Sunday, December 16, 2012

USA and Gun Control

The recent shooting in Newtown, CT shook me to the core and this is the first time in my recent memory of mass shootings and deaths I was shaken, needless to say fatherhood has its side effects.

Anyways, as any other person living in the USA I spent my weekend on gun control laws and the NRA and so on. Here is my take on the topic.

The NRA claim is that owning a gun is a constitutional right and it is intended to “have the ability to raise a private militia” in case the government decides to take over. In short one needs to own the gun to keep democracy in place. But wasn’t this statement made over 100 years ago when the government and the citizens had similar weapons. There were no missiles, invisible drones carrying missiles, hangars of F-16, F-18 and F-22’s and not to mention the nuclear warheads. Do we really believe that a citizen militia does stand a chance against the mighty armies armed to the teeth with way more sophisticated technology in terms of communications and weapons? In short if Obama decides to become the dictator and the American military decides to cooperate with him then I doubt if the free floating guns have any chance. 

That said, I am all for owning a gun and gun rights. For better or worse human beings in general are tending to be more private and believe in having their own space (big and wide) and its tough to be dependent on the 911 call to help always. As they analyze in the book “Freakonomics”, a gun changes the equation, it will make the contender likely to loose a fight more likely to win the fight. As much as I love to believe, we do not live in a very civilized world. So, I believe one should have the right to own a gun for self protection. The other reason to own a gun is for sport (target shooting) and (as much as I dislike it) hunting.

While reading the article on Mother Jones website, it occurred to me that most of the mass gun shootings are carried out by semi automatic pistols or handguns. The so called assault rifles contribute to less than half of the shootings. So, if the law makers do not want to pick up the battle and want to ban all the assault rifles and want to face an opposition from the NRA and its likes, here is my advice, just focus on banning all the large capacity magazines. Set the max limit to 8 or 10, let the rifle lovers have their rifles, For it is my understanding that for both the scenarios I mentioned one would not need a 30-40 bullet magazine. To be more effective the ban should be retroactive and make an effort to eliminate these methodically.           

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

FDI in retail in India

Last few days I have been hearing a big hue and cry about India allowing FDI (foreign direct investment) into retail sector. I don’t think it is worth the hype it is given. Here are my reasons as to why

  • The biggest fears is like companies like Walmart will take over mom and pops stores.When ever I visited Walmart or similar retail stores here in US, the first thing that amazes me is the size of these damn things. In India we can build a multi story complex housing 30 to 40 stores in the size of 1 Walmart. So, if Walmart were to truly open in India, I doubt if they can be located in prime locations in the heart of the city.
  • One big thing I miss in US is the ability to try out new products for everything from cookies to soaps and are sold in in bulk. Growing up in India that was not the case.
  • The mom and pop stores have established a customer base to themselves, there are advantages to buying from these stores on a regular basis, Like free home delivery, credit for the purchases and so on. I am sure the foreign retailers won’t offer such things anyway.
  • The arrival of Mcdonalds and other Pizza-Burger places back in 2000 or so were considered a threat to the local fast food chains. I didn’t see that happen either. From what I can see the Pizza-Burger places seem to have found a balance with the local fast food places and have found a way to co-exist peacefully.
  • One more example from my early child hood days were the introduction of Hopcoms (neighborhood stores selling veggies and fruits only) in Karnataka, if I remember right, they are government sponsored and I still don’t see them having eliminated the street vegetable vendors in any part of the Karnataka state. Another such example is the Janata Bazaar.
  • On the other hand, I see the foreign retailers with their huge supply chain as a plus point. They can probably figure out a way around the incidents where the farmers were dumping tomatoes on the streets for the lack of better market. I personally doubt this though, it might go the other way completely.
  • Last but not the least, I prefer my neighborhood Iyengar Bakery’s fresh bread and cake any day anytime over the stale and frozen ones from big retails. 

Friday, September 07, 2012

Republican platform analyzed - my 2 cents

Why do I get the feeling that Republicans this time are running on a very weak platform. I think I know and here it is

  • Their energy policy unveiled by Mitt Romney, only talks about drilling and more drilling and oil and more oil. What about natural gas?, what about renewable sources? or for that matter Nuclear energy?. For me the focus is too narrow and drilling more and more is not the only solution.
  • They talk doing the economy more good but don’t highlight what they would be doing differently then what it is right now, lower taxes and reduced borrowing costs, do you have anything else to offer?
  • Reduced government spending by cutting more welfare programs and schools but increase in military spending is it?, because last I checked the latest 3 wars were started by republican presidents (father and son duo).
  • I am sick and tired of the abortion debate and I am also sick of what is considered forced pregnancy vs other forms. I wonder what part of government spending does this account for. Why not let states choose what they want to implement and be done with it.
  • Their platform of “we built it” and  rallying around for a whole day in the convention sounds like “Joe the plumber” deal from last elections. Grow up guys, context or no context of what the president said, one can only flourish when there is a stable government, good infrastructure and security in the society. If all it took was hard work to be prosperous then why not invest in countries like Sudan or Somalia?
  • The health care reform, this is one thing I am not sure. But again, I heard the owner of Papa Johns Pizza said it would cost him an average of $0.14/pizza to implement health care. Will I as a customer notice a $0.14 increase in my pizza cost?
  • Immigration policy is one other area, where I do not have a clear opinion towards one way or the other.  

Thursday, September 06, 2012

India and the reservation policies

Reservation or Affirmative action for the lower caste (specially SC/ST) has been there since the time of independence and what started off as a 10-15 year policy has extended and became bigger and bigger as the years gone by.

It was hard growing up with these policies and was the hardest to endure when we were in 12th grade. Students who were with us (our good friends), whose parents had the same or higher education than ours and who were to an extent more affluent than us and lastly in terms of grades scored equal to us managed to get into much better colleges and branches than us. Why, because they had the reserved quota.

Coming out of the professional colleges, we knew the public sector had its reservations and bureaucracy, hence most of us were interested in the private sector where the field was open to play. But some of my friends wanted to try their hand in the Indian administrative services for they believed once you are in, then the promotions and all are based on your seniority and performance. I have huge respects for those guys.

The latest is the amendment by the congress seems to undermine this and want to inject caste as the basis for promotions also. The reason being there is less representation of the lower caste people in the upper echelons of the government and that needs to be fixed.

This I think is ridiculous, here is why. Last I heard India was still a democracy and the upper most echelons of the government is the elected representatives, we definitely have reservations there. Coming to the secretaries and joint secretaries, who are responsible to advice our some what dumb and some times illiterate elected representatives, shouldn’t they be the smartest of the smartest in the country and not based upon caste or creed or color. Up to what level does an IAS or IPS need to carry the identity of his caste?, from the day he joined the service till he retires?, if that is the case then where does the society free from caste creed and color stand. Reminds me of the quote from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, “All are equal but some are more equal than others”

What next, the esteemed Indian cricket team will have reservations and the next time we send a contestant to the world wide beauty pageant we will have reservations there also?  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Google Nexus 7– First impressions

Considering the fact that in our family of 3 we have 3 Ipods (1 of them being the Ipod-touch) and 2 versions of Iphones, when it came to choosing a tablet pc, the ideal choice should have been the Ipad. But after reviewing the amount of usage the Ipod touch has received in the last year of ownership, I was hesitant to pay the Apple tax and buy the Ipad, thus started the hunt for alternatives. 


Thankfully I only could find 2, one being Kindle Fire and other being Google’s own Nexus 7. If I had to buy an year ago, I probably would have bought kindle fire itself but after reading the reviews on the product, I went with the other alternative. 2 things that prevented me from going with Kindle Fire, 1 is its exclusion of accelerometer and the other is its extreme customization of Android OS (updates have to come from Amazon).

First impression, I loved it. It has a nice rubber grip on the back,.a nice responsive touch screen, pretty slim form factor. and is fairly light weight. The size was something I was apprehensive about (for Ipad has a 10” screen while this is only 7”), boy was I surprised, it being 7” makes it easier to hold in 1 hand and use other hand to manipulate the tablet. The battery life is pretty impressive (haven’t measured or compared but it seems to last a while). The underlying CPU is pretty responsive and even after playing around with Google Earth for a while, I didn’t feel it warm at all. One other thing I liked the most was the lack of mechanical home button on the Nexus which is a standard for Ipad.    

It is an Android OS and not the IOS, so it has a bit of learning curve but in less than a couple of hours I was able to install apps and check updates and all the good stuff. The screen resolution is not very high but I could hardly make out the difference between my Iphone4 (with retina display) and the Nexus 7.

One caveat though, the screen on my Iphone is so strong that I have let my daughter toss it around couple of times on a tiled floor and it has come out unscathed, but I don’t think Nexus 7 can stand that treatment.

I haven’t played around with the front and back cameras or taking any videos or pics with those. I doubt if I ever will do it considering we use our Iphone’s for most of that work and if we need more precision and clarity we bring out the big guns (Canon Rebel Xsi).

If you are in the market for a tablet PC and are on the fence whether to pay APPLE the tax or not, then I would recommend Google Nexus 7.       

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lance Armstrong – you made me sad

It’s a sad day for me and sports fans like me. Lance Armstrong quits fighting USADA. I have huge admiration for this guy professionally (not personally), the guy fought cancer, won 7 Tour-De-France titles, made cycling a popular sport in America, setup one of the very successful cancer foundations and more importantly the most popular yellow “live strong” wrist bands. The bands at one point were so popular that people were envious of those who had it and it was a matter of pride wearing it.

The most important thing for me was, he lives in Austin and he is a native of Texas. If my memory serves right, I bought my bike after his 2004 win of “Tour-de-France”.

I had been following this case of USADA vs Lance pretty closely and I am surprised by the timing of it. He was practically retired from the professional life and the last title he had won was in 2006. The case they are making is from blood samples from 2009 and 2010, What were these blood samples doing for the last 3 odd years. Waiting for the technology to mature for testing. I don’t understand their terms also, one can only get into an arbitration with them and not a fight and there is no third party to oversee the proceedings. 

Whatever their allegations or reasons behind it may be, I was hoping Mr. Armstrong will fight it to the end and prove one way or other. By letting it away, he has left lots of people like me in confusion, did he dope and if he did how come he was never caught all these years? with all the countless tests he had to face while racing “Tour-De-France”. Or what was he scared of with USADA which made him to quickly accept the defeat (in less than 2 months).

I guess the solace we have to take is from the fact that he did fight back from cancer and medals or not made it to the international sporting scene and setup a successful cancer research foundation.       

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

India and Olympics

Being a proud citizen of India, I had accepted long ling time ago that Olympics is not for Indians. For that matter anything but cricket is not for India. I know it is sad but it is true. While I resided in India and Soviet Union was strong I was watching the medal tally to see how close will the Soviets get to USA now I like to see if USA can stay ahead of China in the final medal tally.

All was good till today morning when the radio station NPR decided to air a 3minute story on how poorly the 2nd most populous country in the world is doing in London Olympics. They focused specifically on the Indian field hockey team which apparently is performing the worst in the Indian Olympic history (not a single win). The story was true and as the usual style with NPR, a well balanced one and they had couple of interviews with fans and the editor of some local magazine in India and with the Australian born coach (really, here too we cannot find Indians to coach Indians?) of the Indian hockey team.

The story though true and I for years have accepted India and Olympics still made me squirm in my car seat. Needless to say, the reason was that some 3rd person is pointing to India and saying you guys should do better.

For once in my life I felt the pinch, it is time that we as a nation should do something about this. The story pointed out that the new hockey grounds played on artificial turfs are hard to afford for country like India, come on you got to be kidding me. A small hole in the BCCI coffers and we have one in every major city in the country. As is well known, I think we lack the political motivation to achieve this and don’t know how to get our so called elected leaders to act on this and make a difference.

If the argument is “if only cricket were in Olympics . . . . . . “, get real people we have won only 2 world cups of the 10 that have been played.       

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

One nation–One test

Kapil Sibal, the esteemed human resources minister of government of India seems to be in the lime light for some or the other controversial proposals. the recent one being the “One Nation One Test” plan. From what I understood it is his proposal to have 1 entrance examination for both IITs and IIIFT’s and NIT’s. He is also proposing a SAT like infrastructure for Indian institutions.

In theory, I am all for 1 exam for both the IIT’s and the rest of the Engineering institutions. This will make students write 1 less exam than they are used to. What I don’t like is his proposal of adding weightage from the board exams to the entrance exams. Considering we do not hold the same syllabus for all the students across the country, this will be a bad thing for the students from ICSE or CBSE board exams who usually have tougher standards than most state board exams. They propose they can use statistics and make it all equal, one thing to keep in mind is that a students life should not be determined by statistics. 

I find his reasoning for the inclusion of board exam results to entrance exam ridiculous (“students are spending more time in coaching for IITs”), Only a fool will put all the eggs in 1 basket and coach himself/herself only for IIT and nothing else. Most students prepare for all the different entrance exams possible including their present state’s entrance exam.

Lastly, the examination similar to SAT. I don’t see much benefit in the same. In the USA, where the admissions are based on SAT, students can apply for schools/universities outside their residential state and if they qualify they will get admitted (granted they will pay higher fees). But in India the admissions are controlled by the state governments and there is a limited amount (if any) of seats for students from outside the state.

One thing I would like to see is to get rid of the absolute scores in the undergraduate examinations and assign GPA’s instead. I remember the nightmare it was to convert from the marks obtained to the GPA’s while applying for admissions to graduate degrees.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Farewell dear friends

Dear Dr. Rao and Ambica

I am feeling sad to know that you will be leaving Austin soon. I have known both you guys for close to a decade now and knowing you guys was one of the best things that happened in my life.

You are one of my best buddies and the ones whom I knew I could count on under any circumstance. I remember that one time I had called upon Dr. Rao on a weekday to pick me up from my car dealer in Georgetown,TX and drop me back home in south Austin, he didn’t hesitate for a single moment and showed up to help me out. You guys were my support and behind the scene folks for most of our apartment relocations. For all the  events we have hosted, we always call upon you guys for food pickup and you have always obliged our requests.

There is one thing in specific that I am grateful to Ambica is for making me stick with the Art of Living foundation, there was a time when I was dejected with the behavior of some of the members of the foundation, talking to her brought back the sanity in me and I decided to hang in there. I am glad that I did.

The few trips we have done together have been really wonderful and memorable. I wish we had done a few more.  

I have learnt a lot by observing and interacting with you guys. I am a big fan of your down to earth nature and simplicity. I will definitely miss the ever smiling faces, the logical arguments of Dr. Rao, the patented dance moves, the endless jokes and conversations, the list goes on.

Many do not know, there is a poet hidden in Dr. Rao and I was one of the lucky ones to witness the same.            

It is a small world we live in and Bangalore happens to be my home town, will definitely meet you guys whenever we visit India. You sure will be missed here in Austin. 



Another random post

I walk into restaurants like Which Wich or Subway or other non Indian ones, I see a bunch of high school looking kids managing the show. I rarely see anybody old and matured with the owner type looks being there.

Now compare that to any Indian owned and operated. I bet you will see the owner operating the cash register and a bunch of illegal immigrant like looking people who can barely understand English working as bus boys and waiters/waitress or helping around the stores. 

One argument is that the Indian folks are protecting their investment and maximizing their profits. But on the other hand those who have put money to own the franchise like subway or which wich aren't the highest order philanthropists.

Another argument we can make is that Indian operated stores cater to a specific customer base and hence good to have an ethnically familiar face at the head, I can buy that argument to an extent but not completely. It could also be a trust issue that comes with the culture, we do not trust others specially young kids when it comes to money.

I think the sensible argument is that these stores start off as family owned and operated business and tend to continue the same way. Very rarely do they grow to the extent of opening multiple branches across multiple cities and states. I am not stereotyping anything but noting a general trend I have observed across multiple cities across multiple states in the USA.      

Come to think of it, this is the story of most ethnic family owned restaurants. Whether it is Chinese or Mexican or Vietnamese or Indian. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Home sales and economy

Recently we bought a house here in Austin, after evaluating the options of “getting the house built” with “buying an existing house”, we ended up with the latter than the former. In the process what stuck me was the number of people that I directly interacted with in the process of home buying/selling.

Realtors: 1 for each buyer and seller. One thing I realized was that it is virtually impossible to buy an existing house in Austin without the help of the realtor. There are websites like Redfin which help with the listings in the neighborhood and providing  comparative market analysis but wouldn’t give you a way of contacting the sellers realtor without going through them. Apart from this, the agility with which the paper work needs to be done and the paper work itself makes you hire a good realtor.

Finance: There are 2 options here, option 1 is to go with the existing big bank like Bank of America or Chase. Option 2 is to go through a middle man called the loan officer who will work with different banks and get you the rate. I went with the latter option. There was a loan officer to whom I spoke first and then her assistant who worked with me to get my loan through.  

Appraisal: The bank sends the appraisal person but I had to cough up the fees for the same.

Inspection: Are there hidden problems in the house that one should be aware of before going through the sale. This one is for my own peace of mind and not a mandated one. But again nobody buys a house without going through this step. 

Survey: This comes with the house when built and I believe provided by the builder but if there are modifications to the house like a covered porch or a pool. Need to hire a survey guy to do a survey of the property (seller does this).     

Title company: This is the company who acts as meditators between the buyers and seller parties and takes responsibility for transferring the money from buyers bank to sellers bank. They also issue the title insurance quoting that they will stand behind the documents of the house we are buying. They have a ton of lawyers and the Escrow officers and their assistants. 

Warranty and Insurance company: I have listed them together but are actually 2 different ones. One provides warranty for the appliances in the house and can be rejected if not interested (usually good to take it for seller is paying for most of it). The other one is mandatory and no escaping out.

If my count is right, apart from the buyer and seller there were 11 people directly involved to complete the transaction, I am sure there were a few more that I didn’t directly interacted with.

It appears that the sale of existing homes is an industry in itself. Now I understand why the sale of existing homes bears such an impact on the economy. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Iphone 4 home button problem – revisited

Before Apple introduced the iOS 5, my iphone 4 with its iOS 4 had to be connected to the PC to update the software once in a while. But with iOS 5 it introduced “over the air updates” and said even Iphone 4 can be upgraded too but forgot to mention that the phone needs to be connected to the computer once in a while and do a sync with iTunes, In my case failing to do this makes the home button on Iphone 4 irresponsive. 

I had written a blog post a few months ago that one needs to hook up a vacuum cleaner to clear the dust beneath the home button. I think I was wrong, I realized accidentally and proved to myself again and again that if the home button becomes irresponsive then connect to the computer and do a sync with iTunes.

One interesting thing to note is that my wife’s Iphone 4s which was launched with iOS 5 does not suffer the same problem. She rarely syncs with ITunes but her phone’s home button seem to be working like new for ever. My guess is that APPLE made changes in the hardware to support the iOS 5 over the air updates which was never revealed to the public. 

One more interesting thing to note is that the solution I found for the home button problem on Iphone 4 is not recorded anywhere on the web. So, I wonder if my solution works with my phone only.

Birds in our backyard

IMG_0027 IMG_0025

Few days ago we noticed that White-winged Dove’s had nested in both our front and backyard trees. We were so excited that we would get to see the young ones and all but the happiness was short lived. Within a few days both the birds abandoned their nests. My guess, the male was two timing both the females and they got to know about it :).   

Note both pics were taken by my Canon 18-55mm kit lens and the first pic was shot through a glass window with a black wire mesh attached to it. Now I have upgraded my lens to a Sigma 18-250mm lens and life is completely different after that. Below is the pic of a humming bird feeding in our backyard.


Funny part is, I ordered the 18-250mm lens to capture the doves nests from up close but by the time the lens arrived the birds had flown off their nests. May be next season we will have better luck. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Naanu nanna kanasu

Naanu nanna kanasu (translated Me and my dream) a movie in Kannada by Prakash Rai. I had avoided the movie till last week when my wife forced me to watch the movie with her. I believed I had good reasons to avoid for I believed that the movie is a depressing and sad movie. Boy! was I totally wrong, and I am thankful to Sandhya for making me watch it.

The story is simple and I can positively say it is the story  of every parent. It is the life story of a girl from her birth till the day she gets married, told from the point of view of her loving, caring and devoted father. What captures the attention is the narration and the acting by the lead stars. One can relate to a lot of events described in the movie.  It has its tender moments and laughing scenes but doesn’t have much of forced comedy. Couple of scenes are worth mentioning, the scene of parents preparing for an interview to get their kid to the school and the way dad reacts when he finds out that mom knew about daughter’s love matter before him.

If I remember right, it has couple of songs which were ok, not worth mentioning, but at the same time weren’t bad enough that I couldn’t sit through. I was so sold on the depressing story line of the movie that through out the movie I was waiting for the mother to die, thankfully nobody died in the movie.  In the end it turned out to be a comedy than a depressing and sad movie. 

As with any movie, this has its sets of exaggerations, specially the story line of the son-in-law or the altruistic nature of the girl or the way that the family friends doesn’t age at all. Most of it can be ignored for the movie is really well done.

Definitely worth a watch once. If interested one can see it legally on YouTube. Sorry guys, no subtitles.

One word of caution, the movie as expected is dominated by Prakash Rai and there is not a single scene without him.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

How honest are we?

Back in India, we keep crying “politicians are looting our country”, “we need selfless and honest leaders”, “Our country would be great if had good leaders” and so on. While all of the above are true, I wonder to what extent the common man is honest. You don’t get my thinking, here is the list I compiled.

  • The property we buy in India gets registered to half the value and the other half is paid for in cash. This is so rampant that one will be hard pressed to find a seller willing to quote the actual sale price of the property and pay tax for the same. 
  • We never believed in paying for the software we use, we believe in hacking an OS and pirating the same than paying the full price.
  • We love our pirated DVDs of movies, practice is so organized that one can find an illegal camera print copy of a movie within a day of its release.
  • I don’t remember the last time I paid full price for a musical CD
  • We negotiate with the food caterer to see if he can give us a discount for paying in cash. Of course he does, deduct the sales tax from the order and offer it as a discount.
  • We believe in registering properties and opening accounts in our non working spouses to save on taxes.
  • We rarely believe in reporting rental income on our taxes.
  • We believe in opening multiple accounts in multiple banks to avoid tax mans interest.   
  • We blame the government official of not working but how many hours in an actual 8 hour working day we spend in doing “work”?          

The list can go on, I will be first to admit that I am guilty of quite a few items in the list.

The motivation for this blog post came from this Kannada song

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Why is there less litter here?

A good friend of ours is visiting us from India and we are taking her around and showing the typical attractions of Austin and its surrounding. A curious incident happened during one of these outings.

Here is how it unfolded, my friend was eating a chocolate in the moving car and suddenly she opened the window and asked me “what will happen if I throw the chocolate wrapper out now?”, as typically expected I reacted saying the usual of “you are not supposed to litter and they may fine you if caught and so on”, she replied back “this is a long stretch of open highway, I don’t see anybody around and haven’t seen a single cop for miles together, so when will they find out and when will they fine me?”.

This made me ponder a bit, it cannot always be the fear of punishment that prevents us from littering on the road (it is to an extent an important factor, no doubt), then what is it?. Are the roads and premises so clean that we don’t feel like littering? Or, Our greater sense of civic duty prevents us from littering? or a combination of everything above. I am not convinced that I have stumbled on a clear answer yet.

Apart from the highway littering, the littering on the walkways is considerably less in this country than in India or other developing countries (I wouldn’t say it is zero here for I have seen cigarette butts being thrown without hesitation in this country also). This I attribute to a few reasons, one is lower population or lesser population density, second higher frequency of good, well kept trash cans and lastly less number of mom and pop stores selling items in loose (1 cigarette, 1 chocolate and so on). 

The last reason is the one that is making me think twice and thrice, is reducing the number of independent stores and replacing it with a super market kind of thing can make things cleaner and better for the environment in some sense? 

Monday, April 30, 2012

It marks the end

They say all things eventually have to come to an end, doesn’t matter if it is good or bad. After nearly 4 and half years, my gold fish aquarium has reached its end. The last of the 4 gold fish died on Sunday (April 29 2012). May its soul rest in peace.

What amazes me is that I thought this fish will not survive the move and will die during the transition, but this one was a strong one and it survived the move (most unplanned ever) and also lived for nearly 6 weeks or so. 

As is the case with the other gold fish, I do not know the actual reason as to why this one died. It feels sad to see an empty aquarium at home and I do not have the heart or the courage to populate the tank with new fish right now. May be it is time to shelve the aquarium for now.

smart or cheating?

photo (1)

This was at an Exxon gas station in Austin, typical order is Regular, Plus and Supreme. 

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Its all Newton

Long long time ago, Sir Isaac Newton proposed 3 famous laws, one defined inertia another one defined momentum and the last one, I don’t know what it defines but it is pretty famous too.

When I learnt it first time and re-learned it again and again (adding more complexities each time) during various phases of my school/college life I thought the law only applied to inanimate objects. It was only couple of days ago it occurred to me that it applies to my life more than anything else.

Here are a few instances where I can relate

  • In the years 2010 and 2011 I was pretty diligent about my blog and was posting an average of 3 to 4 posts a month. The momentum of posting kept me looking/thinking about new things to write and comment on. But in this year inertness has taken over and I am so far in that inert momentum that I am finding it hard to come out of it (Inertia).
  • For those who know, once a week I compile the news and events listing for Art of Living Austin and send out to an email list and till a few weeks ago I was diligent in compiling and sending, now its been more than 3 weeks since I compiled the news letter.

There are quite a few instances like this I can post about and if I want more all I need to do is ask my wife Smile.

The crucial point about inertia is that it takes an external force to change the state of being and then momentum takes over. While writing this post, It occurred to me that the real force for me has to come from within and not from external sources. You can call it self motivation, I would like to call it satva and the only way I am aware of is to get regular with my Sadhana.   

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Iphone Home button

Iphone users can tell you how important the home button on the phone is. Time and again it goes out of calibration (it did it twice for me in last year and half). In my case It got so bad that some times I had to click multiple times before the click got recognized and the ,more frustrating the behavior was random for it sometimes would treat multiple clicks as multiple clicks itself. I would have taken it to the Apple’s Genius bar but the phone was out of warranty. 

While looking for solution on the web, I came across a simple one. The solution was to turn off the phone and stick a vacuum cleaner or an air blower to the place where stick the charger. Since I had nothing to lose, I decided to give it a shot. Instead of air blower, I used the vacuum cleaner and vola it fixed the problem.

I have repeated this step twice so far and have gotten good results both times, so give it a shot before tearing apart the phone or driving up to the genius bar.   

ps: There is one more software solution, I came across. I haven’t tried to see if this works, but you could try.  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kids and hi-tech gadgets

We usually let our daughter play around with some of the hi-tech gadgets at home (TV, computer, Iphone, Ipod and so on) but do it under fairly close supervision. The reason is 2 fold, on 1 hand if she can break the system then it is not worth to be around her and on the other if at all there are a few things she manages to change and make it unusable there is always Dr. Google to help us bring things back to shape.

Surprisingly, there is a 3rd reason too. Thanks to her and her out of the box thinking, I have learnt a new thing or 2. For ex: I was not aware that my Samsung TV had something called “Store Demo” mode which can be turned on by clicking a few buttons in the front of the TV. In this mode the TV over rides any display settings you have and shows pictures in high brightness with 100% contrast, of course can’t watch for too long in that mode and since I am not that as savvy with the buttons as her I had to use the graphical UI to debug the problem. On the other occasion after she had played around with my computer keyboard, all it was doing was to print special characters and upper case letters only, this time around the fix was to ask Dr. Google and solution was to hold both “shift” keys simultaneously for a few seconds. My favorite is when she showed us that Windows 7 allows for screen to be oriented in 4 different ways (landscape, portrait, straight and reverse) and that the DELL laptops have a keyboard shortcut to achieve the same (CTRL+ALT+ Arrow key). 

The one equipment/gadget I am scared to let her play around is the IPhone, for its easy to use interface is so easy that she has accidentally deleted couple of pics and videos recorded on the phone. Of course that hasn’t stopped me from letting her play with it, I am more careful with her around. There is another side effect of letting her play with the Iphone, she thinks any screen of that size (like the camera) is touch sensitive and she can can go to the next pic or video by just moving her fingers across the screen.

I don’t know how long we can let her play for she is getting bigger and stronger and now getting in the mode of learning to throw things.