Sunday, September 13, 2009

fly, fly away

I still remember when I was a kid growing up in mid 80s, I would stand on my terrace and watch Woodpecker digging holes into the trunk, Owls sitting on the tree top. Watching hoards of vultures scavenge carcass on the road side was a sight everyone in those days would be quite familiar with. I would be in awe of all these wonderful creatures. Many years have passed since then and along with them most of the birds have disappeared or sighting them has become a rare phenomenon. Even, a "common" sparrow is not so common these days, all I get to see these days are crows, pigeons and kites, if you want to watch some exotic birds like the hill mynah, vultures, owls you need to go to places which are "reserved" for these creatures by us (read bird sanctuaries) or go to places where humans have not yet cut the trees and built concrete jungles. With the rate at which the birds are disappearing or are being confined to "reserved" places, I guess, the children of tomorrow would only have pictures of these birds without having a chance to see for themselves.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

just my imagination

It's been a while as usual since I posted last and I guess it has something to do with how I feel these days. I think writing posts require pretty decent amount of imagination and creativity (unless you want to write just for the sake of writing something), and off-late I don't seem to have either; it's not like that I don't have anything to write about; it's just that I have don't have enough creativity to elaborate it into a meaningful post. I've been thinking about writing on some of the technical stuff that I learned in the recent past (mostly the hard way), some SEO stuff, some photography tidbits, some gear lust but every time I feel like writing something; I just draw a blank. The other thing that I always wanted to try my hands on was short stories, I have a quite a few themes in my mind (some callous, some not so) but again just don't seem to have enough steam to get those into something concrete. I know I need to be a bit more frequent with my posts (just for my own sanity) but somehow I can't get my darn act together!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Photography tidbits

One of the first thing that bites you if you're into photography is what subject to photograph? Do you just take pictures of the same ole' flowers, monuments or do you try to be different. The problem with trying to being different is finding out all those things which haven't been captured before. So, you hunt for those places/things (either mentally or physically) and then give up and in the end take the pictures of the same subjects which have been taken umpteen times before (butterfly on a flower, a flower petal, sunsets etc). You still believe that at least your photographs offer something different, maybe, a new perspective, a new *vision* (basically, all the things that you try to convince yourself with). Then, you get into some equipment acquisition syndrome and dream of owning the best in the class (read the most expensive); Zeiss & Leica lenses, Nikon D3X, Hasselblad: if something is so freaking expensive it gotta be good, right?

I am one of the 3 people in my country (the other two haven't been vociferous about it yet) who owns a 4/3rds system (a Olympus e-510), and honestly apart from a tiny-winy viewfinder; I haven't had too much to complain about the camera (I generally take all the blame for out of focus, horrifically shaky pics). Quite a few people have asked me why I invested into a 4/3rds system; well; just like my any other investment it wasn't something that I carefully thought about but was just an impulsive buy (I didn't even try it or any other brand before buying). It's a funny thing that I always believed I don't need a dSLR and was happy with my P&S (a Canon A95) till I decided to go for a trip to Corbett National Park where I had an opportunity to capture a tiger in the wild for the first time and boy, did I manage to capture it with a 3x optical zoom of Canon! I think sometimes you just need a better equipment to bail yourself out. Anyway, has the dSLR made me a better photographer than before? No, definitely not but it does allow me to experiment a bit more and push my own creative limits…it reminds me of a saying that I read long ago:

The difference between a picture and painting is that

a picture is a frozen captured moment of true life,

whereas a painting can be anything imagined in your mind.

..... someday, all these paintings will become pictures.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

where art thou?

Been a while since I wrote something, have been busy off-late with doing nothing. I guess, nothingness is a hard feeling/habit to get out of! Anyway, some time back I started playing with a cooked WM6.5 on my phone and I think though there still are miles to go but it's a step in the right direction by MS (finally a WM version which doesn't require you to pull out your stylus!). Anyway, one thing that I found missing in titanium was the task plugin so the developer in me hacked together something (more on how I did it later, given that it was my first attempt at building something for the mobile device) which did what I wanted and it now is available on xda-developers with a very original name of taskanium.

Apart from that I have revitalized my love for photography (albeit in a very small way) and have been bitten by LAS (Lens Acquisition Syndrome). I also think, I should start something like "How-I-Took-It" posts, where I can just dissect my photo and the technique that I used to capture the shot (Ok, I am no pro but I guess I have the basic concepts of photography clear).

Sunday, March 22, 2009

solr and locale sensitive sort

Another of those meaningless exercises:
We've been using solr on our project for quite a bit now and have been quite pleased with it, everything went great till we had to support character based language (Chinese to be more specific). Based on my research, I decided to use CJKAnalyzer for analyzing and tokenizing and the results returned were generally acceptable, the only issue being the results were not sorted in any rather random order if I asked solr to sort results alphabetically. After couple of hours of hunting solr user groups and looking at the solr source, I realized that solr does'nt provide any support for locale sensitive sorting. Since finding out the problem is half the problem already solved, all I had to do was extend from solr's built-in StrField; add support for another attribute (locale) in schema.xml and pass that to new instance of SortField and voila, solr was happily returning the results sorted by pinyin. In case you are interested, below is the discussion around the problem and the JIRA issue for solr (which has the new locale sensitive custom java class):

do we need guitars?

I was just reading the "starting over" post on Mars Need Guitars, a blog I used to follow earlier to check out music before it disappeared into oblivion. It's funny what depression can do to you, it can slowly eat away all that is inside of you and even before you know what hit you, you are already spiritually dead. A lot of things in that post reminded me of myself, someone who too is trying to get past every day; and (luckily) somehow succeeding at it. I just wish I could start afresh and do things that I want to do: write some short stories, write the book that always I wished to write, get away from this meaningless stuff and just break free. Maybe, one of these days, I will.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


A new year and same day to look back at life and think about where I am. Over the past few years a couple of questions have haunted me:

1) Where am I?
I don't think I know where I am in terms of my mental & emotional state; the scary thing is that I don't even care any longer.

2) Am I happy doing what I am doing?
No, I am not happy doing what I am doing either professionally or personally. Life has just been meandering along all these years. Earlier, I would get all worked up and try to change things that I wouldn't like but off-late it's more of sorta resigning to the facts...I don't even feel like doing anything to change my life and/or its course.

3) Do I know what I want?
Everyone will tell you that they are not getting what they want, the trouble is very few of us are even aware of what we really want. I have no guilt in admitting that I don't know what I want in my life. I can tell for sure what I DON'T want, but I don't know what will make me happy, any longer. It's just that sometimes, I feel like running away; don't know what I want to run away from, perhaps myself.

4) Have I changed over these years?
Yes, I have and quite a bit. I don't feel that strongly about anything. I used to fight for what I felt was right; I don't now. I have no problems in doing what others want me to do cause I don't feel strongly for or against anything. I believe feelings are strongly connected with your emotions and since I spent so many emotions over these years; it looks like my emotions have run out. I just go through the motions now; don't want to change anything or more rightly put; don't have any strength and motivation to change anything. Why shall I change something which doesn't matter to me, anyway?

5) Do I deserve more?
I don't know, anyway it doesn't matter what I think. My life has always been dictated by what others wanted in their life; perhaps I've let people come too close to me and yes, if I get a second chance I would still do the same thing over & over again without event a second thought.

Friday, February 20, 2009

bad programmer, no cookie!

One of things that I'd been thinking of while trying to optimize the website we've been working on is cookies. One of the issue with a non-www site is that it generally is the root domain, so any cookie that is issued by the root domain will result in the browser sending that cookie with all the subsequent requests (even requests to a sub-domain and for static content). So, let's say you have a site hosted at and all the static content is served through a sub-domain (say by a CDN, any cookies set by have to be sent to, even though the static content hosted at CDN doesn't need the cookies set by root domain. Most of the perf guides that I've read, generally recommend using a cookie-less domain , by hosting the main site on a www subdomain or by using a new domain altogether for serving the static content. Using a www or non-www version is sometimes a corporate choice (which might be influenced by the company's branding; as in our case), and using a different "cookie-less" domain might run you into XSS limitations of the browser. So, wouldn't it be nice if I could provide some kinda hint to the browser as to when not to send the cookies using some meta tag. For instance, if I want to exclude a sub-domain from receiving any parent domain's cookies, I could do:
<meta name="no-cookies" content=",">
And, in case I want to exclude certain file types on the same parent domain itself from receiving any cookies, I could do:
<meta name="no-cookies-for-files" content="jpg,js,css...">
The second meta tag will ensure that browser doesn't send back the cookies for any (static) content which doesn't need the cookies even though the content is served by the same domain. The no-cookies-for-files has to be file extension based instead of MIME based cause to figure out the MIME type, the browser has to make a request first. We can extend this idea even further; but I guess adding these two meta tag support (call it anything that you wish) would be great!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

bloomr: what's blooming?

Very few people know that I love gardening and I love flowers (one of my new found interests while I was on a 8 month job break). One of the challenges for a budding gardener is to find out what all is blooming during this time of the year, and though you can make a dash to a nursery; lazy bums like me prefer the e-way! So, my way of finding the (good & not so common) flowers is by scurrying flickr to find recent blooms in my city. This method has served me well but since I've been completely bored off-late; I decided to automate the entire process.
Enter popfly:I had played with popfly when it was launched; and couple of days back I decided to log in to see if there was any new features/improvements to it; first thing that I figured out was that none of my blocks were working! Fixing them wasn't tough and since I had long ago written a flickr block to retrieve photos from flickr; I decided to re-use it for my flower search. The logic is quite straight-forward; the block expects the city name (actually, a place) as a user input; hits flickr to get the place id for the user entered text and then hits flickr again with a hard-wired query (currently set to: flower+bloom). Since, I would most probably be only interested in finding the recent blooms (instead of flowers blooming last summer), the code also limits the photos to the ones which were taken in last two months (current month-2). Finally, the block wires the output to a display block to display the flowers in some kinda slide show. I ran into couple of issues with the wiring of display block I decided to use (ImageSlideShow): it wouldn't clear the images before starting a new slideshow; this would mean if I search for say Boston first, and in the mid of slideshow; decide to search for Seattle; the seattle flowers are appended to the boston list! Fixing this issue meant, ripping off the ImageSlideShow block; exposing the clearImages method and calling it in the glue code between flickr block and ImageSlideShow block. Once, the mashup was all set; I decided to create a web-page around it in popfly; unfortunately the html generated is not the best (understatement) and I haven't felt like tweaking it (yet). I generally don't like iframes but that's what you get with popfly and I still haven't figured out a way to change the background of my mashup. Anyway, in case you are interested in giving [i]bloomrtm a twirl; you can give it a shot here: on popfly or here

Sunday, February 01, 2009

A thousand times over

Six years ago; on this day i'd asked myself a question, a question which I answered without any answer which changed my life and is more or less responsible for where i am today. So would i now have come up with a different answer, given how life has been all these years? No, i still would have given the same answer, a thousand times over.