Life Of Navin

Random Musings, Random Bullshit.


2010 - The Best Year Of My Life (So Far!)

OK, this is my officially my last post for 2010, a year that I shall cherish as the best year of my life (so far)! Tonnes of awesome stuff happened in the 12 months that passed by, both on screen and off of it!

As always, end-sem/end-year is a time of nostalgia for me, and looking back at the year that's gone by, here's a list of some crazy stuff that happened this year in the Life Of Navin!

The People: Sooo many awesome people I've met this year.... I mentioned some of them in this earlier blog post, but they all certainly deserve a second mention! The world is so extremely large, yet so small, at the same time. Both on and off-campus, I met the good, the bad, and the plain weird, and really connected with people on so many different levels. Reconnected with old friends, got back in touch with old crushes, made new enemies... what more could I ask for?

February 2010
: One word: AWESOMENESS (Why? More Why? More More Why?)

My Semester Bucket List: Ended up managing to complete 14 of the 20 things listed! Could've probably done a few more, but I'm happy with what I've got! :)

The Politics: In a single year, I feel like I've taken the leap into politics, perhaps one of the reasons being the fact that I was elected General Secretary of the Computer Science students body CURSOR. I had a weird confrontation with some friends (well, I only knew one of them), who're members of the Students Wing of a certain famous political party, over the post of University Rep of college. I still don't know exactly who our University Rep is (I've heard it's some guy from Civil who is there as a puppet representative), but I seriously hope he/she is fit for the post, because it is a post of major responsibility, and the solutions to quite a few problems in our college can be addressed only by him/her.

Random Bullshit I'm Proud Of: Tonnes of stuff to list here:
  • Scoring a mark (yes, singular) in an internal test
  • Walking around campus at 5 in the morning
  • Staring at a PC monitor blankly for 3 hours with an awesome friend by my side
  • Discussing "proper" Rock music with a girl
  • Speaking to someone on the phone for over 2 hours straight
  • Managing the whims and fancies (some of them legitimate) of an entire class to pull of an awesome inauguration ceremony for CURSOR
  • Downloading the entire discography of multiple bands, just because I like 1-2 songs by them
  • Being woken up by a kick on my butt.... and a hard one at that!
  • Being woken up by her phone call
  • Waking her up with an early morning phone call
  • Quitting Facebook
  • Travelling all alone to Pune for a conference
  • Being a part of Technix 4.0, PhotoFlare, Twestival Goa, Tandav etc.
  • Getting CLUSTR off the ground (More on this next year!)
  • Getting my Drivers License
  • Getting thrown out of the college library
  • Being called a Casanova (yeah, me! :P)
  • The crazy Kachori eating session me and some friends had on campus
  • Sleeping in one of my department labs for an hour or so just before Technix
  • Managing to remain smoke-free and drink-free (It's a challenge in college, really is!)
  • The Random behind-the-scenes help provided by friends and teachers, which unfortunately very few people know about and appreciate
  • Some other stuff that remains with me for the time being! ;)
All the stuff that happened in 2010 has affected me, for good or for bad, and has helped me become the person I am today. 2010 has delivered all that could be expected from it. 2011, you have have your work cut out for you! Hope you manage to deliver! :)

P.S. I leave on a family tour on the 24th, and return on the 2nd! So here's wishing everyone a Super Awesome Christmas and a Mindblastingly Kickass New Year! :)

Venn I Suck, I Suck!

The reason why I hate John Venn is the intersection of childhood irritation his diagrams caused and Venn diagrams on Tumblr Always be yourself... unless you suck -Joss Whedon

Kiddin' Around!

Honestly, this post is complete nonsense!

U me katti no no,
Me no katti u
This all makes no sense to me,
Does this make sense to u?
Me was sleepy bye bye,
So me no msgs see
N when me wake up fresh fresh,
Saw 12 msgs fr me!
Now me to Tanika say say,
Me lyk u very much
Now random fact me say say,
Vodafone was once called Hutch
Now me be saying shit shit,
Infact shit from a bull
Or bullshit as me call it,
Me has gone mad full
If me keep say say bullshit,
Me'll be banned, that's a fact
So me just say say Good Night
to Limbu from my Max

Poem Backstory:
I'm pretty sure none of the above made sense, so a backstory is definitely necessary!

Basically, I have this extremely crazy, super-awesome, junior friend named Tanika...
Always smiling, eternally blissful, and completely mad (she's easily one of the whackiest friends I have!). She's my 'Baby Pishe', and whenever we talk, it actually is like two kids talking to each other!

Our semester exams are going on (yes, I'm updating my blog during my sem exams! :) ), and we both have exams on alternate days, but I have papers on days she doesn't (and vice versa).

Right after my first paper, once I got back home, I did what us half-baked engineers do best during exams, sleep! And when I woke up, there were over a dozen messages from Tanika, reminding me to wish her Best of Luck for her exams the next day!

Why would someone remind me that? Well, simply because I have memory of a goldfish... I actually had a friend who called me up at 11:55 one night, just to remind me that it was her birthday the next day (in 5 mins) and I'd promised that I'd call her up at midnight! :)

Anyway, the last message from Tanika was:

me no lyk u.. u no nyc.. u no wish me afta yaad karofying olso..
me u angyy.. me no tok u.. me u, katti fu!! :( :( :(

If you grew up in India and still don't know what 'Katti Fu' is, you may as well go hang yourself!

Anyway, my reply to her message is what you read above!

I know, even with this huge backstory, it's still nonsense, but I totally felt like a kid while typing that out! And that's exactly the kind of craziness I needed to get me back to studying my prehistoric portion!

Ah, One more thing. Me and Tanika are connected by our weird phones.... I have a Micromax, and she has a Lemon (Limbu!) cellphone ... hence the last line! :)

Related: God(dess) Mode

Planning My Luck!

I have a gut feeling that most gals already know this! The Commonwealth games weren't planned with as much precision as the planning us guys do to "arrange" a chance meeting with that special someone !

Teh Internetz Iz Awesome! :)

There are many reasons why I love the internet, and the following story is simply one of those reasons!

It all started out this morning when I saw the new Airtel 3G Voice Calling advertisement for the first time, and instantly fell in love with it. And being the twitter addict that I am, the first thing I did was tweet it!

Here is the advert:

Over the next 20 minutes or so, I watched the advert on loop, and besides the awesome concept and brilliant execution, what really touched me was the background music. I messaged a few symphony addicted friends of mine, asking if they recognized the music, but each person gave me the same reply- NO! A small ray of hope came from my mom who said she remembered hearing this track somewhere, but couldn't remember exactly where.

Baah! I had to find out more about this song, by hook or by crook. The first thing I did was use to brilliant service Youtube2MP3 to get the track from the advert. Next up, I googled around a little and found this post that linked to a wide range of music recognition sites. I instantly started trying them out... but alas:

A check back on twitter revealed that people were suggesting methods to find the song. The most interesting tweet was by @dpreacher (Diabolic Preacher \m/).

Now I was totally stuck, with no leads on the song at all... and desperately hoping that one of my leads (including a post at WatZatSong ) would provide a lead. About 15 minutes later, I had a new reply on twitter :

Boo Yeah! There it was.... the exact same song used in the advert. Incase you are wondering, Ludovico Einaudi is a bigshot Italian composer/pianist and I Giorni (translation: The Days) is a track from his 2001 album of the same name. From then on, all I had to do was find a download for the song and download it (I almost never buy music online... sue me!:| )

Here is the song:

A comment seen on Youtube is very apt for this song:"I'm sure this song is in god's playlist."

Thanks to the internet, a few really helpful tools, and some awesome people (ofcourse, special mention of @dpreacher), I found the brilliant song that I may never have found otherwise!

Thanks to everyone involved in the process, from friends to fellow tweeps, to the amazing guys over at Shazam, besides the other tools which (didn't work for me but) seem awesome, and ofcourse the ever so powerful Google for strengthening my faith in the Internet as a community! :)

Remember, Remember The Fifth of November!

A desperate disease requires a dangerous remedy This 5th of November, let us vow to fight our oppressors, the scum who call themselves our leaders, the sewage in our system, the megalomaniacal sinners who live under the impression that they can control our minds.....

... or on the other hand, we could just watch V for Vendetta again, in all it's 1080p glory!

{Insert Fake Punch Sound Here}

If you can't guess this, you honestly don't deserve to live!Guess who A and B are! :)

Hint: A fight between A and B will be infinitely more epic than this!

RoR On Windows With XAMPP!

Ruby is an Object-Oriented language that was born in the mid-90's, but gained popularity in the early 2000's. As the creator of the language Matz puts it: "Ruby is about making coding natural, not simple". And once you get used to it, Ruby really begins to feel natural!

One reason for Ruby's popularity is undoubtedly Ruby on Rails aka RoR, an open source Web Development framework for Ruby. The power of RoR lies in it's simplicity and speed of development! Many popular websites like Twitter, Hulu, Scribd, and Github make use of RoR (see this).

One must note that Ruby != RoR. They're totally different!

Hopefully, this short intro has gotten you interested in Ruby and RoR. So let's see how to setup Ruby and RoR on Windows systems! Why Windows? Because the install procedure for Windows is a bit of a pain in the a** compared to the install procedure in Linux. For this article, I'll be using a system running Windows 7.

Anyway, here's what you need:
  • The latest version of Ruby Installer (Get it from here)
  • The latest version of XAMPP (Get it from here)
Ruby Installer is a compact package containing the entire Ruby setup and all it's dependencies. Another thing included in Ruby Installer is Ruby Gems, which is a package manager. (At it's simplest, Ruby Gems is like the Add/Remove programs feature in Windows.... except that it deals only with Ruby components/modules (which are called gems) ).

So let's get started shall we?
  1. Double Click on the Ruby Installer executable and install Ruby into C:\Ruby

  2. Double Click on the XAMPP executable and install XAMPP in C:\xampp
  3. Go to My Computer-> System Properties->Advanced System Settings

  4. Choose the Advanced tab and then click on Environment Variables

  5. Check if C:\Ruby\bin is present in the Path row. If not present, select the Path row, click edit, and add C:\Ruby\bin; at the start.

  6. Open a Command Prompt and do the following:

    C:\>ruby -v
    ruby 1.8.

    C:\>gem -v

  7. If you get this output (or something similar depending on the version of Ruby and RubyGem installed), you have Ruby and RubyGems installed successfully! So How about we get on the rails now, and install RoR?

    C:\>gem install rails --include-dependencies
    INFO: `gem install -y` is now default and will be removed
    INFO: use --ignore-dependencies to install only the gems you list
    Successfully installed rails-3.0.0
    1 gem installed
    Installing ri documentation for rails-3.0.0...
  8. Let us check if Rails is installed or not:

    C:\>gem list

    *** LOCAL GEMS ***

    abstract (1.0.0)
    actionmailer (3.0.0)
    actionpack (3.0.0)
    activemodel (3.0.0)
    activerecord (3.0.0)
    activeresource (3.0.0)
    activesupport (3.0.0)
    arel (1.0.1)
    builder (2.1.2)
    bundler (1.0.2)
    erubis (2.6.6)
    i18n (0.4.1)
    mail (2.2.7)
    mime-types (1.16)
    polyglot (0.3.1)
    rack (1.2.1)
    rack-mount (0.6.13)
    rack-test (0.5.6)
    rails (3.0.0)
    railties (3.0.0)
    rake (0.8.7)
    thor (0.14.3)
    treetop (1.4.8)
    tzinfo (0.3.23)

  9. Yeah! So we're all set with RoR! Now let's get XAMPP configured shall we? Go to C:\xampp\htdocs and create a new folder where your RoR project will reside. Let's name this folder Ruby.
  10. Now go to C:\xampp\apache\conf and open the file named httpd.conf with a text editor (I use Notepad++) and add the following right at the end of the file:

    Listen 3000
    LoadModule rewrite_module modules
    <virtualHost *:3000>
    ServerName rails
    DocumentRoot "c:/xampp/htdocs/ruby/public"
    <Directory "c:/xampp/htdocs/ruby/public/"

    Options ExecCGI FollowSymLinks
    Allow from all
    Order allow,deny
    AddHandler cgi-script .cgi
    AddHandler fastcgi
    -script .fcgi


    Note the DocumentRoot and Directory line.... they must have the correct path of the folder that you created.
  11. Now we shall see the power of RoR. Go to the Command Prompt and type in:

    C:\Ruby\bin>rails new C:/xampp/htdocs/ruby -d mysql
    create README
    create Rakefile
    create .gitignore
    create Gemfile
    create app
    create app/controllers/application_controller.rb
    create app/helpers/application_helper.rb
    create app/views/layouts/application.html.erb
    create app/mailers
    create app/models
    create config
    create config/routes.rb
    create config/application.rb
    create config/environment.rb
    create config/environments
    create config/environments/development.rb
    create config/environments/production.rb
    create config/environments/test.rb
    create config/initializers
    create config/initializers/backtrace_silencers.rb
    create config/initializers/inflections.rb
    create config/initializers/mime_types.rb
    create config/initializers/secret_token.rb
    create config/initializers/session_store.rb
    create config/locales
    create config/locales/en.yml
    create config/boot.rb
    create config/database.yml
    create db
    create db/seeds.rb
    create doc
    create doc/README_FOR_APP
    create lib
    create lib/tasks
    create lib/tasks/.gitkeep
    create log
    create log/server.log
    create log/production.log
    create log/development.log
    create log/test.log
    create public
    create public/404.html
    create public/422.html
    create public/500.html
    create public/favicon.ico
    create public/index.html
    create public/robots.txt
    create public/images
    create public/images/rails.png
    create public/stylesheets
    create public/stylesheets/.gitkeep
    create public/javascripts
    create public/javascripts/application.js
    create public/javascripts/controls.js
    create public/javascripts/dragdrop.js
    create public/javascripts/effects.js
    create public/javascripts/prototype.js
    create public/javascripts/rails.js
    create script
    create script/rails
    create test
    create test/performance/browsing_test.rb
    create test/test_helper.rb
    create test/fixtures
    create test/functional
    create test/integration
    create test/unit
    create tmp
    create tmp/sessions
    create tmp/sockets
    create tmp/cache
    create tmp/pids
    create vendor/plugins
    create vendor/plugins/.gitkeep

    If you now go to C:\xampp\htdocs\ruby, you should see something like this:

    These are all the files created automagically by RoR! Nice, ain't it?
  12. Start XAMPP and start the MySQL and Apache services:

  13. Open a browser (Read: Firefox! :) ) and type in http://localhost:3000 ... and you should see this page:

  14. That's it... you're now officially on the Rails! So now it's time to start developing you web apps with RoR!
  • Gems are, in my opinion, the most powerful feature of Ruby. Gems are like modules that can easily be used in any project. I'd urge you to head over to this site, which holds over 16500 Ruby gems. Installing any gem is the same procedure as Step 7. Just type in gem install [gemname] to download and install the gem. You will probably need gems like mysql (gem install mysql), sinatra (gem install sinatra) etc. for web app development.
  • Yes, I know this is NOT the only way to install RoR. But I use XAMPP for almost everything so have included it here as well! This procedure should ideally work with WampServer as well, as long as the paths are corrected.
  • By default, RoR assumes that your MySQL root password is absent. However if you have assigned a root password, you must change the database.yml file present in C:\xampp\htdocs\Ruby\config.yml . Also, RoR recommends the creation of 3 databases: One each for testing, development and production. By convention they are named as [projectname]_test,[projectname]_production and [projectname]_production. You will have to create these databases externally through MySQL or using rake db:migrate. If you prefer to use alternative names, simply modify the config.yml file with names of your choice!
  • RoR on Windows really is a bit of a pain, and may not even work the first time! Honestly, I believe any serious developer must be comfortable working in Linux, which is more suited to the need! RoR on Linux is a breeze and works great (if not better)!
So far, I'm having an awesome time on Rails and am looking forward to working more in RoR! Hope you too enjoy the trip on rails! :)

Site Design Memoirs: GEC Tandav!!

On the 1st and 2nd of October, we held our annual intra-college event Tandav, and being a Comp. Science student, I agreed to design the Tandav site, currently online at

The site, as with most of my recent web-dev projects, made use of Joomla, the super-awesome Open Source CMS. Less than a year ago, I had a hard time choosing between Joomla and Drupal, another open source CMS, but now I've totally become a Joomla fanboy! :)

Within minutes (literally), the basic framework for the site was set! Most of the site was meant to be static, and hence didn't really take much time to set up! Tandav is supposed to be a dark, fiery event, and as such the black-red colour scheme was a really simple decision.

After rounding up some pictures from DeviantArt and, and a little lameass photo-editing, the site header was ready. Some even more lameass photo-editing later, a set of 16 'Tandav Wallpapers' were ready! Credit for these also goes to Nikks, who created some of the less lameass walls! :)

An important part of the Tandav site each year is the 'Heartbeats' section, which while actually intended to be a place for people to declare their love for one another, always ends up as the online battleground for the six branches participating in Tandav to showcase their aggression (read: swear at each other). For the site, I used a modified version of the Phoca Guestbook component, modifying the Guestbook into a To-From-Message script. Hats off to the makers of the component for packing in so many features including a built-in CAPTCHA system (that too with different types of CAPTCHAs), which made my job really easy.

I got a few friends to test the site before I took it online, and thankfully everything worked perfectly!

Moderation of the 'Heartbeats', which, as expected, turned rapidly into 'Hatebeats', was a breeze, and despite loads of them being overtly vulgar/crude (yeah, even by my low standards!), moderation didn't take more than 10-15 minutes each night!

The site received loads of praise, both online and offline, and thankfully never went down! :)

Easter Eggs:
Being a hobby project, I took the liberty of adding some fun easter eggs and customisations into the Tandav site:

1) 404 Page (Click Here To See)
I don't really think anyone noticed this (thankfully), but the Tandav site had a custom 404 page!

Super Mario Bros. was a huge part of my childhood, and (according to my mom) the reason for interest in electrical gadgets that I have, and this was a small way of me showing the same! Also, more recently, Nikks talking constantly talking about playing Mario retro-style had implanted the Super Mario idea in my head! :)

2) The Sambhavi Shambavi Shambhavi conundrum
Last year, on the Tandav site, a bunch of jerks took the liberty of using the anonymity (?) provided by the site to repeatedly insult Shambhavi, who happens to be a good friend of mine, with extremely vulgar (yes, again, by my low standards) comments. And so she'd asked me to set up a 'Shambhavi' filter, which would filter out her name. And I did just that! On the Tandav site, anytime someone used the string 'shambhavi', '***' showed up instead of her name! :)

It was pretty funny once people realised such a filter had been set up, and then tried to circumvent it using alternative strings like 'sambhaavee'! :P

Thankfully though, the filter didn't have much use, as she was spared the online insults this time around!

3) The Konami Code
Like I've said before, have been thinking a lot about retro-gaming recently, and something that had always inspired me was The Konami Code, and after seeing a whole bunch of sites at KonamiCodeSites , I was convinced I needed to do something similar on the Tandav site. An hour or so of tweaking later, it was all ready to go!

Now if you go to the Tandav site and go up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-b-a, and wait for ~5 seconds, you should be seeing the entire source code of the page. Super cool, and uber-geeky= iLike! :)

There are some really awesome sites listed on KonamiCodeSites. Do check them out!

Overall, I had a lot of fun designing and maintaining the site, and strongly recommend my juniors to take it up as a mini-project next time around! Trust me, you'll learn more about Web tech in a few short weeks than you will in an entire semester of Web Tech classes! :)

Hostel Diaries- 7 Days Later!

7 days ago, I took a huge jump into something I'd personally been looking forward to for a looooong time! Assuming you've read the title of this post, I'm guessing you've figured out that the miraculous event was indeed that I got into Hostel! I've always personally felt that college life is incomplete without hostel life, and was actually looking forward to get my own room in the hostels of Goa Engineering College as soon as possible... so much so that this is even on my semester bucket list!! Anyway, here's a short recap of the week that was!

I got into hostel on the 28th, and straightaway headed to my new home for the next few months: Room 27, Hostel 4! The day went off great but was mainly spent setting stuff up in my room. Meh.

The hostel rooms are really comfortable. Even though they're on a 3-in-a-room basis, we have enough space to arrange the provided 3 study tables, chairs, and beds, and still have loads of free space! I've heard a lot about bad hostels/hostel rooms, but am glad that my hostel has no such horror stories to speak of!

One of my roommates, Rohan Hodarkar (a ubercool friend, a classmate, and treasurer in my council) arrived the next day. The third bed in the room is yet to be alloted to someone, and is meanwhile being used as a elevated dance floor! :)

The actual madness started on Sunday. I know people across the world love this day, but if you're in my college, Sunday is near-hell for you! Partly because many people head home for the weekend (most hostelites are Goans)! But more importantly because all the eateries on campus are closed! And that's like 7-8 oncampus eateries.... all CLOSED! Aaaaaah! I had to make do with black tea (made by a hostelite who'd carried tea powder but no milk :P ) in the morning. But then, almost like a Godsend, Umesh appeared. OK, so who is Umesh? Umesh is a supercool guy who owns a oncampus gaddo! He generally supplies overpriced, stale food cooked in unsanitary conditions, but on Sundays, he's no less than God! What he lacks in cleanliness, he makes up in character! Umesh is really an awesome guy.... loved and respected by every hostelite, so much so, that most of us now call him Umesh bhai! :)

So, long story short, Sundays on campus is basically an exercise in scavenging for food! (Trust me, 100 samosas were bought from that one gaddo in less than 15 mins time!)

Other days are pretty awesome! I love having my friends around me at all times, from 4 in the morning to 3:59 in the night! Our college campus is HUGE (over 200 acres) and my dream of actually seeing my campus is finally coming true! Not having a night check in time at the hostel is simply awesome! I've already made trips to the College back gate and an edge of the a huge field known on campus as Infinity grounds (because it seemingly stretched to infinity! :) ). I've roamed around campus at one in the morning, and watched a friend frantically try to get rid of ants in his room using a burning newspaper (really)! I've celebrated a two friends B'days with EPIC birthday bumps, and another friends b'day with a midnight surprise party! :)

My daily ritual of late night calls to certain individuals does continue, albeit with loads of distractions, including a orchestra (?) of friends who start singing Kuch Naa Kaho every time I pick up the phone! :)

I'm pretty sure you've heard that Absolute Zero cannot be achieved. That's a lie... it can, and has been achieved. Where? No, not in our labs, but in the bathrooms of my hostel. The water is so cold that it can actually freeze the balls off a brass monkey (an interesting story behind that quote incase you're interested)! So the hunt for hot water is always on! Somehow, over the week, I've kind of adjusted to the cold water, so that's no longer a big deal!

The lack of a television hasn't really affected me as badly as I thought it would! There's enough watching material here to last me a few lifetimes! And that's just the non-porno stuff! :) Infact, I feel, not being a TV addict has helped me utilize my time better! Being a total musicaholic, I love the fact that I can now blast music at full volume all the time! It's no longer odd to hear music from my room at 4 in the morning, something that was totally looked down upon at home! :)

I now totally understand what Dad meant all those times he asked me "Does money grow on trees?". The answer is dead simple. NO. And I realised it the hard way being stranded cashless till a friend bailed me out of the situation! All this in the last 7 days!

I've adjusted almost instantaneously to hostel life, and hope that the coming days continue to be just as eventful as the first week!

Till then you know where you can reach me: Room 27, Hostel 4! :)

P.S. The lovely pic at the start of this article is by my supertalented friend Achintya Kambli! When he's not trying to burn entire ant nests, he produces beauties like this! :)

God(dess) Mode!

When the goddess is angry, the mortals shall face her wrath!
When the goddess is sad, the world drowns in despair!
When the goddess is happy, flowers bloom, birds chirp, and the whole world smiles with her!
When the goddess is confused, kids start crying, fish start flying, and craziness rules the day!
When the goddess cries, the rivers rise, the desert undries, and the mortals feel the pain!
When the goddess loves, the problems all end, and those who were enemies, so quick, become friends!
When the goddess is busy,the chai grows cold, the calls on hold, and time goes out for a stroll!
When the goddess is sleepy, her eyelids start drooping, her body starts stooping, and the world doesn't matter any more!
The moods of the goddess are so many, but us un-godly understand but a few,
and the world keeps turning, churning every moment,
hoping for the goddess to be reborn, fresh, anew!

Poem Backstory:
There's this friend of mine, and one of the many nicknames I have for her is 'Goddess'. On a rainy morning a few days ago, she messaged me saying she was feeling angry at something... and I replied back 'When the goddess is angry, the mortals shall face her wrath!'. Somehow, starting with that message, a funny to and fro of SMSes started, rhymes started emerging, and line after line of the poem you just read was born!

Yeah, I know it's pretty much rubbish, but then I personally think it's really sweet, and it's one of the few times I've actually penned a poem for someone so it's all the more special for me! The girl too has repeatedly maintained that she loves the poem, and is honoured that I actually wrote a poem for her! :D

Random Note: I've been in a weird poetic mood over the last week or two! :)


Am I the only one who feels the word 'EPIC' is being overused on the internetz?I propose a new word to measure EPIC-ness : NOLAN!
As for the Epic Browser bit, do read this!

The Not-So-Epic Browser!!

On the night (rather, late late night) of 16th July, I started a twit-review of the latest darling of the Indian online media, Epic Browser, which is being touted as India's first web browser. What started off as random comments, ended up as a 31 tweet review (LinkBunch). So just editing those tweets a little and ordering them, here's my review of Epic Browser.

Epic Browser, is built upon the Firefox 3.6.6 base, and claims to be available for all 3 major platforms (Win-Linux-Mac), but on the site only the Windows version of the browser is listed. Later, I found out that the makers, Hidden Reflex, have released only the Win version, and plan to release the other versions later on.

A ~10.5 MB Download and a quick install later, I was greeted by the Epic Browser UI:

Note the checkbox over the Username box? Simply by checking it, you can type in Hindi (or one of the other inbuilt languages like Russian and Nepali! :P ).

The UI is almost the same as that of Firefox, with a few additions here and there. One of the most noticable additions to Epic Browser over Firefox 3.6.6 is the sidebar, which comes pre-built with stuff ranging from a timer to a word processor to shortcuts to FB, Orkut, Yahoo! Mail and Gmail. On the first-run, every feature you click opens up a pop up window explaining the feature. While this is a great feature for newbies, it is a little clunky. Unfortunately, the sidebar is static (i.e you can't remove or add stuff to it) and hence irrespective of whether you use FB (read) or Games or Jobs, those buttons will always exist in the sidebar.

One interesting feature is 'Collections' which
enables users to create a collection of websites to launch with a single click. Another interesting feature in the sidebar was 'Backup', and I was pretty surprised to see that it basically consisted of logging into Gmail, and uploading it to your inbox. (Kind of like GMail Drive). The highly touted 'Inbuilt Antivirus' is simply a free system scan + an advert for ESET! The 'Video' feature opens up a sidebar Youtube search app. The Youtube videos play within the sidebar app itself, and generates a download link for the video as well. While this is a convenient feature, the fact that the videos play within the sidebar itself is off-putting. And of course, it begs the question of the legality of such an option to be asked.

One thing I absolutely hated about the sidebar was that clicking on a feature didn't open a new tab, but rather a sidebar app. So basically you end up having |sidebar|app|main browser|, which is a huge Pain-in-the-assassin.

The default theme, "Peacock With Feathers", while nationalist is pretty ugh. Thankfully, just like FF, you can change the themes as well (Firefox calls it Personas). Personas was brilliantly implemented, but here the theme changer leaves the user wanting. You can also use Firefox Personas themselves as themes for Epic Browser. One design error is that the text on the bookmarks tab remains black irrespective of the theme, so if you use a dark theme you end up with a bookmarks menu that looks like this:

Epic Browser, as mentioned before, is based on Mozilla Firefox (which as you may know, I am a huge fan of!), and thankfully it doesn't hide the fact. The Help menu features a "About Mozilla" link, and some browser options actually link to official Mozilla pages.

Epic Browser is made for people who use the mouse a lot, since there is a serious lack of keyboard shortcuts to access the features.

On the technical side, Epic Browser is a resource hog, taking up nearly 1.4-1.5 times the memory of Firefox 4.0 beta. Also, the Epic website lacks any information whatsoever! Licensing information, Source codes (or atleast saying it's free but not open source), release information, proper documentation, etc. are lacking! Infact the Epic site looks like a scam site for one of those "registry errors" downloads.

At best, Epic Browser is a India-specific Customised FF release. At worst, it's a clunky browser with unnecessary overhyped features! As for being India's first browser, it depends on perspective! If you think BOSS Linux was India's first Linux distro, then Yes, Epic Browser is India's first browser! I personally don't think Epic deserves that title, considering it isn't a indigenous browser, but rather a child born out of a group orgy between multiple members, most notably Firefox!

I don't understand why the makers launched the browser only for a single platform, instead of waiting for say 15th August or 26th January and launching the browser for all platforms together. This would also give them time to work on their documentation, site, and to polish the browser, things which are desperately needed. Also the fact that Firefox has already moved to v. 4.0 (the first beta is already out!), plays against Epic Browser which is based on v. 3.6.6. Unless there are some radical changes made to the browser, this shall be my first and last experience with Epic Browser!

Just a bit of promotion here: I've absolutely fallen in love with LinkBunch over the last few days. So here's a hat tip to the maker of LinkBunch, Aalaap Ghag (@aalaap).

Sabse Bada Rupaiyaa!

Another day, another interesting development, this time in the form of the Govt. of India announcing the results of the yearlong nationwide hunt for a symbol to represent the Indian Rupee! And the winner, the oh-so-softspoken D. Udaya Kumar, a product of Anna University and IIT-B, who has cemented his place in quizzes for years to come! (If you're into quizzing, this smiling face is something you'll start seeing a lot of!)

Despite Ambika Soni nearly falling asleep during the Press Conference, the news of the new rupee symbol hit the internetz within seconds, and people started thinking hard to come up with views, reviews and personal interpretations of the symbol, completely ignoring Mr. Kumar's hi-fi explanation of arithmetic equivalence!

One of the earliest reactions to the symbol was that it looked kinda Communist! And no, not the Che Guevara type communist (read: Awesome!), but more of a Brinda Karat type lamess Communist! Don't believe me? Check it out :

came out with a very interesting "Colonial Hangover" explanation of the new symbol:

Unless you're blind, you've probably noticed how the new symbol looks kind of like a illegitimite kid born out of the union of a R and F, albeit a little less elegant than the more famous RF symbol:

Mah online bro Jyotishko (a.k.a @OldMonkMGM) came up with arguably the best symbol for the rupee. He calls it the "Rupeace"! And I swear to God, the minute I saw this, Dylan baba's The Times They Are a-Changin' started playing in my head! :)

On some blog, I saw some of the other contenders in the competition, and there are some pretty interesting ideas!{sarcasm begins} But if I had to give an award for best design, it'd undoubtedly go to this one:
No, really! I mean, can you imagine how much time we'd spend improving our drawing skills if this was adopted? Heck, we may well produce another Tyeb Mehta or M.F. Hussain. And it's truly nationalist too! While Mr. Udaya Kumar said the lines in his design were inspired by the Indian flag, this design takes the whole friggin' chakra into account! I have a gut feeling that this prospective symbol was designed by an Engineer! Only we can come up with such amazingly awesome designs! {sarcasm ends}

Last of all, here's something that popped into my mind the very instant I saw the design:
And don't act all saintly now! Admit it, it does fit doesn't it? John Cena FTW! :)

In the end, the new symbol is just that, a symbol! No, it won't cure poverty, nor will it reduce inflation, but is simply an image building exercise for the FinMin. The wait now begins for computer companies to start making keyboards with the Rupee symbol. Let's let the FOSS activists have a laugh shall we?:

What's done is done! Now, let's pray (for the impossible) and hope that our government finally begins to focus on the important issues that need to be looked at. Until that happens, the only thing we have is an identity! :)
  • All images except those attributed to someone else have been made/edited by me! So feel free to plagiarise them without linking back! :P
  • For a more serious review of the new rupee symbol, check out HoboGobo's Posterous.


Finally after all these years, here's to the beginning of what was there, what is there and hopefully what will remain!! So here are my thoughts & words -Online!!

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