Need Help with Firefox Safe Mode

When I click the start button on my Windows XP machine the Firefox icon (from which I can start Firefox) always seems to open Firefox in safe mode. Wonder why. Any idea how to fix this?

I use a shortcut on y desktop to start Firefox in Normal mode. This works just fine. I’d like to be able to start it in normal mode from the Windows XP start button. Any help or pointers will be much appreciated.

Sulphur Creek Nature Center: Good place for a kid’s birthday party

Tired of kids’ birthday parties at pumpitup, Indian restaurants, etc. Here is good alternative in the bay area (Hayward): Sulphur Creek Nature Center.

Nice place to host kids birthday party. Kids will have fun. They bring in some animals/birds, talk about them, have a puppet show etc. You can see some snakes, birds, animals etc (in a zoo type setting) and the place is nice, cool and green.

I had never seen a guinea pig before. Saw one at the Sulphur Creek Nature Center. Also got to see an owl, real close for the very the first time.

VoIP: Taking the Plunge!

Internet phone services have been around for a while now. But taking the plunge to make the change from conventional phone service to Internet based phone was not an easy one. The biggest concern was the reliability of the Internet connect. What happens if the Internet connect goes down? The mobile phone is certainly an option if this happens.

There are several excellent features offered by Internet phone services, but the most valuable one is easily the ability to keep your number unchanged even if you change your address (in my case, this was the clincher). Voice mail messages delivered via email is feature that we have found to be very useful as well among other features.

On the downside there are 911 call issues. In other words, the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) doesn’t automatically know your details when you make a 911 call unlike a conventional phone line. Depending on your physical address this might not be an issue for some Internet phone service providers because of the Enhanced 911 (E911) services.

Vonage is a well known provider of Internet phone service. They had a recent IPO. Packet8 is another option. However, I chose Lingo since they offer unlimited calling to Western Europe in addition to US and Canada. With Skype offering free calls in the US, these services are soon going to get a run for their money.

Same Quotes, Different Report

Check out the Times of India report and the
report on Rahul Dravid’s quotes after the recent ODI series defeat. No where does the site refer to Dravid saying that Ganguly, VVS and Kumble were missed!

A perfect example of TOI cooking up stories starting with the very title of the article! Listen to the actual audio of Dravid’s interview.

Book Review: The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Title: The Five People You Meet in Heaven
Author: Mitch Albom

Another example, where I was impressed with one book by an author and almost blindly picked up another by the same author, only to be doubly dissappointed. Albom’s earlier book, (Tuesdays with Morrie) was extremely well-written and deeply moving. This book attempts to achieve the same objectives but fails to do so in my opinion. The story is about a war veteran who eventually dies in a accident while trying to save the life of a little girl. He then goes to heaven where he meets five people one after the other. The idea is that these five people have in some way influenced the path his life has taken. Meeting these folks is meant to give some kind of closure and meaning to his life. The concept of the book is very interesting but somehow as I progressed through the book, I didn’t find it as engaging and gripping as Tuesdays with Morrie. Nevertheless, its an easy read, one that you can easily wrap up on a flight.

India’s Test Team to WI

The Indian selectors once again did a better job than they have done in the past of selecting the Indian Test team. VRV Singh and Raina got the nod mostly on the basis of future potential while Powar’s call to the Test team was certainly due. Agarakar’s inclusion in the team has always been a mystery. It nice to see the selectors finally looking beyond Agarakar (though it won’t be surprising if he makes a mysterious comeback in the next series!). Dinesh Karthick’s inclusion is bit of a mystery too. With just three Tests, its unlikely that he will make the team, barring an injury to Dhoni. Then, why bother?

Sachin will no doubt be missed. The one to benefit the most from his absence is VVS Laxman. He was dumped from the Test against England (quite unfairly one could argue) to include Yuvraj and a fifth bowler. This is his golden opportunity to set the record straight that when it comes to Tests he deserves a slot ahead of Yuvi and Kaif and should never be traded in to make way for a fifth bowler. If he doesn’t goofup in the first couple of Tests he is likely to play all the Tests. He should grab this opportunity to cement his position in the Test team. Else he might find himself out of the Test side fairly quickly like he did from the ODI team. Unfortunate, given his talent and his record (especially against the mighty Aussies), but the truth is that there is plenty of talent waiting on the sidelines.

California Governor’s Race

Saw the last debate between Steve Westly and Phil Angelides. I must admit, neither of these candidates appear to have what it takes to beat Arnie. Angelides has a Gray Davis like presence while Steve Westly comes across as a John Edwards like candidate with and added negative of a “deer in headlights” look particularly when he looks ito the camera!

Between the two Democratic aspirants, given that there are no filmstars (!) in the fray, it might be best for the party to support Steve Westly. The man is a Silicon Valley product and has made his money. He can match Arnie’s “I am an outsider, I don’t need no money from special interests” stand even if he can’t compete on name recognition. Besides, having a valley man in the Governor’s mansion might just be what the valley, California and to some extent the US needs to bring back even the partial economic glory days of the 90s.

At the last recall election, Arnie rode his outsider image, his filmstar popularity and Gray Davis’ fall from grace, to come to power. This time around, he appears to be far better prepared after his Sacremento experience. He is far more capable today to fight a conventional battle including a debate or two to win the election. I saw Arnie speak recently at a public event and I felt that he had come a long way. He gave a stump speech without refering to any notes. He did a fine job of staying on message. With experience he is proving to be a very astute politician. Besides, he is riding high from his budget surplus gains. At the present moment, he seems very likely to win re-election.

Time Cover Story: Gen Michael Hayden

One of the recent issues of the Time mag had Gen Michael Hayden on the cover. And guess what the title was? It reads, “Does this man have your phone number?”

I couldn’t help laughing! In this midst of the NSA wire-tapping scandal it is understandable that opponents of the Govt. accuse it of wrong doing, tapping phone calls of innocent Americans etc. But the press takes the cake for exaggeration, sensationalism and a desperate attempt to inject paranoia into everyday lives of Americans. The press makes it sound like Gen Hayden is walking around with a Palm full of phone numbers!

The wire-tapping issue is one of those “Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t” issues where the Govt. can never win. On the one hand, the Govt. has to protect further attacks. On the other any kind of surveillance is bound to be criticized. Its simply impractical for the the Govt. to have formally announced the wire-tapping plan and taken everyone’s blessing before launching it!

Gen Hayden seems headed for confirmation in any case. It makes no sense to have a long drawn battle over this nomination, especially when the Democrats don’t have the numbers to push back.

Second ODI: WI Earn Fine Win

A fine show by WI. Great fielding and some tight bowling ensured the WI an exciting win. India came cross as a tad over-confident. Each batsman seemed to think that the next man can always do the job. With Yuvraj looking solid right through, all he needed was someone to hang out with him till the end. Unfortunately for India it was not be.

Not to take away any credit from Yuvraj for a superb performance but at the death I thought he goofed up rather badly. After scoring two fours (one a fluke and the other one an impressive drive) he had no reason to go for a wild slog. A more seasoned player might have bet on his ability to pick two runs of the remaining three balls. Worst case, he could have tied the game. Out in the middle, in the midst of all the excitement and pressure, its easier said than done to do the right thing. But it won’t hurt for India’s sporting heroes to occasionally bet on common sense over raw physical ability.

Moview Review: Waqt

Title: Waqt
Language: Hindi
Starring: Amitabh, Akshay Kumar, Priyanka Chopra.

One word to describe this film. Awful. Please avoid.

Useless son (Akshay) gets married (Priyanka), doting father (Amitabh) decides to fix son, drives him out, then Dad turns sick doesn’t tell son, heavy melodrama follows (Dad and daughter-in-law wheeled into the hospital at the same time!), and then it ends. Thank God! As always, a few meaningless, yet glamorous songs are thrown in. Amitabh was his usual self (its obvious he’ll do any role as long as you pay him well). Priyanka Chopra is there purely for glamor purposes. Akshay has nothing special to offer either.

In short, this film is complete trash. Thankfully, I slept through parts of it.

I am told that the movie was a big hit in India! Please….