Category Archives: Personal

Some jottings which relate to my life and worries…

Buying books … online

I have had it with buying books at a bookstore especially if that bookstore happens to be a Crossword – their in-store staff simply don’t make the cut. Having no idea about what books they have in stock they invent irrelevant stories to ward off possible purchases. In short I would not recommend buying books from them. The issue with Landmark on the other hand is the perennial hovering of their in-store staff which is annoying and reminds me of the bookstalls of some “large names” when they appear at the Kolkata Book Fair. Much as I like to buy books after I touch them and read the print size the callous approach taken by these two leave me with no other option but to move to online book purchases. On a side note, Landmark scores over Crossword in being prompt to reply to e-mail book requests and transaction related queries but is just about it.
Runa suggested trying out NDTV Shopping for books. I tried them out and they seem to have understood what good service is about. I ordered, purchased and packed a book to be delivered to my mother at Kolkata on Sunday. She’s received it in an excellent packaging on Tuesday (that’s yesterday) evening. I had purchased two books for myself too on Monday however a glitch with the payment gateway (the usual browser related stuff I assume) put the approval in a limbo. I exchanged a couple of mails with the mail address provided and lo behold !! – the order has been cancelled (which I had requested) and the transaction amount refunded. All this without a glitch. The only thing that could be better was the search engine. That is an important part of the shopping cart experience and the current search engine just does not allow too much modification allowing one to figure out the book of choice. Oh !! The prices are nicely below those offered by the brick-n-mortar bookstores.

Update: As someone who suggested so persuasively on IM, kudos to Indiaplaza (formerly Fabmall) for an excellent job.

It’s in the way you use it…

An IRC chat with a newly acquired friend resulted in the stunning disclosure that sometimes it is very easy to get distracted when one reads scrollbacks on IRC channels or even reads blogs. Distraction is a state of the mind that is common to everybody but what is important to learn over here is that the “tunnel vision”, “laser vision” (or whatever one calls it) is not something one is generally born with. That is acquired by degrees since one has to “work” at it. On a daily basis and each day keep track of how far down that road one has progressed. A fallout of far too many IRC channels, planets, blogs and what nots is that there is a large bit of information overload and not all of that information is of the “good-to-have” nature. Filtering out the noise and amplifying the signal takes time, effort and experience.

Some bits from Faiz

Pankaj asks folks to figure out the English of a Faiz gem. Here’s what my trusty Faiz collection gave me:

May I be a sacrifice to your streets, oh fatherland, where

It has become custom that no-one shall go with head lifted

And that any lover who comes out on pilgrimage

Must go with furtive looks, go in fear of body and life;

Applied to the people of heart now there is method of administration

That stones and bricks are locked up, and dogs free

Strange since I was trying to recollect bits of these phrases some days back…

Everyday is a winding road

Everyday is a winding road
I get a little bit closer
Everyday is a faded sign
I get a little bit closer to feeling fine

A Linux Users’ Group or a LUG (or GLUG) is a community and for a community to thrive what is required is a steady stream of interest. What made iLUG-Cal moribund is that some of the senior members (which also includes yours truly) could never get enough amount of time to get the fresh folks going. Add to that the fact that there were the hiccups with the mailing list, the website, the domain name and you-name-it-we-had-it kind of worries it was not long before the demise of the LUG as we knew it was being talked about. And it was all true (in fact it still is all true – what you see now is just a small bit of the beginning or could be the last hurrah before the end). Individual brilliance can never make a LUG and without time and energy and most importantly events a LUG never flourishes. One hopes that this time around we can get to see some activity being spun around the LUG. For a change (or for better or for worse), I am not part of anything that’s the new LUG. An important reason for such a decision is that sometimes it is just better to thrust responsibility on to folks rather than wait for them to grow into a new role – we have waited long and hard and the only thing that we got as result was complacency. Given that I hardly am in Kolkata and add to that the fact that I don’t have too much time on my hands these days (fancy time management stuff implementation notwithstanding) it is better that a whole new gang of LUG-gers take over. There isn’t much to do to begin with but slowly hopefully there will be more things to do.

An important aspect that led to this decision is that the world I entered (or the FOSS scene) has changed considerably. Things are far more easier and work-out-of-the-box kind than ever before, there are newer slicker distributions. What this means is that a large part of the revival would require innovation in thoughts or what can be called design thinking. The old school paradigms are no longer relevant. And the new school innovations are fun to watch. Heady stuff like Mugshot etc are taking things to a newer level while events like the SoC allow a large cache of new members to come into the forefront. These would be fun times to watch from the sidelines.
I’ve been wondering if all the thing I’ve seen
Were ever real, were ever really happening

Of late I’ve not been feeling really fine – it is like the brain is overclocking at random times leading to dizziness. I’ve eliminated a few obvious causes – it is not my health (the exercises help), not my work (I still enjoy coming to office), not my reading habits (I still average around 3 books a week) but there’s this back of the head niggling worry about something that I cannot quite put a finger on. I’d take a few days off sometime early March to ponder but unfortunately did the cardinal sin of not logging off the internet. Mails can sometimes be a thought killer and I fell into the trap. Perhaps I do need to take sometime off

Taking some time off

This year would be the first time that I am not attending LinuxAsia, although given the theme of Interoperability – it would have been an interesting one to go to. In keeping with my tradition I did not attend and will also not attend Gnunify (this one would have been nice to attend) since I am in Kolkata during that period. The only one I would love to go to is Freedel. Let’s see when the organisers get that one going. Horizon organised by the Durgapur LUG is also being given a skip.
The past few years I have been doing the rounds of conferences and small meets and I see the same faces talking about the same thing and nothing much being done. Thus, in order to shrug off my cynicism, I am taking a self imposed break to do some stuff – file a few bugs, complete a few hack tasks I had set for myself and in general try level best not to fall out of the habit of coding. Over the past few months the sluggish and intermittent attempts to get back to coding has exposed how much out of practice I have become – and that’s frightening. Not all that I do would be available immediately, but I hope that with the plans that I have for Randomink, we can get some good things going.

Stuff meant for someplace else

This post was actually meant to be for this page but the server was being hammered today and so thought it better to put it down someplace before I completely forget it again.

We have been discussing mostly among the members and a few folks interested in the Membership Committee about the issues with the current workflow. These normally relate to the following:

  1. How to process applications that don’t have a reference ? This excludes applications which don’t have a reference to a person but provide links to the GNOME Bugzilla or perhaps a Changelog
  2. How to define a timeframe for an applicant contact response ? In a few cases (and recently in the case of Corey) till the time all the references respond we really cannot process the application. And of course poking the contacts on IRC or on mail by us is a bit of not-done
  3. How to do away with renewals ?

The last issue is something that is kind of once in sometime. Memberships are required to be renewed when the validity expires – this ought to be automated and should be. What can be provided to members as an option is to opt out of membership if they feel that there has not been substantial contributions to GNOME. While it may have the effect of having folks who did not contribute substantially yet are still members, it also puts some work off the committee’s shoulders. Speaking for myself, the Committee should be validating requests rather than indulging in fancy hand magic f00. Note, that as on date we have around 200 or more members whose memberships are pending renewal. Would not do too much harm if we automated the process and then allowed them to opt out of the membership (some of them have done that out of choice anyway)

Lastly, we need to look into the issues of lowering the barriers to entry for GNOME membership yet make it attractive enough or make it valuable enough so what others can join up.

House-hunting begins

I am looking for a semi-furnished/furnished 1/2 BHK flat (preferably in an apartment block) in and around the following areas: Indiranagar, Cambridge Layout, Jaynagar etc. Anyone who can help me in my househunting activities feel free to write in to sankarshan dot mukhopadhyay at gmail dot com or call up at 09341092017 (between 0730 and 2100 hours).