Top 10 signs you are likely to vote for Kerry

10. If you knew everything you know today, before we invaded Iraq, you would still be both for and against the war.

09. You think that, push comes to shove, Teresa can write checks and bring down the deficit.

08. You can’t bear the thought of President Hillary Clinton in 2008.

07. You are scared to imagine the kind of things an out of work Bill Clinton would do in the White House come 2008.

06. You heard that Clinton advisors are back and think Lewinsky can’t be far behind.

05. You are tired of being jobless in America and hated in the world.

04. You won’t drink even if Bush wants to have a beer with you.

03. You love John Edwards so much, you don’t want to hurt him.

02. You are very upset because you think Tiger Woods’ title was outsourced.

01. You think that John Kerry looks like the perfect horse for America to ride.

It’s the Browser war again? I hope not.

The infamous Netscape vs IE battle ended with Microsoft destroying both Netscape and its browser. Just when you thought the browser battles were behind us, comes Mozilla’s Firefox browser. Its really well designed and has a pleasing interface. Besides it has several powerful features, my favorite one being the “tabs” feature. I am one of those crazy web users who is always willing to experiment with the latest and greatest in Internet technology. I don’t mean to take away any credit from the developers of the Firefox browser, its an excellent product, no doubt. But sometimes I can’t help wonder, why bother with another browser?

Microsoft makes most of its money from MS-Office and its continuing to grow by the minute. Just look at Powerpoint, everyone from teachers, Prof, trainers, business professionals (of course!), now school kids (yes!), politicians, and lawyers, can’t seem to live without it! Instead of re-starting the browser wars, the anti-Microsoft world will serve its cause much better if it simply came together to try and develop an alternative to the ubiquitous MS-Office. By this I don’t mean just another MS-Office clone (Star what?). Instead I mean, something fundamentally new, different, easy to use, and does the job of MS-Office and plenty more. Until this happens, its going to be virtually impossible to even make a dent in the MS monopoly. Just when I was writing this a friend sent me a rumor about Google’s potentially upcoming new browser! Maybe they have a browser plus more coming and not just another browser. Given Google’s products to-date (not including the painfully slow Orkut which Google acquired), I think something exciting could be on its way.

Top 10 signs you are likely to vote for Bush

10. You can’t speak a single sentence in English without making a mistake.

09. You believe it is a good thing if you are forced to re-locate to Bangalore.

08. You hate the French.

07. You make way too much money and are sick and tired of paying taxes.

06. You believe that the best way to spread freedom is to stuff democracy down other countries throats.

05. You have fallen for Cheney’s good looks.

04. You think the environment is nothing to be concerned about as long as your heater and air-conditioner are working fine.

03. You think that the guy you like to drink beer with is more likely to protect you and your family.

02. You don’t care what the rest of world thinks of America or its citizens.

01. You are afraid Bush will be born yet again and kick your ass if you don’t vote for him.

Gmail is really cool

I have been using Gmail for a few months now and I think it is really cool. There was a lot of hype and hoopla about the 1G free space, outrage over targeted advertising, accusations about Google trying to ape Yahoo etc. In any case, there is no question that unlike the scores of free email services available today, Gmail is significantly different. It has really brought a fresh new thinking to the email application. As a regular user over the last few months, here are some of my thoughts on Gmail in general.
  • Discussions instead of email messages: All email exchanges on a certain subject are nicely grouped together and available as “discussions.” This makes it so much easier than having to review so many emails before recalling the thread of an email trail. If you find yourself constantly searching your email folders trying to figure out what the context of a certain set of email exchanges were, you will find this features immensely helpful.
  • Labels instead of folders: All email can be assigned one or more labels. This gets away from the conventional folder approach. You can now assign multiple labels to an email and find the same email under multiple labels. It is like being able to store the same email in multiple folders. If you find yourself in a dilemma very often about which folder a certain email has to belong to, then this is a feature you are going to love.
  • Search across email messages: Understandably, there is powerful search capability that comes with gmail. The gmail philosophy revolves around — why delete email when you can easily search and you have more space than you care for? While I don’t necessarily subscribe to the “never delete email” philosophy, I think the ability to search your emails is extremely powerful. In fact, it will be really powerful if someday email search can happen magically across all email accounts of a user and not necessarily only in Gmail.
  • Apply Stars to messages: Messages can be assigned stars. This makes them easier to find during search. Another very useful feature which goes hand in hand with the search capability.
  • No Drafts: I didn’t find a way to save the draft of an email so I could come back to it later. This will be a very useful feature to have. But at this stage, I don’t think this feature is supported.
  • No Sorting: I didn’t find a way to sort the messages in my Inbox. For instance, there is no way to view your Inbox such that you see all the messages sorted according to the sender. This will be very useful, because the user can easily apply a common label and then archive all the messages from a particular user.
  • Beta: Gmail is still in beta. I have come across times when the service is unavailable. The occurrence of this has reduced dramatically over the last several weeks. On the one hand it is very annoying when this happens. On the other hand, I am happy to give the Google folks a break, after all its a free service! Google often has extended beta periods (sometimes seemingly indefinite). For instance, google news which has been around for several months now, is still in beta.
  • Accounts by invitation only: New accounts are assigned only when an existing gmail user invites other users. It is an interesting approach, but despite this restriction, I believe there are a large number of registrants. If you want an account, send me a note at pkurup@gmail.com A friend of mine invited me to open an account and I have been a user ever since.
  • Targeted Advertising: Despite all the privacy concerns raised, personally I think targeted advertising is fine. In fact, I think targeted ads are pretty useful. They appear on the right side of the page just like ads that appear when you run a search on Google. It is by no means intrusive. For instance, I have always been interested in DVDs of past cricket matches and haven’t found a good site that sells these. The targeted ads from Gmail pointed me to one.
  • Ease of Use: Gmail is clearly different from other email tools. So it does take some time to get accustomed to it. But my experience has been that Gmail grows on you to a point that you start longing for similar features in your everyday usage of email (for instance, at work).

I believe Gmail is a great first step towards more powerful email and personal knowledge/information management tools. The vast amount of email traffic in corporations and across the world has reached a point where inefficiencies are being introduced simply because of the sheer volume of email content generated. (For an interesting side note check out — Fridays: Casual days without e-mail) It is becoming imperative that smarter ways of dealing with email be developed and made available. The challenge is to develop new applications that blend well with the conventional email usage but at the same time is fundamentally more powerful. Gmail is clearly a good first step in this direction, in my opinion. The folks at Google are obviously very very smart and I expect more such cool stuff from them in the years ahead.

An Old Cricket Match Report: A blast from the past

Note: This is an old cricket match report from 1992 contributed by Prasad Saggurti. Back on popular demand! Its a Fri evening, and time for some nostalgia. Pyarae bahiyon, enssooyy!

It was definitely the stuff dreams are made of. Well, maybe Dan wouldn’t actually agree with that, but i’m sure Adam will. Yesterday, SCCC II played UC-Davis at home. Dan “The irritating Man” won the toss and decided to bat. The first ball of the game resulted in a snick which didn’t quit carry to keeper. The second ball was a plumb lbw. From then on, it was a procession. Noman and Adam bowled very well and bowled their 9 overs straight.Noman got 4 wickets and Adam 3. Davis was reeling at 42 for 8and there was talk of sending Rehman and Sam in as the openers. Pran was bowling well but he got nailed by a stright drive which broke his finger and split the skin. Really bad cut. Believe me, I was there. It was not very pretty. So he had to leave and Justin filled in for fielding. Then David started batting very well. He got good support from the other end from Tahir. Those two had a ~70 runs partnership when Shamim finally got Tahir run out for 27. David holed out to Noman at long off for 46 in the next over.

They were all out for 118. If you thought that was bad, you should have seen our batting. I got a creeper which seemed to increase in speed after pitching, in the second over of the innings and was bowled for 2. A coupla overs later, Barinder was lbw to David for 3. Shamim went in next. Shree was batting sensibly leaving all the wide balls until he decided to gofor a drive which he nicked to keeper. It got worse. Shamim and Noman were playing well until Shamim thought he could finish the game in the next five overs. He holed out to deep cover point for 8. Noman and Adam started batting and visionsof a recovery seemed a reality with Noman hitting a six which carried a maximum of 24 inches above the ground. He too got a tad carried away and tried to flick a ball on the middle stump and got bowled for 15. Ram went in and after a coupla overs got bowled, again by Srini, the ball cutting back and Ram playing half-cocked and very half-heartedly.
Adam was in there with Sam. Adam was playing well, taking the singles and hitting the occasional loose balls for more. Sam had afew lusty hits and in between cussing at Dan and at the pitch, the earlier batsmen, the bowling, the phase of the moon and the wicket keeper’s beard, he compiled 10 runs. He then got run out in a most unfortunate manner. Then Rehman went in. He played for a while giving good support to Adam. The score was now close to 60 for 7. Remember we didn’t have Pran and we could only bat 10 people. Adam decided to take matters into his own UCLA-bound hands and started a bit of clobbering in inimitable Pirrie-style. A coupla boundaries and the opening bowlers were back in to grab the wickets. They were seen through. Dan and Bissu had 5 overs betweenthem to get these guys out now. After a few overs and 25 runs, Rahman was bowled by Bissu, an inswinging full toss. Deepak, our replacement for Krish, went in and batted well. Then Adam decided to farm the strike, which was a very good idea at this juncture. The score then moved quickly to 92 before Deepak got bowled by Bissu trying to swing him to leg. He made 5. The score was 92 for 9.
Pran decided to bat one handed, and what a heroic sight it was to see! The man can bat! One hand behind his back to keep the ball from hitting his finger again, stiff bent-at-the-elbow top hand, he defended. He stretched forward, he stayed back, but he was never beaten. Never beaten. Dan bowled fast, Dan bowled slow, Dan even chucked. Nope. Pran was still around, defending away, stoically. Nothing bothering him, not even the regular sledging from Davis’s most uncharismatic captain. Adam on the other end, was playing most excellently. He kept the scoreboard moving. The pair saw Dan and Bissu’s overs through. Then the non-regular bowlers came on. Nothing seemed to bother Adam. He kept taking the singles on the last coupla balls of the over and the occasional 2’s before. Pretty soon, the score was 108. The bowling was changed, but the singles kept coming. And then with the score at 113 for 9 and six more to win, Adam hit a glorious six over long onto pull off a most unlikely victory.
The heroes for us were definitely Adam and Pran, but one cannot forget Noman forhis excellent bowling, Sam, Rehman and Deepak for the determination they showed in providing solid support for Adam in our quest for glory.
Gentlemen, I hereby nominate Adam Pirrie for Man of theMatch for his most excellent all-round display of cricketingskills. Dat Australian! He-a reel gutsy, maan!! Woh ekdumgood cricketeer, yaaaa!!! Dat Adam, he da real Comeback Kid!!

Gentlemen, I hereby nominate Pran Kurup to the SCCC Hall of Fame for his most heroic display of blood and guts. His score may only show up as zero on the scoresheet, but comrades, in the eyes of thosewho watched the game, he tallied more than the rest of the players combined. He shall henceforth be known as Blood’n’Guts. You may rise now, Pran “Blood’n’Guts” Kurup.
It was a great game. It will always be remembered as a game where character triumphed over seemingly insurmountable circumstances. I was reminded of the statement made by the legendary Neville Cardus – “what knows he, who only knows cricket?”. Definitely thestuff legends are made of. definitely.

Ooops. did i get carried away and forget to postthe score-sheet? That’s because i don’t have it with me. But the team scores were:


UC-Davis: 118 all out in 40.2 overs. (Noman 4w, Adam 3w, David 46, Tahir 27)

Santa Clara II: 119 for 9 in 39.3 overs (David 3w, Srini 3w, Adam 61n.o., Pran 0 n.o)

Why?

  • If you observe, you’ll find a number of cops hanging around perfectly safe areas in the US. For instance, drive down Castro Street in Mountain View, California once, and you’ll find at least a couple of cops driving by. I agree there is a police station not far from there, but why do these folks have to hang out in such a safe places? Don’t we distribute our cops so areas with a higher crime rates have more cops deployed? I guess the constant joke about cops hanging out at donut shops definitely has some merit.
  • Sounds like Russia is headed for more blatant dictatorship. More terror => introduce more controls => Instill more fear => Consolidate power (patriot act, color coded threat levels, detention without hope for due process etc.). The World now has another dictator to deal with, perhaps its time to re-draw the axis of evil and think pre-emptive(!!), I suppose.
  • Most of the Indian newspaper websites (TOI, Sify, Chennaionline etc.) have started displaying those annoying, intrusive flash ads. The interesting thing is that all of them started displaying these pretty much at the same time almost like identical dance steps seen in hindi films. Ironically, there was picture of President of India, Abdul Kalam and a report about something he said about education and just when I started reading it, across flashed an ad for Golden Eagle beer!!
  • John Kerry appears to be dropping behind in the polls. Edwards is all but missing. I have never seen a mention of his name in the newspapers for several weeks now! The Bush-Cheney team is crusing along since their very well orchestrated convention. The recent international survey findings about the US presidential race were interesting, but not surprising.

IIT KGP Alumni picnic 2004 in the SF Bay Area

The IIT KGP alumni picnic in bay area was back in business after a break of one year. Last year the kgp picnic was folded into the pan-iit picnic. Obviously, the experiment to bring all the IITs together for a picnic had not worked. This year better sense prevailed and all the IIT volunteer armies were issued marching orders to do their own thing. In other words, the widely popular kgp bay area picnic which has been a regular feature for over a decade was back!

The loss of a year appeared to have impacted the events momentum. A number of the regulars (especially from the 80s batches) were not seen around, while a majority of the attendees belonged to the post 1996 batches. The 80s grads were busy chauffering their kids to soccer/baseball games, while there were others who were travelling and could not attend. Of course, there was also the regular “Kaata-yaar, tempo nahin hai” types who did not make it to the event. Missing this year were the singers and guitarists (Shyamal and Dennis duo). A surprise attendee was Aditya Nath Jha who is based in India (86 batch RK) but who happened to be in town. A new feature of this years event was beer guzzling competition. Food, beer, volleyball, cricket and tug of war were the other attractions. The kids loved the pizza and the bubbles.

Overall, the event was great fun as always and hats off to the organizers for pulling it off. The “young and the restless” volunteer team under the seasoned guidance of Roy de Silva (President of the Bay area chapter) has set a target of 500 for next years picnic.

Click here to see a few pictures from the event. (My camera ran out of charge as always after these pictures).