Why intelligence?

Intelligence. Humungous leaps in everything. Equally big leaps towards the end.

This is something I have always wondered about. Why did humans have to have this all-conquering knowledge? Every other living thing on this planet have an intelligence that seems much lower than an average human's. (Let's not talk about those ultra-smart monkeys we see on NatGeo). Every form of life lives and dies, worrying only about surviving. Finding food to survive, finding protection to survive.

What quirk of evolution created this monstrous intelligence in us? The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that this was a ploy in evolution's game. Evolution does not always get things right the first time. There is always some anomaly that would need to be corrected. The mistake does not manifest immediately. The bug takes ages to surface. That is why evolution needs a restart once in a while; to set right the wrong.

Until now, these restarts appear to have been triggered only by natural causes - the Ice Age, the asteroid collision that ended the dinosaur age and many others that have gone unnoticed. So this time nature thinks up of an interesting way. Man gets super-intelligence. Human intelligence is evolution's way of ensuring that the cycle of life restarts from scratch yet again.

Its disguised as something that would help man better his life. It does provide him all the comfort that he can dream of. But on the sidelines, unnoticed, the darker side creeps along. Some people do notice the darkness, but the majority don't and the majority always wins. Everything that the intelligence was used to create added comfort to man's already pampered life. But on every one of them, piggy-backed, arrives a new step towards the end. There come the pollution, the weapons, the man-induced natural disasters. Marching steadily, camouflaged beyond recognition. When they do get spotted, it is already too late.

Someday, the cursed intelligence would have ushered in enough to push the restart button. And the world will be reset once again and the clock rewound yet again for a new cycle to begin. There may not be any human-like life in the new cycle. But again, there could be one.

What if humans had not evolved from the cave-man? What if our intelligence was limited like in other animals? Limited to surviving skills. Limited to knowing what can be eaten and what shouldn't be, learning to run when attacked. The world would have been a better place, wouldn't it? Well, wouldn't evolution then have found some other method to perform the routine maintenance shutdown? It would have! In any case, that would have been better than the slow poison that human intelligence is.

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Nature's fury

May those souls rest in peace....

There are people in other parts of the world, to whom tsunamis and earthquakes are known things. But not so in India and a few other 'safe' countries shored in the Indian Ocean. This Sunday (26 December, 2004) an earthquake in the depths of the Indian Ocean trigerred a series of tragic deaths in various parts of Asia. It was a pebble in the pool effect, but of an unimaginable magnitude. Like a giant boulder, miles across in girth, dropped into the ocean.

The earthquake was measured on the richter scale at 8.9, in the epicenter. That is big considering that it is the hugest earthquake in recent years. The quake churned the ocean to create a wave of destruction. What news channels initially streamed as a 'mild' tremor, transformed into a gory tale with the coming of the tsunamis.

Current estimates put the toll at a lot more than 20000 world-wide. Fishermen, out to eke their living, never returned. Children, out for a game on the beach, were washed off the face of the earth. People living near the sea, were left homeless, foodless and in many cases lifeless.

Nature showed her brutal side across SriLanka, India (especially the Andaman & Nicobar Islands), Thailand, Indonesia and other countries in the Indian Ocean.

Let those left behind, have the strength to move on.

Visit http://tsunamihelp.blogspot.com/ to know more about how you can help those that survived.

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have been using Thunderbird and Firefox for long since their 0.x releases. Don't use IE unless absolutely necessary.

Thunderbird 1.0 is simply awesome with features like Group By Sort, Saved Search Folders, Image blocking, the RSS reader. Good interface with goody functionality. Cannot compare with the MS Outlook cos have never tried using it. I have heard that Outlook has calendar support, but I don't use the calendar for anything, so doesn't make too much sense.
Image blocking prevents images in HTML mail from auto-loading. Speeds up mail retrieval and uncluttered mail.
The RSS reader is amazing. Now I get to see updates to Blogs, news headlines from multiple sources (I read news from rediff , tried indiatimes but their news sucks as always) . All without having to fire up a browser.
I am yet to enable the junk filter on 1.0 but it worked well on 0.9x versions. I am sure it should work as well as 0.9x, if not better.

There are some very minor fixes needed on the s/w. Nothing that is troublesome.

What r u waiting for? Zip to http://www.mozilla.org/ and learn for urself. And try Firefox too, u'll never want to touch IE with a long pole.

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Promiscuous verse

Imagine, the engine binging on an endless stockpile of coal,
He munches and then crunches to retch out a spew of smoke.

Huffing and puffing he runs up the bluff to the end of the road,
Willing to killing himself and the wailing people aboard.

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Bad start...

Interesting way to start a day! First I had two crazy horn-huggers. These two kept honking all over the road, irrespective of whether there were people ahead of them or not. Then, traffic jams all around my building. Tried 4 different routes and all of them were blocked. People standing still, mostly in the wrong lanes. Where did these blokes leave their common-sense? When will they learn to be patient for an extra minute or two and stay on their side of the road? Imagine looking at a scene where there are cars standing nose-to-nose with a bus. Damn, I wish I had a bull-horn that I could use to put some sense into these block-heads or atleast leave them with a buzz in their ears.

Now that the venom has been extracted, let me get back to work!

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Emigration Check Not Required!

Just a couple of stamps (the ink type), a scrawled signature and some writing. That's ECNR. It took me four hours in a queue, 5 minutes to collect the passport later and more than 2 hours of riding in traffic, to get the ECNR clearance.

Inspite of warnings from friend Debu, I left home only at 7 am. I couldn't have left earlier as it was freezing cold even then. Well, got to the Passport office, 45 minutes later, only to face a snaking queue of people. Better than 75 people already ahead of me. The office opens at 9:30 am, a good 1 hour 45 minutes from then. Got in line and cursed my not carrying some reading material.

Ahead of me a family was discussing some "family" matters. Didn't exactly hear what they spoke, but the tone and the few words I caught, showed a small tussle going on. That was fun. Like watching a movie where you don't understand the accent but get the general drift. Interesting way to spend the morning. A little while later, my attention caught a hawk (?) shredding apart his morning meal (a mouse I think). Watched the hawk until the mouse lost all its skin. The scene was turning too bloody for me. Just then a mother-monkey walked up to the wall, by the side of which our queue stretched. Did I mention that the gates weren't yet open? Anyway mother-monkey solemnly watched her oddly-shaped cousins standing there waiting for the gates to open. Mother-monkey's look read complete lack of interest. After some relative watching mother-monkey decided to get back to work and left us.

I noticed that some birds were hopping around on the trees around. They were right over our heads and we looked easy target for their droppings. That made me uneasy. I couldn't wait in the queue with bird poop on me. I just kept praying that the birds were all done with their morning chores. Fortunately, lady luck was with me!

A few minutes later, the gates opened to let us folks in. To form another queue inside the compound. God, this was crazy. Well, we had more entertainment waiting for us. This time, a lady and her husband were in the queue. The lady found a spot to sit. But it was a little behind her position in the queue. She left the hubby in the queue and sat down at the spot. The people standing and sitting in the queue around that position mistook this. They thought she was gate-crashing and began to make a hue and cry. The lady tried to explain to those crazy people that she was ahead in the queue and that her husband was keeping her place in the line. Crazy people are crazy because they are tired of the waiting. Her explanation goes unheard and the crazy people just keep bickering. Somehow the lady keeps her cool and continues undettered. I really admired that.

After that show was over, I switched to watching this very cute little kid. The kid must have been only a few months into walking. The kid danced, ran, fell and ran a lot. It was quite amusing to watch its antics. Every now and then, the kid would try to run off to the outside and the dad had to run after it. Children know how to bring some fun to the most tiring place.

Finally, the officials streamed in and we were let into the building for some more waiting. We had chairs to sit on this time. Cool. Slowly our procession of people moved to the head of the line and were attended to. The whole lousiness here was that there were no instructions or check lists to be found anywhere. People were sent away to get this and that after they reached the counter and tried to put in their application. This was frustrating both for the staff as well as the applicants. To me, it looked completely ridiculous. Some people had to return to the counter five or six times, to get everything in place. One simple check list along with the application form would have saved all the misery.

Lo! It was my turn. While in the queue, I had run out to the nearest copier to get copies of everything i needed and didn't need. In duplicate. Turned out that I didn't need most of the copies. Well, success never tasted bitter. Phew! End of ordeal.

P.S: I went in the evening to pick up the passport with the stamp. My name was called out just as I enetered. I was in and out in a matter of five minutes. Thank god for such big mercies.

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3 second adrenaline rush

There is a small stretch of road that leads to the Commerce@Mantri building (that's where my org works out of). This length of tarmac is relatively smoother and very less trafficked than the other roads I traverse in my daily commute. This is where I get my daily dose of high revving speed runs.

I slow down into first gear as I turn onto this piece of road. If there is traffic on the road, I ditch my rush and proceed at the same sedate pace. If not it's a go. Revving hard, I move the bike into the higher reaches of the rev band. My revvo quit a long time, so no absolute figures. Just take it that the bike makes a hell of a noise (much lesser than the cans, though) and turns into a edgy, nervy 16+ horse chariot. It is all over in a few seconds. I shift through only till the fourth (or sometimes the third) gear. But it is one hell of a great feeling and leaves me ready for the day.

It helps to spit the venom from the rush-hour traffic, the incorrigible signal breakers and the plainly stupid fellow road users! For those few moments, I don't have a bloke trying to cut across. For those few meters, I don't have potholes to avoid. Well technically, there is one very small hole, but not directly in my path.

That's my 3 second adrenaline rush!!

P.S: I wear always my helmet, almost always my jacket and shoes, and sometimes gloves.

Me and my bike below >>>>>

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Bike and Me! Posted by Hello

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Volley of a time!

I haven't played a proper volley-ball match after school. Without surprise, I jumped at the chance to play for Oracle in the Genie Inter-corporate tournament. Wow, a tournament after almost 6 years. Our team included - Vipul (our kaptan), Shailendra, Arvind, Madhu, Nagraj, Binish, Jaiganesh , Navaneeth, Sekar and I. The team configuration was to be 6 players plus 3 reserves. Vipul, generously, chose to be the non-playing captain.

The teams were divided into 3 groups and Oracle was in Group C, a group that was almost on par with us. Some of the teams like the ones from Accenture BPO, Tata Teleservices, Sasken and Bosch were outright professional outfits. They were in other groups and we would get to meet one of them only in the next round.

Our first match was against Ittiam. A pretty good team, except that they lacked the co-ordination that we could garner and more importantly the cool that we exuded. We sweeped both the sets, but not without a fight. The scores were 25-16 and 25-23. Special credit needs to go to Nagraj. Not so long out of college and with all the skills of a college team player, he helped us through the match. And to Sekar, who was our all-round player and always well in control. The second set was close but Ittiam never found the cool that we had. By the end of the match, our team had bonded well and we were sufficiently co-ordinated.

The next match was almost 3 hours later. The gang finished lunch and decided to stretch our legs, at the risk of losing our legs. Yeah, that's right, cos the best place we found to relax was the divider on the internal road with an occasional vehicle trying to run over us. Shailendra even made up the headlines for the next day's papers - "Oracle plays so well that they lose their legs".

Our opponents, Axa, made it just in time. Axa seemed better than Ittima, but we were stoned by our new-found rhythm and that made a difference. The lunch and the long wait had dulled our senses a bit. It took us a while to get into the game, but soon we were cruising along. And another clean sweep. Two sets to nil; 25-x and 25-x . The match saw many long rallies and as Vipul later pointed out we won 10-out-of-10 on every long rally.

Day two was to be the exact opposite of the previous day. We didn't know this then, nor after the first match. The first match of the day was our last league match and against LogicaCMG. Statistically, we didn't have to win that match to advance to the next round. Knowing that made us let our guard down, a bit and we couldn't ever get back on track. LogicaCMG won against us in three sets. The score-board read: 25-16, 17-25 , 9-15. We did put up a good fight towards the end. Well, we were through to the semi-finals anyway.

The semi-final match was against Hughes - a controlled team that emerged the surprising leader of Group B. We were determined to win the match and our spirits were up. But to our own surprise we never got into the game. Hughes won by straight sets. x-25, 16-25.

Our reach-the-final dream was shattered. But we made it to the semis with almost nil practice. That put is in the top four out of the 12 represented teams. That was quite an achievement. It had been two days of unbirdled fun. Though we weren't satisfied, we went home pleased with ourselves and with rock-hard stiff bodies :-). As they say, there is always a next time, a next tournament. The hunger lingers!

Three cheers to the Oracool team.

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How ordered is the world? How random is the world? Questions anybody can ponder on! Well, answers are hard to come by. When you look deep into something, some event, you could spot a million connections to things that have happened or will. Like the neural network. Every impulse seems to simulate other impulses. Every impulse seems to be simulated by others.

The connections are not one-to-one. They are many-to-many. One impulse can be simulated by one of the many other impulses linked to it. A glass vase breaks when you drop it to the floor. You drop it to the floor when your hand loses grip (or) when you throw it deliberately (or) so on. Your hand loses grip when your palm sweats (or) your hand is paralysed (or) you are shocked (or) so on. It goes on and on.

Did you notice that this is where the randomness exists? The randomness is in the path taken by an impulse to get to the impulse currently executing. Or it so appears. How do we know if this is random at all? What if there is a control that determines which path is open from node A to node B? What if there is a control that enables or disables nodes as it pleases? What determines the source impulse of the entire sequence. Is there such a thing as a source at all?

Ponder on, fellow node in the network scheme of things. If you think you know the answer or have clues log it into the comments!

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Surprising Discovery!!

My laptop has an internal mic. I never knew this. Maybe all laptops have them.... Wow!! This is how I happened to discover it.
My guitar has been out of tuning for months. A long time I downloaded this software, AP Guitar Tuner. Well, I thought I couldn't use it unless I get a mic or a pick-up socket (whatever-that-is-called).
Last night while playing some music on my laptop, I just happened to start up the software and I saw that the meter display fluctuated in tune with the music. Next, I turned off winamp and tapped around, whistled in a high-pitch and generally shouted and the tuner picked up these sounds as well. Wow!!! Then, I fired up the measly Sound Recorder that ships with Win2K and recorded my voice... Cool stuff.

By the way, the tuner is a great way to tune your guitar. Atleast it is for less endowed people like me. I could never for my life tune my guitar.. Damn! Got to learn that someday...

And this is my guitar...

My guitar Posted by Hello

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To the moon and back (almost)

It was the first ever time I entered an airplane. I was 24 years, 12 days old when I did that. The evening was on the 22nd of November, 2004. An interview for an Italian visa awaited me in Mumbai the next day. I was flying from Bangalore, with a colleague. I didn't know how the whole thing would turn out, but I had heard enough stories of people scared to fly. I was prepared for the worst. Our hostesses were always smiling and each one of them made it a point to wish every passenger. Must be such a taxing job to keep that smile on.

At 08:45 in the night, the plane began to taxi down to the runaway. I was at the window and a little behind the wing. It was an awesome sight to see such a huge contraption moving. The plane aligned to the runway and then the engines began to cycle up. Suddenly the plane was hurtling down the runway, the marker lights flashing by. In a few seconds, the plane lifted up gently and the land was falling away. Very soon, all I could see where groups of lights, creating a humungous geometrical pattern. If only photography had been allowed. It is such a shame to not let people capture such a glorious view.

Finally the plane levelled out. By then, the land beneath looked a glittering jewel with narrow designs cut into it. The navigator anounced that we were 36000 feet(I think) above sea level. Wow! Sadly, the cabin lights were switched on and I had to cup my hands over the window to see the sight below. Around 10:15, we were nearing Mumbai. The plane made a wide arc to prepare for landing. It was such a graceful move. The wing gradually lifts up and then the plane turns away. To imagine such a mammoth doing this would have been incredible, to see it being so delicate like a ballerina, was unimaginable.

Mumbai was an astonishing sight from the plane. I cannot find the words to describe what I saw. Shimmering lights arranged in some unnaturally beautiful pattern. The water bodies creating lovely patterns among the lights. Gosh, it was out of the world. Again, i cursed the government for not allowing photography. And then we were rushing down towards the earth. The buildings became distinctly visible and highlighting the speed we were travelling at. Landing was not as discreet as the take-off. I could feel the tires banging down on the ground beneath. So that was my first plane ride and I felt wonderful.

I thought,then,that a day flight would not be as interesting as a night one. But the next day, I was proved wrong. When we left Mumbai, the next afternoon at 4:00 PM, I could see a translucent, dark layer covering the whole city as if to hide the hidden treasures beneath us. We were up and flying away from the ground. I saw a gorgeous plateau (the deccan plateau, I guess) stretched out below. I had seen such photographs on National Geographic. To see them live was too good to be true. I never thought India had so much of uninhabited (well almost) terrain.

Looking down it appeared as if the plane weren't moving at all, inspite of the ground speed of 830-odd kmph (800 kmph, can you believe that) the pilot announced. I felt like we were hanging there mid-air tied to some supernatural rope. And the sky looked so pretty. Yes, pretty is the best word I can find to describe it. Directly below, there was a layer of glass-like cover with fluffy clouds floating around like icecream on a transparent plate. This layer met the sky at a point that was blindingly bright white. And from there the sky's colour was a gradient. First, the lightest green-blue I have ever seen. Next, true sky blue and later a deep bright blue. Like a fading bindi on a woman's foreahead, a half moon hung a little way up in the sky. Pretty. The clouds below us then were the fluffiest you could ever imagine. From up there, they looked like snow capped mountains. We were near Bangalore and the plane gradually started to lower. We cut through the clouds slowly, very slowly. I kept thinking that we were going to slice the cloud mountains into a million pieces. For a few moments we were completely wrapped by the clouds. I could see nothing out the window, and wondered how the pilot knew where he was going. And then I was back on earth.

Only one thought lingered. If a mere plane ride were so very beautiful, how would it feel to be out there in outer space peeping out of a port-hole at the blue earth suspended to nothing?

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24 years...

...in this world. Life has been good. No actual complaints, though I keep grumbling about things. There have been troubles and worries, but an equal measure of good things to balance the bad out. I am contended, though I might speak otherwise.

Where am I going? I don't know. Nobody knows for sure. The future is what will happen and it will be what will happen. Is there a schedule for things to happen? Is whatever happens and whatever is to happen, already put down on paper like in a movie script? I do not know. I do not know if anybody else knows.

Long days and lovely nights, Sais.

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Axioms of the compensation package

Had some time to utilise and here's what I produced. Dunno if this is relevant everywhere though...

1) Every announced increase in compensation has an opposite, negating correction in the form of restructuring, realigning and other miscellaneous tools of deception. The correction will either nullify the increase or induce a decrease as dictated by the whims of higher management.

2) As a direct consequence of the first law, the salary drawn remains a constant throughout, even with varying factors of inflation, job levels and years in work.

3) Change is the only constant. And change always aims to demoralise and underpay the consultants.

Yeah, yeah. I can hear you say - "What crap!"

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Off on vacation from tomorrow.

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wat the heck do I hv to say?


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