I said the above words and that is how my marriage got fixed and is going to happen on
9 February 2014. 😀

What made it even more special was that it happened on her birthday.

If you are living in a major city in India like Bangalore and have visited malls, you might have noticed that lucky draw coupons are offered to whoever enters the mall. A lot of us have at least once filled in those coupons with our name and phone number and handed them over. Have we ever realized that they give the coupons for everyone who enters the mall whether they buy anything or not. Sounds fishy?

If you did enter yourself in such a lucky draw, a few days or weeks later you would get a call from an unknown number declaring you as one of the prize winners in the lucky draw and that you could collect the prize by visiting some location that is mentioned. If you’re an unmarried person, you would be told that only a couple can come and collect the prize. You would even be suggested to send a couple who could be related to you or be your friends or anyone who would do it for you.

A lot of people would be put off by the “couple” requirement and possibly by the prize distribution location’s distance from your home. If you weren’t, you’d be promised thoroughly that there wouldn’t be any hidden clauses or conditions to collect the prize. To enlighten people faced with similar situations, here’s my experience in pursuing it further.

A few times I hadn’t trusted the whole lucky draw and “you have won a prize, no hidden clauses or conditions” thing and ignored it. But my mother, new to the city and its happenings, was always intrigued by this lucky draw prize thing and wanted to pursue it further and see what happens.

So recently when I got a similar call from an unknown caller proclaiming that my mother had won a prize and the same blah blah blah, I told my mother about it and asked her if she was interested in venturing out to collect the prize. She was very much interested and since the prize distribution location that they mentioned was not too far away from my place, I decided to join my parents.

After we reached the landmark near which the gift distribution location was supposed to be located, we found nothing at all. I called the “you’ve won a prize” messenger again and asked him about the location. He apologized and asked us to travel further and reach an another location a couple of kilometers away. Even at that time he didn’t give the exact details of the location. Since we were motivated to see it through to completion, we boarded a bus and went to the new location. Nope, nothing there anywhere in the vicinity of the place he had asked us to get down.

On calling him again, he gave instructions to walk in one particular direction till we come near a “Country Club Resort” and enquire the security guard at the resort who would show us the location. My radar smelled something fishy at the mention of “Country Club” but my parents were still imagining a building near the Country Club resort where the prizes would be distributed. We reached the Country Club resort and the guard asked us to go to the underground parking lot of the resort.

There was a small office operating there and I could see a few couples coming in and going out. I went in and asked the receptionist about the gift and a we were asked to wait. A few minutes later we were told that there would be a presentation for an hour’s time at the end of which we could collect our prize. My innocent parents were imagining some prize distribution ceremony that could be an hour long with a lot of guests and speakers. Kaboom! Back to reality! We were then taken into a room full of small round tables with chairs around them. There were couples seated in each of those tables talking to one “presenter” and there was blaring music.

We sat in one of those tables with one of those presenters, who told us about our prize – a kitchen item and a couple of sponsored items from Country Club. He told us that we would be getting our prizes at the end of his presentation on a promotional offer provided by Country Club and that we would be getting our prizes irrespective of whether we buy the product being sold. At that moment I realized what we we had gotten into. They had deliberately not revealed “Country Club” till the last moment as a lot of people would have backed off on hearing it.

The salesman asked us some questions to fill in a survey form. Then he kept talking on and on about the benefits of buying a Country Club resort membership under the promotional offer. Since I couldn’t hear him clearly due to the loud music, I kept nodding my head at regular intervals. My parents very much liked his style of presentation, but they never had any intention to go ahead with the offer. So the presenter redirected his focus towards me trying to impress me into buying it. The price was revealed only at the very end of the presentation after about 90 minutes of showcasing exotic holidays, excellent facilities, the convenience and value provided by the Country Club membership and it was a 6 digit figure. The salesman didn’t know that I wouldn’t splash so much money on luxury and entertainment when there are a lot of people with their basic needs unmet. Seeing that I hadn’t yielded he started advertising partial down payments and attractive monthly EMI.

As it was getting late into the night and well past my dinner time, we asked him to complete his presentation and give us the gift so that we could leave. That triggered the strategy of asking us to wait for a couple of minutes to generate the gift vouchers online and while we were waiting, the salesman started trying to convince us to buy. The cycle of being asked to wait a few more minutes for the gift voucher and facing the blatant canvassing continued for about half an hour. It could have continued further if all the other salesmen and their prospective customers weren’t done with their presentation and left the hall.

The couples who had agreed to buy the membership card were taken inside a special room in the office and given prizes and possibly some additional goodies. We were just asked to go out to the parking area and they just dumped the prizes – a gift wrapped box and a couple of vouchers, in our hands and we left the place.

I told my parents that the people behind these “lucky draws” had used the “lucky draw” and the greed of the people to try and win more customers for their product. By following a “gift coupon for everyone” approach, they collected the contact details of thousands of people to canvass them into buying the club membership.

In case you’re still awake and not bored after reading this far and want to know what the gifts were, here are the details. We got a box containing 6 ice cream glass bowls from an unbranded local maker, a voucher for our family to enjoy the facilities at a Country Club resort on a weekday within a month’s time and a free accommodation in 3-5 star hotels on during our holiday tours provided we pay the minimal taxes of about Rs.4000, valid a for a year. The voucher was not signed by a person of authority as required and that made it invalid and useless.

So did we really get free gifts? Nope. We had invested our time and effort and showed a lot of patience in sitting through the “presentation” and also unintentionally gave our names and mobile number to them. Fair enough. Nothing in this world is free. So just think twice before you reveal your personal details in the hope (greed?) of winning a prize without spending a single rupee.

One of the most important lessons that I learnt this year – never put your health at stake no matter what. No, don’t do it even if you are absolutely sure that you will emerge unscathed. I did exactly that at the beginning of this year and now I am wondering if I will ever recover from that. Yeah, I had a lofty sense of righteousness about standing up for something good, blissfully blind to failure and its consequences – the known and unknown. I messed it up pretty bad shattering my health and mind to pieces. After having that near-death experience even without knowing it was one, my daily life was filled with problems hitherto unknown. While my body was recovering from a sudden and serious ailment at its own pace, my mind totally lost it. I was so scared of death and even more of life. I wondered everyday if there will be a tomorrow that I will wake up to. I lost interest in life, for it just seemed an inevitable procession to death. All the emotions – love, hate, affection, anger, happiness no longer made any sense to me. That my body was giving me a different problem every other day or once every few days didn’t help either. I felt really disturbed at having lost all the sense of ignorance and suddenly I was groping thin air trying to find out the purpose of life when it was this futile and meaningless. The people around me were rambling on and on just about what they wanted and there weren’t any comforting shoulders or enlightened minds whose help I could use. Suddenly, it became next to impossible to get interested or involve myself in anything. Even the things that I loved seemed to be nothing more than a vague memory from a distant past. I always had a morbid fear that something was horribly wrong with my body and doctors always seemed to miss finding that out and helping me. I had frequent panic attacks as a result. Hearing about violence, death of even unknown people still affects me very badly and gives me nightmares.

So how did I get out of such a messy state? What makes you think that I got out of it? I have learnt to accept and live with these things. That has eliminated most of the panic. Whatever is remnant, keeps me honest and helps me live life to the fullest. Yeah, health improving a bit has helped reduce the paranoia as well. There have been people who have done their bit to help me and I’m indebted to them.

My father came and lived with me while my health was recovering. He helped me to be very disciplined with my life style as that was of utmost importance at that time. Once my father went back, I learnt to cook on my own and managed to cook for about 6 months, though not for every time in a day. In the initial days, I did try to cook all the time, though gradually it reduced and went through barren periods in between. Starting from just following the procedure to prepare food, I tried out new things and learnt a fair bit about cooking which should keep me in good stead in the future.

Organizing an online treasure hunt contest at office by designing the event, website and conducting it successfully after an initial faux pas helped me get a lot of my confidence back. Visits to my alma mater for server and network administration work and for FStival made me feel as normal and happy as possible. Gradually towards the end of the year, I was back to near normalcy learning about a lot of new stuff and fiddling with them. One regret I have though is that I haven’t been able to contribute anything in terms of writing code or contributing to free software projects. I intend to change that in 2013.

Ever since my beloved Nokia N79 phone slipped out of my hands and fell into the toilet of a running train, I wanted to buy a good smartphone. With the Android boom happening these days, it was just an impulsive buy away. Though I bought my parents a Samsung Galaxy Y last year, I didn’t feel satisfied with a such phone. My mind always craved for a high-end latest smartphone. While Samsung Galaxy S3 captured my imagination and I was always on the verge of buying it, my mind kept reminding me that it wasn’t worth its steep price. The next best phone, Google Galaxy Nexus was at least 10K cheaper, though Samsung decided not to release the phone in India to push S3 as its leading phone. I bought my Galaxy Nexus from eBay India in the last week of August. Galaxy Nexus was a flagship Android phone and provided the pure Android experience straight from the hands of Google, which meant that it will always get updates directly from Google, far ahead of better phones. In the worst case, the phone manufacturer might arbitrarily decide to stop providing software updates to a phone after it is reasonably old, in order to push the newer models. I got my phone within 2 days of ordering and my initial experience was very hesitant, partly because I had never used such a big and powerful phone. I already had a bad history with expensive phones losing them soon after buying them. This phone cost twice as much as my most expensive phone till date. I kept using it only at home, too scared to take it outside. Since I don’t own a vehicle and travel by public transport, I was scared of losing the phone. But with time, I got used to handling it and have been taking it with me wherever I go. But the sad part is, when it rains, I am more worried about my phone getting wet than about me getting drenched. 🙂

After spending a very long time in deliberation, I got myself a server on the internet. It hosts my website and Keirthana’s and an owncloud instance – just for me to try out. I am sharing this server with Bala anna, who named it ‘Knuth’ 🙂 and would be hosting his site on it as well.

My parents opted for voluntary retirement from the service in Indian Railways some time in the middle of the year and have moved in with me at Bangalore last month. That has helped me greatly to lead a better and comfortable life. My gratitude to them as always.

I managed to attend a couple of Bangpypers’ meetings and also PyCon India 2012 which happened in Bangalore. As always, Bala anna participated with me.

Right now I’m at Trichy for the year-end vacation, penning down this post in bits and pieces whenever I have been blessed with electricity supply at home. If I have to blurt out truth plainly, I would have to say that 2012 is by far the worst year of my life, but as always there is a silver lining. I’ve had some really happy moments scattered in between the tough ones during the course of this life-changing year. And all I keep saying to myself is “This will pass. Tough times do not last, tough people do”.  Hoping for a great life ahead and wishing everyone the same.

Ubuntu’s Amazon search “feature” fiasco (Probably I have enough in my mind to write another big post) was the last thread in the straw for me. Switched to Debian Testing with GNOME 3. Surprisingly, GNOME 3 isn’t that bad at all and not much different from Unity. Yeah having to install extensions to achieve some functionality expected to be out of the box, is a bit weird, but is something you can live with.

One thing that isn’t quite up to the mark is the notifications system. Most of the commonly used applications in Ubuntu, like Pidgin, Thunderbird, Gwibber, Transmission, Empathy, make use of the notification system created by Ubuntu. In GNOME 3, that sadly isn’t the case. A lot of work still needs to be done in integrating the applications with the notification system.

Since I have a 8 mbps internet connection at home, installing the proprietary drivers for my NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GS graphics card and proprietary firmware for my Intel® PRO/Wireless 3945ABG wifi adapter was a breeze and went without any issues. I even tweaked GRUB’s resolution and enabled a cool bootsplash screen featuring the Joy theme.

All these years of using my laptop, a couple of times, I did try to move out of Ubuntu, but there was always something that made me come back to Ubuntu in no time. But this time I am having a good experience with Debian Wheezy and GNOME 3 and it’s highly unlikely I will come back to Ubuntu any time soon. Ciao Ubuntu, without doubt you were very good and worked without issues for me ever since I started with Feisty Fawn and I am very happy about that. But now it is time to go.

You have root? I have Debian!

P.S. It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post and to insert this image, I was struggling for minutes together to find the button to do it. It was on the top of the editor and not as a button in the toolbar as I was expecting 🙂

I saw this Diaspora* promotional video posted on Diaspora* (https://diasp.org/posts/463943) and there was a request to translate it to as many languages as possible. Myself and Bala anna thought that we could contribute. So a couple of nights back, we sat together and tried to translate the English subtitles to Tamil. As we progressed sentence by sentence, we realized that we were out of touch with proper Tamil, though we have lived most of our lives in Tamil Nadu. There were a lot of words in English that we didn’t remember or couldn’t find out the Tamil equivalent. Google Transliterate and Google Translate came to our help. The challenge with using Google Translate was that it gave us the literal translation of the words and not the actual meaning that English sentences conveyed. So we had to add our own touch to a lot of the words that showed up on Google Translate. For example, I translated ‘Social Network’ to ‘???? ????????????’ but I have no idea if it is correct. Constructing words creatively was so much fun that hours went by without either of us noticing. We also took liberty to rename the characters Zoey and Finn to ???? and ??????? as they were much more Tamil-friendly 😉 There were some sentences and words that were extremely challenging – “personal profiles, groups, apps, mobile interface, mentions, ash texts, re-sharing , and on top, there is social network’s integration”. Now how would you translate that? :mrgreen: See the video to find out.

Though the subtitle used in the video does leave out some of the words and meaning from the original transcript, I did have a version that translated it fully. 🙂 The subtitle is hosted on GitHub and please help us in improving the quality of the translation. YouTube has mangled the Tamil text and spelling in some places while displaying the caption, but the GitHub repository should have the correct text.

I feel an immense sense of happiness and satisfaction in contributing to a wonderful initiative! If you have any issues in watching the embedded video, you could watch it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4mMSxWEnjU. Do turn on the Tamil subtitles and give me your feedback. 🙂

Update: Almost 2.5 years after deleting my Facebook account and writing this post, I have gone back to Facebook and created a new account for myself. This time I will be mainly a passive viewer on Facebook and WhatsApp (which I joined a bit earlier) and keep myself protected from Facebook’s evil designs by doing everything necessary. Details are probably long enough to warrant write a separate post some time later 🙂

I am really glad that my parting message inspired a few of my friends to join Diaspora on one of the pods (http://diasp.org). Here is the message for the benefit of those who didn’t read it before I deleted my account. It strengthens my belief that we can empower our friends with freedom.

As a birthday gift to myself, I am quitting Facebook and deleting my account.

Why? Facebook (and a lot of other websites) tracks and stalks the users (and non-users too, through shadow profiles) all over the internet and make money by selling information about you and targeting advertisements at you. The kind of evil things they do, I am too offended to even list here.

I want to be in full control of my data and privacy, which is why I wanted to quit Facebook about 6 months back. But I decided to wait till my birthday so that I can pass on the message to my Facebook friends who visit my wall to wish me on my birthday.

I already use a lot of anti-tracking measures – Using Facebook only in incognito mode, using a lot of browser extensions like Ghostery, Facebook blocker and browser settings to keep the tracking to a minimum. The all-pervasive Facebook social plugins which put “Like” buttons on all websites are pure evil. They help Facebook to track your internet activities – what websites you visit, what links you click, what your interests are and much more.

I am interested in getting to know more about people whom I have encountered in my life and also to find interesting people. But Facebook barely facilitates that. My ‘News feed’ is full of spam from an ever-growing list of Facebook applications, scam/spam/porn posts broadcast across friends by friends who are smart enough to be easily fooled by such things and Youtube videos, celebrity photos and etc. which I am totally not interested in. Previously there used to be a filter for the news feed through which only the status updates could be viewed, but Facebook has removed it.

Facebook never deletes the user data from its servers even after the user deletes own account. That doesn’t matter to me as I am more bothered about not giving Facebook any more data.

We don’t need a Yahoo! email account to be able to send emails to other Yahoo! users. All that is needed is a valid email account on the internet. But to keep in touch with friends on Facebook or Twitter or Google+ we need accounts on those websites. How sensible is that? There are a lot of other social network which value users’ privacy and also provide inter-operability, meaning you can follow a user on other social network from your current social network. This is possible through a lot of upcoming open standards. Identica (running the StatusNet software), Diaspora are a couple of social networks that provide this feature.

So how do you get in touch with me once I quit Facebook? Those who are in touch with me, already know how to reach me through other means. 🙂 If you are not one of those, but still want to get in touch with me, you will find me on Google+, Twitter, Identica (http://identi.ca/guruprasad) and Diaspora (http://diasp.org/u/guruprasad) and of course my website (//www.lguruprasad.in/) and my blog (//www.lguruprasad.in/blog/). If you are already thinking why I am still on Google+ and Twitter after blabbering about privacy, tracking and control over my data, just hold on. I am on my way to get out of those too pretty soon 🙂

She stood by the moonlit window, silently looking out to the beyond, not looking anywhere in particular, but lost in thought. Sigh! She let out a slow, long-drawn breath and looked back at the little boy, sleeping peacefully on her bed. The innocence and peacefulness touched her. She has never been gifted such kind of peacefulness. The ghosts from her past always haunted her. The mistakes she did, the chances that she missed, the opportunities she let go, in front of her very eyes. All the time knowing that she will never be at peace ever again and that life will never be the same ever again.

She wished from the depth of her soul that she knew better. How better life would have been if she knew that Aakash was the one for her. They both were in love and were a happy couple until Vinay came along. Blinded by a trance and urged by the separation from Aakash, she slowly lost her sanity and fell for Vinay. She could not believe how it happened. She still could not fathom how she went astray. Her love for Aakash had been so pure. Yet, how did this happen? That is one question to which no one had an answer. Aakash had tried to make sense with her, fought hard with her to make her see that she was willingly going to destroy her life. He fought with all he had. He never gave up. But, she refused and brushed him away so strongly that she broke him to pieces.

What happened after that was just a swirl. She has pushed away Aakash so hard that he could not dare to come back to her and reason with her. And in her trance, she was in temporary bliss. And then, slowly it had happened. Before she knew, the trance was over. The mist lifted and she saw the truth. She was crushed. She kept thinking that it was a bad nightmare and she would wake up soon and find herself in Aakash’s warm arms soon. But, that never happened and she realized the implications of what she had done with her life. Life had presented such a golden chance to her as to none else. She was so lucky to get Aakash. They knew each other from their childhood and so made for each other. How could she have been so blind all of a sudden and thrown all that away? That was a question that she had been searching an answer for so long, but never got one. And she knew, she never will.

After she realized the truth, she could no longer stand to live. Many things happened and all she remember now was being all alone, all of a sudden with not a single soul to care about her or for her to care about. She realized Vinay was not “The guy” for her. She should have known better or at least she should have listened to Aakash. She searched high and low for Aakash, not to get back, but to apologize. Because she knew, she does not have the worth to be his. She was that pathetic. She was sick of herself. On the outside, she just dragged herself on with her life. Inside, she was dying every day, cringing at what she had done. That was when she had met the little boy, nameless, homeless and helpless on the road. She had adopted him and named him after Aakash. Since then, she has been holding on to life only for 2 causes. One, to find Aakash and apologize and the next to bring up little Aakash to be a citizen of whom the nation would be proud of. Except that, she has no reason to live for. She sighed heavily and decided to let her tired body to rest. As sleep took over, she knew that the ghosts from her past will visit her again, tomorrow.

Until later,

Keirthana 🙂

P.S: My first guest post and that too @ The Midnight Sun! 🙂 I know I have turned a geeky, almost-technical blog to a different genre, by starting off with a story 😛 Hope you like it 🙂

Ubuntu Oneiric Ocelot is out! I have used Ubuntu on my laptop since the 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon release and every release would get me excited like a kid would on seeing new toys. I would try to do a dist-upgrade or download the ISO image to install it using my USB drive. Ubuntu repositories would be under heavy load and I would egging my package manager to download all the packages faster and faster and it would be well past midnight by the time when I go to bod after I am done with the installation and setup.

This time things are way better. I already have Ubuntu Oneiric installed on my laptop! 🙂 I am spared of the downloads and the midnight tussles that I had to go through so that my laptop will have a spanking new Ubuntu to use the next day. But all this luxury didn’t come without pain.

Oneiric Ocelot


When I installed Oneiric Ocelot beta 1 release, the Unity port to Gnome 3 was totally broken and unusable. Most actions done on the desktop would cause Unity, Compiz or some GNOME 3 component to crash. There was also a serious issue of focus change between open windows and the desktop wherein switching between windows was not possible at all.  All I could do with the desktop was to report bugs. There started a marathon of non-stop bug reports and daily updates which were often more than 50 MB in size. I cursed Ubuntu like anything on social networks and had lengthy arguments with my friends over there. I reported more than 50 bugs most of which were centered on Unity and Compiz. There was a provision to install a Classic GNOME fallback mode, but it was more of an emulation layer on top of GNOME 3.x and not a full-fledge GNOME 2.x environment. When I decided to try GNOME shell, I found that it had too many rough edges and wasn’t integrated properly with Ubuntu.

All this led to a stage where I almost decided to quit Ubuntu for good. But wait, did I have an alternative distro that I could switch to? Nope. Debian and Fedora were the only candidates that I was considering. Being used to the Debian world for so long, Fedora didn’t excite me enough. Debian? Debian would be good, but a lot of effort would be required to get it working with my nVidia graphics card by installing the proprietary drivers. Nouveau is a promising project that aims to provide libre drivers for nVidia, but isn’t fully mature yet and has its share of issues. Also with Debian stable, I would be lagging behind the latest releases of most of the software. I could install “testing” or “sid” if I wanted to live on the bleeding edge, but the experience with Ubuntu Oneiric Ocelot beta left me hesitant to proceed in that direction though Debian would be way more stable. So I just decided to wait a bit for the bugs to get fixed and things to improve. Things did improve gradually with the daily updates which some times introduced new bugs. That the Ubuntu team was working in full swing towards a release free of critical and usability bugs was obviously visible while observing the bug transitions and updates. About 2-3 days back, the updates stopped as expected and Oneiric Ocelot was ready to gallop towards today’s grand release. And with today’s release, Ubuntu has succeeded in bringing a very good release that sets an exciting road-map for the upcoming LTS release aptly named “Precise Pangolin” due for release next April. My hearty congratulations to all those who made awesome release possible, contributing in myriad ways.

Will I try Precise Pangolin in its beta stage? Of course I will 🙂

Chetan Bhagat has tried to create his style of love story with a strong message relevant to the present and has botched up both. The novel proceeds through a fairly linear plot. While that can be good at times, it provides very little scope for the reader to get a better view from other perspectives and hence the plot is as shallow as it could be. Incidents between the protagonist and his love interest is so clichéd and would be predictable even for those who haven’t read Chetan Bhagat’s previous better books. Focus on the message part of the plot is too little and I doubt if the intensity will make the readers to feel attached to it.

Revolution 2020 - Love, Corruption, Ambition

There isn’t much of the wit and light-hearted humour that were a key ingredient to the success of Chetan Bhagat’s books. The author has already proved that he can successfully touch the hearts of so many people and that is why a lot of people will still end up liking this book.