Friday, November 06, 2009


Last Friday, we had an International Potluck at our son's, Apoorv's school -- Monticello Academy. It was a pleasure to attend it (I did it in spirit, no pun intended).

We made a delicious (of course) Indian delicacy. Here are the details of the recipe:
  1. Type: Vegetarian.
  2. Kind: Sweet.
  3. Calories: Don't count them. The item is exempt from Calorie calculations.
  4. Preparation: It is definitely quick and easy

    • Ingredients: Shredded coconut (1 bowl), Sugar (1 bowl + 1 Tsp), Mango pulp(1 bowl), cardamom, milk powder (1/3rd bowl), lots of love.

    • Microwave (Yes, it's a verb) the shredded coconut till it's tender. Then in a clean skillet start heating it on gentle heat. Exercise care that it does not get overheated too quickly. Add the mango pulp while continuing to stir. Stirring is the key operation. After about 15-20 minutes of gentle heating and constant stirring, add the bowl of sugar. Since the mango pulp has some unforgettable sourness, it's okay to add a bit of more sugar.
    • Stir more. Heat more, but gently. The mixture starts to liquefy and then it solidifies. The temperature is around 95-100 degrees Celsius when you should be ready to stop the heat. Just about that time, add the milk powder to the mixture. It will be nice if you could use a funnel to add it to the mixture.
    • At this time, you should be able to make a big ball of mixture. Don't eat it at this time ;) (It's very mouth watering). Let it cool. The creation of this "ball of mango-coconut mixture" is key. The idea is that the mixture is able to "stand".
    • Make not more than 1 inch diameter balls by just rubbing the mixture between your palms. They look very tasty too ;).

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

We face challenges or challenges face us?

San Jose Mercury News asks on the front page (08 September 2009):

What challenges face 49ers this year?

I believe linguists can help us prove that this statement makes sense, but I think it would convey the meaning better, when put either this way:

What challenges 49ers face this year?

, or simply this way:

Challenges 49ers face this year (without the question mark)

I told you -- English is funny!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The pleasing paradox ...

I thought this article presented a balanced point of view. Very interesting read indeed!

Paraphrasing some of content:

The challenge is to be of service without becoming servile. We shouldn’t elevate any customer to the role of superior being, but treat each with human respect.

Human respect does not involve treating others as if they were superior or defining yourself through their expectations just because they're paying the bill. Human respect means being responsible, not overly responsible—a curious form of irresponsibility. Don’t cut others' meat for them.

Human respect demands that I respect myself so that I can respect others. Whenever I take that humbling step down and backwards, I can lose my own self-respect, and thereby forfeit my ability to really respect—or be of real service—to anyone else. When I can engage with my customer as a peer, we both seem more satisfied with the result.

I think it is important that you satisfy yourself by doing what you do.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Code comments!

A friend forwarded these code comments recently. Some of them are hilarious!

The best code comment seen in source code ......

1. ///

/// Class used to work around Richard being a $#!%^&* idiot

/// The point of this is to work around his poor design so that paging will
/// work on a mobile control. The main problem is the BindCompany( ) method,
/// which he hoped would be able to do everything. I hope he dies.


// I dedicate all this code, all my work, to my wife, Darlene, who will
// have to support me and our three children and the dog once it gets
// released into the public.


// Magic. Do not touch.


return 1; /* returns 1 */


/* This is O(scary), but seems quick enough in practice. */


* You may think you know what the following code does.
* But you don’t….Trust me.
* Fiddle with it, and you’ll spend many a sleepless
* night cursing the moment you thought you’d be clever
* enough to "optimize" the code below.
* Now close this file and go play with something else.


//When I wrote this, only God and I understood what I was doing
//Now…God only knows

देवनागरी आणि इतर "इंडिक" लीप्यंकन ...

OK, many of my dreams are coming true. One of the dreams was to be able to type in देवनागरी just on the browser.

Several schemes have been attempted for this to happen. But nothing is as simple as using Google Transliteration API and Firefox and its extension for Indic Translation, written by Sridhar. There is room for improvement (of course) but this is a very good step forward.

For the impatient, here is the recipe:
  1. Dump Internet Explorer. Use Firefox as your web browser. Get it from
  2. Start the Firefox browser.
  3. Click on this link (
  4. Click the (green) button: "Add to Firefox".
  5. A Window will pop-up. After a few seconds, "Install Now" button will activate. Click it.
  6. Firefox would prompt you for "Restarting Firefox". Click that button.
  7. Firefox will restart.
  8. Let's say you log on to your mail client (e.g. Yahoo! Mail, GMail etc.) If you are using Yahoo!, please choose the Plain Text formatting.
  9. After clicking inside the Compose Window, you'll see a block like the one in adjacent image.
  10. Choose a language of your choice and check the check-box. This should get you going. At the end of a "Word" boundary, the transliteration would occur. For example typing "bharat" should show you "भारत".
Thanks to Sridhar and Google Transliteration API!

English: Tip #2

Consider using "the reason (something) (reason)" without an intervening because. This is often violated and the resulting sentence is rather funny to read.

In such sentence, "the reason (something) " should be simplified for it to make sense.

I was rather surprised that Seth ran into this trap!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Beta or Not Beta -- That's the Question ...

GMail -- Are you Beta or Not? Since anyone can create an account now (which implies it is "out of Beta", I guess) do I need to send any invites to anyone?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Life: a Journey To Be Grateful About ...

I am so grateful having watched one of the greatest Tennis matches ever. After Roger Federer won his first French Open title, I just could not help myself and tears rolled down my eyes, just like his. Of course, I am one of his countably infinite fans, but this feeling is a genuine one. I celebrated his victory just like he would, with those tears of joy. It's rare (yes, rare) that a true champion is loved, respected, bitterly fought against by others. He is one such gem and I am just fortunate to be watching him play, lose and ultimately prevail. I am so glad that he left no doubt and gave no chance to biased sports critics who would not hesitate to brand him a bad player had he not won his fourteenth Grand Slam title.

Similar feelings have gripped me when several remarkable things have happened in life, sports or otherwise. Vishy Anand's becoming the World Chess Champion, Pete Sampras's fourteenth Grand Slam Title, several of Sachin Tendulkar's triumphant innings ... All victories and defeats are so enjoyable.

It's exactly like what Poet Bokar said:

भाग्य केवढे, आपुली चाले यातूनच यात्रा!
(We are so fortunate to do carry out the journey of life amidst such marvels).

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Carol, please fix Classic Yahoo! Mail ...

It's annoying when the URL's you send in your e-mail are mangled by your web-mail client. Yahoo! Mail client does exactly that and annoys you so much that it's even worse than annoyance caused by a dumb motorist in front of you (while driving). To those Yahoo! Mail developers who don't yet see it --
  1. Use your software to send e-mails to a Yahoo! group or others.
  2. Just put a link to web-page to it.
Upon receiving the e-mail, the URL not only does not remain clickable, but also is rendered virtually useless because some space characters are inserted in it. Come on! How hard is it to recognize something to be a link in an e-mail content? Yahoo! Mail support is surprising useless in dealing with this issue. Worse than Comcast support!

This is one of those bugs in Yahoo! Mail's HTML composer that keeps me from using it. This is one of the reasons (little annoyances here and there) GMail is likely to surpass Yahoo! Mail in terms of use, pretty soon. The Classic Yahoo! Mail was changed to use a wad of JavaScript based new client and that is even worse because it is way too bulky.

Carol -- don't waste the head-start you once had in web-mail use. Or have you already given up on it?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

What is permanent and what changes ...

This is one of the questions that always intrigue me. I believe in the sentiments expressed in this great quote:
There is only one thing that is permanent and that's change.
But this quote is a source of confusion as well. While changing something, you need to rely on something else that you consider permanent and build on top it. For someone else, this set might be different. Thus, what changes and what's permanent is a matter of perspective of someone who creates something.

Thus, creators create things from nothing and unleash them. The world then upholds them or not. That means the world subscribes (or not) to the change that the creator has brought about. To embrace the change, we apply some techniques like:
  • The change should solve the problems with current system while doing all the functions it already does.
  • It is more beautiful, which is a matter of taste. But sometimes, beauty is abstract.
Or, you simply think that a change is a breath of fresh air and commit to changing the way you do things even if you run the risk of changing something that isn't broken!

It's this obsession with change that fuels creativity that drives the world.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Be Terse ...

If you read Seth Godin's blog, first thing you notice is his ability to be remarkably terse. I wish I had that skill.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

English Usage: Tip 01

English is not my first language. But having lived the language for better part of life, I observe pattern in its usage by its users, especially in writing. So much has been written about "English Writing" that a newcomer like me would be discouraged to write anything any more. But that's not what I am trying to achieve with these posts. It's just a set of observations I have made. It's just an attempt to provide simpler alternatives to convoluted usage without loss of intended meaning. I am doing it in the same vein as the great Patricia O'Conner does it in her seminal book, Woe is I (of course, with much more capacity and capability).

Of course, this is a daunting task and I make no claims of its success or validity. Linguists and English language professors and other references should be consulted for the same, but hey -- it's my blog and I am not fooling around. It's an expression of "nobody" observing something. I will try not to make my own mistakes while I post, and I provide a blanket apology for the same right here ;).

So, without any further ado, here I go.

Tip 01
I see use of these kinds of requests ...,


We're trained to respond to these kinds of requests with a sharp intake of breath.

I often stumble upon such use. Questions like "is singular (this kind) more appropriate than the plural?" trickle to my mind.

Doesn't just the same get captured with:

We're trained to respond to such requests with a sharp intake of breath.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

What's wrong with

While reading the enjoyable Agile Web Development book, I came across the word perversion. Of course, I started looking for its meaning on, by using the search engine addon on Firefox.

The first thing I realize is the clutter they have added to the site. Wow. If the caret browsing is on, you just can't use the site. I almost decide that I should now devise a new model for displaying paid advertisements and actual content better. Anyway, I will bite the bullet and turn the caret browsing off. I press on to understand meaning of this word: Perversion

Here is what I find:

  1. the act of perverting.
  2. the state of being perverted.
  3. ....
OK, so I need to look into what pervert means. Sadly, there is no double clicking on the word to look a word up. So, I either choose it from the related word list or look "pervert" up explicitly. And this is what I get:

  1. to affect with perversion.
  2. to lead astray morally.
  3. ...

Put literally, the first bullet point on pervert means -- to affect with "the act of perverting". Does that even make any sense?

Again, there is no criticism of this web-site (which I use heavily) meant here and I have no relationship with their business. I have no business affecting their traffic. It's a subtle usability observation about the web-site and probably structure of English Dictionaries in general. Why can't the first given meaning be the one a dictionary user would look for? I mean if Google weren't to put the most relevant search result at the top, how good would they be?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Start leaving your mobile phone somewhere!

Google (as a company) keep on coming up with something. They have to try out different things, believe in them and see if we believe in them too. Of course, we believe in their search prowess. But do we believe in everything they have done? Of course not. And again, they are trying out several things on the basis of lot of intellect and money that they (sort of) own. Sometimes, their judgment is bound to go wrong.

Take the case of Google Latitude for instance. Unless you are like me (a forgetful soul), you might repent sharing your physical location with your near and dear ones. Seriously. And it is even more unfortunate to see official Google Blog saying something like

So now you can do things like see if your spouse is stuck in traffic on the way home from work ...

Pardon my language, but WTF? On a crowded highway, what are you going to achieve by seeing(if you are a strong believer in seeing is believing, that is) that your spouse is caught in a traffic jam? We (still) don't have the technology to muster a Star Trek fame Teleportation. So, what is it that you are going to achieve? That the dear one who has shared her physical location with you is really where she says she is? 

I am telling you, you need to be forgetful like I am. If you are not, you need to pretend to forget belongings when desired. Or maybe (hopefully) in a year from now, people will defeat Google Latitude.