Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Light Again...

[This is an article I once wrote for a Creative Writing competition. Only the first line was provided to us... ]

It wasn't a dark and stormy night.

Nobody cared why. Even though the last century had been just one dark and stormy night, today light was back.

The Sun had run out of the energy it had been using for a billion years. And had life on earth come to an end? Read on and find out...

An alarm sounded on Phoenix IX. One by one, the members of the crew woke up, entered the Refresher (which sterilised them from top to bottom, carefully destroying every microbe near them without damaging even a single human cell) and got to the control room.

Proxima Centauri had finally come close enough to the earth to provide light sufficient to start the photogenerator (a machine that can convert light energy to mechanical and other forms of energy). The development of the photogenerator had taken 5 million years to develop. Generation after generation had been trained to understand its concepts with 24-hr classes on the Phoenix IX, and the entire population specialised in microelectronics research. Every individual, however, was kept educated about real life on the earth through sophisticated virtual tours.

Phoenix IX was part of a major space shuttle system called “Omni-Phoenix.” The “Omni-Phoenix” had been launched from earth 5 billion years ago. It constituted of 12 sub-shuttles named Phoenix I-XII, each of which had been estimated to operate about half a billion years, and start to fail. Just before a sub-shuttle failed, it was to deploy the next sub-sub-shuttle. (Phoenix I followed by Phoenix II, and so on)

When the project had been initiated, it had been treated with immense scepticism. To start with, the prophecy of the sun's energy running out was never taken seriously. Even then, the project enthusiasts has managed to get the consent of 50,000 individuals from all around the world to operate the Phoenix, trained them meticulously and also put about a million people into low temperature hibernation. The prophecy has come true, the cynical had perished, and it was time to revive the world.

Time and Control...

Do we control time or does time control us?

I'll make an attempt to look at the topic without including the role of religion that comes into play.

That will make it a little harder to analyse...

Are events just “destined” to happen? Are we just playing a role in a play whose script is already written? Why are we thinking about things like this? Why are you reading this blog? Is it part of the script? Or did you choose to type the url in your browser and read these words? Are these choices also part of the script?

(I'm assuming that the “script writer” is some unknown part of nature. This may itself be debatable, but such a debate should not affect what I've written, I think)

To decipher which takes precedence, i.e., the effect or its cause has been a matter of confusion throughout. (Chicken or egg?) Ultimately, it drops down to a matter of perspective. One perspective considers that the human mind has the power of volition, i.e., the power to choose an action, and not depend on what is supposed to be an instinctive response. We choose to analyse before we act on anything. And that analysis decides our action. The other perspective considers that any analysis occurs purely because it has been made to occur. It claims that nothing is in the hands of the human. Not even the direction of thought.

In either perspective, there is thought. In one you can change your own thought, and in the other your thought changes on its own accord. Those who consider that they can change their actions to yield better results seek to control their time. Those who don't may as well let their thoughts flow as they should, and let time control what happens. Any scientific approach would favour an attempt to minimize uncertainty. For that, an assumption must be made that the uncertainty can be decreased.

Controlling time does not mean slowing down seconds or speeding them up. Nor does it mean controlling all the events that occur at an instant. It means acting on events that occur in such a manner that a set of tasks that we can achieve within a stipulated time, are completed smoothly. Unexpected events may occur. These only improve our abilities to react to them. If we had infinite time and resources, all tasks would get completed at some time or the other(a little bit of stretched speculation, maybe!). Completing them within constraints requires planning and “efficient control” of time available.

Monday, February 06, 2006

GNU/Linux Intro: The whats and hows...

Here's my first post on my blog dedicated to GNU/Linux and Open Source Software. The URL may mislead you to think that it's about a new distribution of Linux, but that is not the case. It's basically an attempt to reach out the newbies of GNU/Linux and guide them on what GNU/Linux is, why it is, and how to make use of it.

I'd like to make a mention here... I'm not deep into GNU/Linux myself. I use only GNU/Linux on my system, and seek out solutions for everything I do... there's a whole world out there. Since I use the OS and its software the way I do, many of my friends have asked me in the past for brief intros to it, and where to start up. So this blog is an attempt to address such matters.

To start with, GNU/Linux is an Operating System. It could be installed as the sole OS on a harddisk, or could be installed along with another OS, such as DOS, Microsoft Windows, MacOS, etc. with a dual-boot menu appearing whenever the computer starts up.

Everytime I refer to GNU/Linux, it implies two major components:

1. the Linux "kernel", which handles the core interaction with the hardware(and includes core operating system functions such as scheduling, memory management, I/O, etc. as well as device drivers for the hardware)

2. The GNU Software which allows actual user interaction via the shell and/or a graphical user interface(XWindows)

Conventionally, when you need to acquire GNU/Linux, you have to get a "distribution" of it. These are like different "flavours" of GNU/Linux. In other words, different companies or organisations put together the Linux kernel, different choices of GNU Software and other software under different forms of licensing. They make their flavour available under a name, some freely, and some for a cost. Typically, the cost is either for the media through which you receive the OS, or for support that they will provide for their flavour.

Some common flavours are:
1. RedHat Enterprise Linux
2. Fedora Core Linux
3. Mandrake Linux
4. Ubuntu Linux
5. SuSe Linux
6. Xandros Linux
7. Debian Linux
8. Progeny Debian Linux
9. Knoppix
10. Damn Small Linux

There are actually hundreds of distributions of GNU/Linux currently available. My next post will be on the whys of GNU/Linux

Friday, February 03, 2006


There's never enough... for one who doesn't know how to manage his time carefully...
There always too much... for one who either does close to nothing, or manages his time meticulously.

There's just enough... for someone who just about manages his time.
Time can be squeezed and stretched. It's like rubber-band. But what makes that possible is not the physical quantity that we call time, but the strength of the mind. (Maybe another blog on the mind later! I love that topic too!)
Now, we tend to divide time into three: past, present, future. Why do we divide it? What makes these three parts so significant? Is one more important than the other?

Well, it finally varies from person to person... But one might say certain weightages for these parts may be preferable. For instance, there's no use in spending all of the present thinking about the past or the future, because then we are left with no present! On the other hand, there is generally so much beauty we can find in the past that it feels nice to dedicate a little time to dwell on it. And the mistakes in the past might be recalled and kept in mind, so as not to repeat the same in the future.

The future itself, requires a good amount of planing in the present. Finally, to give a direction and meaning to life, we should know where we're headed. Ever planned a holiday trip without knowing where you're going? Not a wise idea. Unless it was only planning and you never implemented it.

So we would have spent some of the past saving some of it for the present. Similarly, we'll spend some time in the present saving it for the future. After all, some moments are just so precious that they are worth looking at again and again. But if you dedicate your present to just preserving, you're left with no present, no past and no future!

Time is such a beautiful thing available to us. Most management gurus will say Time=Money. Though that can be proved, none would deny that Money is just one of the many things time can give us. Like the time you have spent reading this blog. It didn't pay you back. Nor did my time pay me back while writing it. But we did it for something beyond material gains. (Again leave this for a future blog!)

Therefore, value time and learn to use it well!!! And I wish you all the best in your attempts.

GNU/Linux! GNU/Linux! GNU/Linux!

Freedom!!!!!!!!! I love freedom!!!!!!!!!
An hence I shall seek a form of components for my computational, processing and manipulation machine which gives me my share of freedom!
English translation: I try to find software for my computer which allows me to use, distribute and modify FREELY!
Let me tell you how it all started...
I actually started using computers in 1992/93. Our first machine was a 386. Yeah, that's right. We had Windows 3.11 installed on it. Since then, we've made upgrades, and changes of OS, and right now at home we use Win XP. But it so happened that my bro, over time(as he was doing his engg), started to fiddle around with GNU/Linux. Being the little fan of my bro that I am, I started trying it too. :-)
So when my bro got me this new laptop of mine, it had Win XP and Redhat Linux 6.2 or so installed. Now, it was in about March 2005, I guess, that the guru of Free Software dropped into Hyd. And he told us about the three freedoms. (If you're lost on this, I suggest you search up the GNU website and find out! It's awesome!). I came back to my room, and scrapped Windows. :-)
I'm currently blogging from my laptop(my sweetheart!) which has Fedora Core 4, and Ubuntu 5.10 installed. And I've got solutions so far to everything I've wanted to do! I keep fiddling around with the proc subsystem to check out what's happening to my battery. And run my laptop as a server.
Lets just sum it up to say I love GNU/Linux! Boy, I'm looking forward to Fedora Core 5!!!!!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Every end leads to a new beginning...

What a title, don't you think? I'm feeling mighty proud of it! Well, ok. Let me get down to the topic now... (despite the fact that my feeling of "pride" is taking a temporary halt, only to pop back up, when I finish writing this blog! Just like the topic says!)

First, lets put down fundamentals. A beginning is when something not existing at one instant starts to exist in a successive instant. (Not from the dictionary, so please don't penalise me for it!). An end is when something existing at one instant seizes to exist in a successive instant.

Lets take this blog for instance. It ends after a few lines. Or maybe a few more lines. But it does end. That starts thoughts in your mind, maybe? Or, makes you move to another site. Or makes you post back(please do!).

Life is full of examples of the same. A semester ends. The vacation starts. The vacation ends. The semester starts. Then the semester...(Break!). Then I graduate. Then I go for a job... Or further studies. I hope you get the point.

Now a question arises... what happens after life? Are we stuck on this one? Lets see... I think I should try to define life before proceeding. Scientifically, it's basically a groups of molecules under a set of conditions interacting in a specific way to result in certain features such as growth, reproduction, etc. which we classify as characteristics of life. If any of the conditions isn't satisfied, we state it as lifeless. So when we “die” those characteristics are not being satisfied. However, the molecules are still there. And they are reused by some other organisms which are, so to speak, “living”, and change into another form. Kindly do note here, that I'm speaking at a purely physical level. Leaving out spirituality and metaphysics, and so on. We can leave those for a later blog. ;-).
Now, once they change form, they start new reactions. And, probably, do finally get involved in maintaining life of another form.

If we move yet another step, we could wonder what would happen when the human race gets extinct. I guess you must be following on now and expecting me to justify it by leading to another species. If you're lost, bored or not convinced, you're welcome to comment so. I shall try to cater to your needs in some other blog!

Great! If you're with me so far, we're getting along well! I'll move on to analyse what would happen if the world ends... To move a little fast, let's just check out what might get harder to explain. World... Solar System... Galaxy... Universe... Aha! Universe! There's a tough one! Can we define the end of the universe? Can we define the beginning of the universe? Such a definition doesn't appear to be in existence in the physical world. (Unless you try looking at things at the level of Stephen Hawking!) Hence, I shall postpone such a discussion to a later stage when I am well-versed with such topics. However, it may have no practical implications on our lives, and that was probably the reason general sciences don't delve deep into it.

Another important word to put in here... The reason the above blog appears so simple and valid(at least to me!) is based on the fact that the title itself is very vague! After all, all limits on theorems can be proved only under certain constraints! Remove the constraints, and there is no limit!

Life is Bliss!

Life is Bliss

Times come. And times go.
And I'm the happiest anyone could know.
I walk with a big smile on my face,
With that feeling nothing can replace.
The days are fine, the nights get better.
While I read through my old friend's letter.
After it's over, I gladly blink.
And once again I think...

Of the days we used to test our parent's cool.
Every morning, we'd anxiously rush to school.
And learn the world in that small room.
Come out and watch the flowers bloom.

Of the days we used to run around and play.
Every afternoon, in the old grass field we'd stay.
And enjoy every bit of our mid-day snack.
And happily jogging we'd all come back!

Of the days we went to that old Park Fair.
Every evening, at the old Giant Wheel we'd stare.
And try every ride that we hadn't before.
And spend lots of time at the Cotton Candy store.

Of the days we'd gobble mom's home delicacies.
Every night, at the old family table we'd squeeze.
And end every meal with a delightful dessert.
And drag mom to the room, for a pre-bedtime concert.

Of the days, when daddy would spend the whole day home!
Every Sunday, in the living room we'd all, like nomads, roam.
And play about with toys, and all kinds of games.
And run to dad when we started calling each other names!

And some things don't change, they just stay how they were.
Coz now I'm in college but the distances do blur,
When we go for vacation, and its all just the same.
We're all together again playing that same old game!

Times never change. What can change is us.
Don't waste your time making a big fuss.
Blend your life round to be what it should be.
And you'll always love life, and smile up in glee!