Microblogging has become a rage with the advent and success of Twitter which had a tagline – “What are you doing?”. Gradually it has become a platform for information sharing and communication. People have started sharing interesting and relevant links that they come across on the web which get shared again and again multiple times, disseminating information unimaginably fast to a large target audience. Microblogging imposes a limit on the number of characters in a message and hence the traditional URLs on the internet are very long and unsuitable for sharing over microblogging. So in came a series of URL shortening services that accepted a long, microblogging unfriendly URLs and gave out a URL much shorter in size which could be used on microblogging platforms and are print-friendly. What actually happens in the background is that, these URL shortening services create a short URL and map it to the long URL and whenever the short URL is referenced, the URL shortening services do a 301 redirect to the actual URL so that it opens.

There are a lot of aspects to this URL shortening services that most of the users don’t realize/are unaware of. One of the very important issues is that these shortened URLs are capable of breaking the internet. A shortened URL in a tweet for instance, may be a dangling link to nowhere if the corresponding URL shortening service purges its database or stops providing the service. A lot of popular URL shortening services are closing either because they can’t handle spammers’ abuse or they couldn’t make enough money out of the service to keep it running. Read about Link rot to get more details. This might also result in us losing the link that we wanted to share. The URL shortening services also provide client APIs to use their services which makes them more vulnerable to abuse and spamming.

Also shortened URLs hide the target link that we are trying to open, which could be a malicious one, which in its normal form most of us wouldn’t open. Nowadays the URL shortening services provide an option to preview the links before opening them, but there is a big question mark over how many users actually use that feature. Another significant issue is that the URL shortening services add an additional layer of indirection, an unreliable middleman, which adds to more DNS lookups and server hits and hence more traffic on the internet.

One of the possible ways to mitigate the evils of URL shortening is that every website could provide shortened URLs for its own content so that there is no need for a separate URL shortening service standing in the middle. This could reduce dangling links created due to issues with the third-party URL shortening service. For instance, every post on this blog has its own long URL and a corresponding short URL under the same domain. This makes sure that as long as the domain of this website is up, the shortened URLs too will be pointing to valid pages and hence lesser chances of link rot happening.

I got to know all these stuff while I was creating a URL shortening client application that uses the APIs of popular URL shortening services to create shortened URLs. I have decided to use URL shortening services very sparingly, only for ephemeral stuff or when there is a need to shorten a URL to meet the character limits of microblogging services. Hope this post will make the readers aware of the various aspects of URL shortening services so that they will use it very sparingly.

I’m at Bangalore now and in a couple of days’ time, will be joining my job here. For now I’m staying at a relative’s place, but soon will move to a place near to my office with my friends and face life on my own. My employer has been kind enough to provide guest house accommodation for a week’s time within which i’ll find a place to stay. I’m slightly unprepared for the life ahead, but still with a bit of focus, should do good. There are going to be a lot of new things that’re going to enter my life in place of loved, familiar ones and I’ll need some time for my mental conditioning. Otherwise I’m all excited about the job and the challenges it holds for me. I’m going to be in full control of my life from now and I realize that it is indeed a great responsibility. Kannada being my mother tongue will make me feel slightly better and help me acclimatize easily. I’m so grateful to those who have made my life wonderful so far and with all prayers and good hope, i think i’ll make even better from now on.:-)

It’s been a month since I left TCE, my college, and already I am missing a lot from that life like:

1. UNIX Lab at CSE Department. Sitting and working there forever for long duration on weekdays, weekends, nights and the amount of learning that I did at the lab made me what I am and the chill AC that always makes me want to stay there on and on.

2. Yeah my small friends’ circle. I do miss them too much to express in words.

3. Hostel life – the comfort in the shabby room, sleeping and waking up at odd hours, competing with Raju on who wakes up late, skipping food, eating the sub-standard food and complaining about it with friends, cursing the warden and hostel management about how they are swindling money and doing nothing for the students’ welfare.

4. Lying on my bed like a L and working on and on forever with my laptop on my lap.

5. Responsibility as student server admin.

6. Those long, too frequent phone calls with Keirthana, Venkatakrishnan and other friends with Airtel mobiles. 🙂

7. Hacking around with computers and downloading loads and loads of stuff through the college Internet. 😉

8. Troubling Bala anna on chat and pestering him for some help or ??????  ???.

9. Relishing the role of only person at TCE who sends emails to mailing lists regularly and follows up and a lot of times gets a lot of snub.

10. Sitting and talking with G.R. Karthik and Varadharajan, giving them advice, helping them and at times scolding them. 😉

11. My 105 machine and fighting with hostel wifi to get connected and access the internet and all the associated mischief .:-P

12. Not preparing for the exam on the night before the exam and sleeping early with the intention of waking up early and studying, but waking up late the next day and facing the exams after studying nothing.

and much more. I miss the life I had lived at TCE for the four years, but life has to move on and there is nothing that can be done about that. So just looking with guarded optimism at the life ahead.

Mr. and Mrs. Iyer Poster

I had heard of ‘Mr. and Mrs. Iyer’ as a critically acclaimed film that won a lot of awards and tonight I had a chance to watch it, about 8 years after its release. The movie a strong theme and a decent story on top of it. Yeah there were a lot of loose ends that one could point at, but considering that the movie was released in 2002, post Gujarat riots in 2001, one could imagine the depth the filmmaker had tried to portray. The movie does fade away from its theme – ‘the communal riots’, but stopping short of pointing accusing fingers or trying to offer a solution is a good thing indeed and it does a more reality to the movie as the lead characters are not hero and heroine! The thin layer of romance involved was more of a filmy thing, but the emotions weren’t so filmy, so I could digest it, seeing the movie as a medium of entertainment where logic can always be excused to tolerable levels. As usual there were clichés regarding south Indians, Tamilians, Hindus and Brahmins, but in the context of the movie they were okay.

Konkona Sen Sharma’s performance showing myriad emotions and putting a lot of effort into the role making it seem real thoroughly deserved the National award it won her, that too in the days where heroines are restricted to glamour, songs and wooing the heroes in the itsy bitsy time they are given in the screen beside the “larger than life” heroes. Rahul Bose’s calm unflustered performance jells in well with Konkona’s and the movie. This movie is one of the better movies I have watched and congrats to Aparna Sen and her team for making a different and good movie, I am glad I watched it.

P.S. I have taken to watching loads of movies of late and want to write about every single good movie that I watched, but unfortunately this is the only one that has made it here till, rest are only on my tweets

I’ve been here at Madurai for the past 4 years for my education and I hadn’t visited அழகர் கோவில் and பழமுதிர்சோலை even once in this time. I vaguely remember visiting பழமுதிர்சோலை when I was a little kid. So I had it up there on my wishlist for quite a long time and yesterday Senthil had told me about his plan to go to the temple. I wasn’t ready for the German class and the test today and had decided to bunk the class to escape the test and a boring, long session. I didn’t have any plan to go to the temple though I had told Senthil that I’d try to come if I woke up on time. So when I got SMS from Senthil and when Prabhu came to my room to remind me, I suddenly thought for a moment and decided to go. We all had our breakfast and started for the temple at 9.30. About an hour and half later we were at the temple.

அழகர் கோவில்
அழகர் கோவில்

We visited the deities at the அழகர் கோவில் and then started our trekking towards the பழமுதிர்சோலை முருகன் கோவில், it was a long exhausting walk up the hill along rocky terrain and steep slope. My calf muscles were resisting my every step forward, but still with company and enthusiasm in my mind, we reached the temple after 45 minutes of trekking. The shrine was very small, too small to tell the truth, and we had a peaceful dharshan. When we were about to leave the temple, Senthil saw the அன்னதானம் மண்டபம் and suggested that we could have lunch there and we were lucky enough to be taking up the last few places available. The food was minimal and good and definitely more delicious and palatable than what is offered at hostel ( 😉 ). Then Senthil suggested going to the நூபுர கங்கை shrine that was a bit higher up the terrain from the temple. Once we started walking up, we realized how drastically steep the way up was and we had to use all the energy from the lunch to make our limbs labour ahead. Once we reached there we decided to take bath in the water and did so. It was so soothingly pleasant in the hot weather. We thoroughly enjoyed getting soaked in the water and started our trek down after drying ourselves a bit. The trek downwards was exerting in a different way due to the inverted slope. On the way down, we stopped near a tree which a had a board that read – ‘ஔவைக்கு சுட்ட பழம் வேண்டுமா, சுடாத பழம் வேண்டுமா என்று கேட்டு காட்சி தந்த இடம்’! We took photographs of ourselves standing beside the tree and then the tree itself and continued the trek downwards listening to the music playing on Prabhu’s mobile.

ஔவையிடம் சுட்ட பழம் வேண்டுமா சுடாத பழம் வேண்டுமா என்று முருகன் கேட்ட மரம்
ஔவையிடம் சுட்ட பழம் வேண்டுமா சுடாத பழம் வேண்டுமா என்று முருகன் கேட்ட நாவல் மரம்
Myself and Prabhu
Myself and Prabhu

We reached அழகர் கோவில் in about 40 minutes and returned to hostel by a long and tiresome bus journey. The entire trip, though tremendously exhausting, was worthy and memorable. For the rest of the snaps taken during the trip, click here

விண்ணை தாண்டி வருவாயா’ as a movie doesn’t even score the pass mark. But as something portraying a relationship between 2 persons with their own faults, it scores much more. But love is much more than ‘love at first sight’, ‘hugs’ and ‘kisses’ that come a bit too often in the movie. The hesitations and indecisiveness are very much there in real life love too though many can’t appreciate it. The movie was irritating at a lot of times with a lot of cliches and a gross portrayal of love at times – but real life can be more unrealistic at times. So ‘விண்ணை தாண்டி வருவாயா’ doesn’t deserve the ‘likes’ and ‘hates’ it has got. It is just a movie, go watch it. If you can’t take it, just feel free to walk out any time. 🙂

The music is really wonderful as ever with A.R. Rahman and the visuals were really nice, so the credit goes to the cameraman. This is an effort that needs to be appreciated for breaking away from the paradigms of Tamil cinema, though it is nowhere near perfection.

On the backdrop of Sachin Tendulkar’s undefeated double hundred in an ODI, a lot of issues on how a lot of people consider Tendulkar have started getting to me, hence this post. The first thing that is so often said about the genius is that ‘he always plays for himself’. The surprising thing is that a lot of those who say such mean things don’t have anything to back it. Is playing for your country in the World Cup a couple of days after your father’s death called ‘selfish’ or can any of those persons who claim Tendulkar is a selfish player quote where he has played selfishly to cause India to lose a match.

Some other group of people may say that Indian team winning is more important than Sachin Tendulkar playing well, yeah I do agree. But they also make a silly statement that ‘If it is India or Tendulkar, I will choose India’. Yeah I appreciate their patriotism, but isn’t supporting a fellow human, a fellow Indian who also has the same amount of patriotism, equally important. I know India is country which takes pride in ‘Unity in diversity’ and that everyone is entitled to freedom of expression and thought, but it is really *bad* to use it to sling mud on someone who is as patriotic and far more skilled! Anyone know how it is to face a Shoaib Akthar or a menacing Dale Steyn at full throttle and still come out with blazing guns? Can someone shoulder the expectations of a nation of about billion people for more than twenty years on the trot and still be successful more often than not?

Also there was a lot of noise caused when BCCI, a few years ago, famously mentioned that ‘all the players of the cricket team represented BCCI and not India!’ To the people who think so, I would point my middle finger at them and swear obscenely! Sportsmen with supreme skill and mastery deserve whole-hearted appreciation without any man-made boundaries and barriers – I love Roger Federer as much as I love Tendulkar and I am more attached to Tendulkar as he is a fellow Indian. He is a fine man on and off the field and definitely a role model for a lot of budding Indians!

Political crap often use a lot of issues to stay in the news or to play communal politics to keep the foolish voters enchanted like ‘Sachin belongs to Maharashtra first and not India before it!’ and all those assorted and canned trash. I have a few interesting thoughts in my mind regarding the whole issue:

1. How can Sachin Tendulkar play for India without scoring runs? He scores runs for India to win. Definitely a person who has played cricket for so long with undying passion knows more about cricket and playing than those noise-makers.

2. Aren’t ‘countries’ man-made boundaries for political and other reasons causing irreconcilable separation between people?  Even still, aren’t countries made up of people?

3.  Isn’t humanity more important than anything else – even patriotism?

4. When you can’t appreciate one of your own for his achievements what the hell are you going to do with your so-called patriotism? Imo, patriotism was a man-made creation to keep people united within the man-made boundaries.

If you can’t appreciate someone, just STFU!