been a while, but if I remember correctly.. it goes like B-A-G B-A, B. Wonderful... and then, the beat starts up with a single bass guitar motif starting out...

And Kishore's voice which first goes down the octave.. and then soars up..In the background is the chorus filling in for the chords almost.. wonderful wonderful piece.. and I wish RDB had made a full length song out of this.

The other piece I really like in that medley is "Mil Gaya".. this is actually "inspired" (in the tru fashion and not as in Annu Malik's inspirations) from the ABBA song "Tell me now"... but again, its the haunting chorus in the background as Asha's and Kishore's voice goes up.. in an almost step by step fashion (I think you have to listen to it to understand what I mean by that.. can't seem to explain it any better).. superb.

Oh well, I was always an RDB fan anyway :-)


Surface Transport King of Singapore..

Who's that you ask? That's me. Surprised? Fogged? At a loss? Let me explain..

See, its this way. Whenever Aditi sees a car, bus, train, boat or ship, we invariably end up asking who the things belong to. And she has one of two replies: She either says it belongs to me or to her. Seeing that she is a minor and hence can't legally own anything yet, I suppose I, as her father, have to shoulder the responsibility and burden and act as a sort of trustee. Hence, effectively, that makes me the Surface Transport King of Singapore. (STKS ... I had to get an acronym in... This is the Land of acronyms after all).

I wonder though why she never considers the planes to be her own. Or maybe we haven't asked. Anyway, please make sure you treat my various posessions well. Don't spit or eat and drink in them. And while on the station, "Silah amhil prahatiyaan... damik islamaataan anda.. harap padiri di belakang garisan kuning".. which is Malay for "Please stand behind the yellow line"!


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Stupid bombers!

Yeah the London bombings were sad and I feel sorry for all the victims and all that. But the purpose of this post is not to feel sad about the bombings (which I do sheesh) but to reflect on the imbecility of the bombers (if stories emanating from Scotland Yard are to be believed). Apparently, the bombers were fooled..By whom you ask? Why by the mastermind of course! I have this picture of a bearded, be-turbaned, be-patched mastermind (looking rather sinister) and with a James Bond villanesque cackle, laughing his guts out because he set the bombs to go off half an hour earlier than he let on to the chaps who were ferrying the bombs.

I mean come on, how daft do you have to be to trust a bearded, be-turbaned, be-patched, sinister looking, evilly cackling mastermind? And surely these bombs had those little ticking, countdown timers on them what? I have seen enough Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and English movies to know that whenever a mastermind sets some sort of a bomb, there inevitably is a countdown timer on it. If I were a chappie agreeing to lend a helping hand to said mastermind, I would keep a rather close watch on the countdown timer what? It seems the chappie who bombed the bus was frantically rummaging through his bag. You know what I think happened? The chap realized that he was starting to hear some rather high frequency ticking noises (with the frequency increasing with time). He took a look inside and suddenly saw the timer counting down 00:00:05...00:00:04 and before he could get his hand out from between all the wires (I am sure there were wires involved in it), the bomb went KaBOOOM..

Exit bomber chappie. Cackle away mastermind!


Lift woes...

You know how people are in lifts right? You go in and if there are people there who you know really well then there is no problem... you get into a small conversation.. nothing too long or elaborate since you probably have about 30 seconds together. Just stuff like "hey, how's it going?" Typical topics to discuss are the weather (always a safe bet) or office environment (always worth a safe 15 second moan) or sports (of course not if you are in Singapore. You hardly see people discuss sports here).

So this I don't mind.. getting into lifts with people I know. However, with people you don't know, what usually happens is this.. you give a tight little smile or could be a nod of the head to say " Ok.. I acknowledge you as a live homo sapien..We have somehow got to spend the next 30 seconds together in this lift.. I don't know you and I don't really care whether you exist or not.. but as long as we are together we can coexist". This is what that little nod means. And then people usually stare straight in front of them and periodically check the progress of the lift (or look at their watches as if to say "Wow this IS taking long").

The problem for me is this: The lift (or elevator for the Yanks) we have in our office building has polished steel doors.. which means that if you get into the lift with a stranger and try the staring ahead technique, it is bound to fail. You end up catching the eye of the stranger again and then you have to go through the whole little-nod-of-the-head or tight-smile technique. I just can't handle it.. And looking alternately at the progress of the lift and then down at your shoes just looks daft. Oh well! Another cross I have to bear!