December 28, 2007

Backpacking across Andhra Land

Just came back from a solo-tour to Andhra Pradesh.

Places covered :
Vijayawada - Vishakapatnam - Araku - Borra - Bhadrachalam - Warangal
Budget - 2K INR.

Travelled around 3k Kms by bus over a span of 5 days and am back home now. Going solo was a kinda good experience...life does teach loads of things.....

Will upload the pictures and the details of the tour asap.

[Am planning on a 2 day tour to Central TamilNadu....probably....Trichy/Tanjore.... ;) over the weekend ]

December 25, 2007

Cross Country biking - India

I happened to met Shree almost a year back in The Bangalore Trekkers Orkut group, and then we used to scrap each other occasionally , and then we met during Bangalore Barcamp 4 wherein he shared his gyaan on cycles and riding them and some kewl gadgets. I knew that he was a geek and a great appetite for whatever he was into ... he had already done Bangalore-Ahemedabad and Chennai-Kolkata on his cycle.

Now, he is on cross country - Arunachal Pradesh to Gujarat. As of this writing , i guess he should be in Assam-W.Bengal border - should have done around 1100 km in the last 12 days.

I wish him all the best and sincerely hope that he finishes it. His blog.

December 07, 2007

Dress Code and Programming

Justin talks about the Dress code by some of the whos-who in the programming 'fraternity' - some of the greatest minds who have contributed to Computer Science Programming for what it is today. It is a comprehensive collection of the people who have either designed a new programming language/framework or have contributed immensely to the concepts in CS.

Essentially these are the characteristics:
1) bearded
2) long haired
3) casually dressed visionaries

Analysis w.r.t me :
#1 - my hairlines continue to recede and hence dont fit in here :(
#2 - though my rate of growth of facial hair is more than that on the head, but the temperate climate in chennai does not allow me to keep the beard for more than 2-3 weeks. .... hence dont fit in here either :(
#3 - i am casually dressed - in fact i dont know what it means..i wear what i suppose is comfortable , and keeps me well ventilated and doesnt emanate a bad odour :D .... am i visionary??

[ what is programming! ;) ]

November 20, 2007

Kindling the Android

Amazon launches Kindle. Jeff Bezo's announcement!

The game(or is it a war???) between Kindle vs Publishing industry (print media) is going to be something that is worth watching now. The arena has been thrown open and i cannot but see the gladiator winning.

Android is interesting. My first rendezvous with Android SDK was interesting.

Is someone thinking along both the lines ;)

November 12, 2007

yada..yada..Yedda

It is sometimes amusing when you see your business idea being implemented by some other firm (and also making money from that). One such thing happened today.

"AOL Gets Into Q&A Business, Acquires Israel’s Yedda"

When i saw this news in my reader, i jumped to read the entire story. Apparently, Yedda's modus-operandi is something similar to what myself and my friend Shravan had thought of 2.5 years back(Wednesday, June 22, 2005 7:40:44 PM to be precise). The idea was baptised as "Gyaan.in" and the idea behind that was :

"Gyaan.in deals with the questions that anyone in the world could have about India, and would employ a group of well read researchers in order to send authentic replies to these questions. Through this, we intend to increase knowledge about this wonderful country, increase opportunities for investment in the country, and hence impact most spheres of the economy in the country."

It was a self-sustaining model with an investment of less than 1Lakh. After careful deliberations and some self-introspection we did not go ahead with the idea and dropped it. I do not repent on the decision made and am sure that there are zillion other opportunities to be tapped.

Gyaan.in inspires me even today as it was my first rendezvous with a good business plan and the passion to start "something-of-my-own". This idea was later converted into a Quiz Blog by me which is totally dormant as of now - this was an attempt to bring in all the quizzing cirles in India under a single banner and promote quizzing as an innovative way of Knowledge Sharing.

November 11, 2007

Mechanism of action

I was watching a show in BBC (10-11am IST,Sunday) on climate change and the host was showing some examples of how we can conserve our environments..humanure...and blah..blah...the usual Greenpeace stuff...But he also claimed that Animals account for 10% of the gas emissions - the Nitrous oxides, methane..etc etc.. He was trying to record the burps and the farts of the cattle :) and observed the statistic.

Now that's what is called as some exploration!! GreenPeace activists -- where r u!!! Alloooooo!!! Is the next slogan going to be "Kill the Cattle-Save the World" ???

For more read this : Flatulence.

Acc this link : "ALASKA - Public flatulence carries a $100 fine. " lol

The Art of Downplaying (Part -1)

It is interesting to see when you let a person win over you, though you know that you can easily win her/him.

One knows that the other person is cheating him , but he still allows the person to cheat him. The cheater is fascinated by his abilities and the bovineness of the victim; the former is elated at his win. But what lurks in the minds of the 'downplayer'!!! No one knows! He loses to win again - return back with a greater impact and totally vanquishing the opponent. Like the phoenix that burns itself to reincarnate.

The Art of Downplaying is a fascinating field of human psychology that amuses me a lot. The complex calculations of a downplayer is very crucial, as his stakes are very high in this strategy. A single mis-calculation can lead to disastrous consequences with zero tolerance of returning back in the game. It is a very fragile and contentious issue and has to be trudged with utmost care.

I also forsee this as an excellent marketing and design strategy - again, with CARE. One announces market for a product , and the same person creates a dumb product (though, he has an excellent one waiting to ambush the market) and leaves it open in the arena. Many new competitors enter the arena. They fight among themselves building more dumb products and creating a huge market in the process; but our strategist lurks in the dark - he is outcasted by others for entering the market with a dumb product and is equally ridiculed. Suddenly, he turns around and announces the advent of the next big thing and creates a market upheaval. (Timing of the launch, type of launch, period of dormancy, timing and type of the re-entrance are the most important parameters here)

Its a check-mate :)

November 07, 2007

Birth of 'EYB'

(05:05:51 IST) Roshan: no way
(05:05:52 IST) Roshan: bye
(05:05:56 IST) Venkat: this game is good
(05:06:00 IST) Venkat: u say something and say bye
(05:06:06 IST) Venkat: we should p[atent it
(05:06:12 IST) Roshan: yes. :P
(05:06:14 IST) Roshan: but now
(05:06:14 IST) Venkat: bye
(05:06:15 IST) Roshan: bye
(05:06:19 IST) Venkat: surebye
(05:06:20 IST) Venkat: bye
(05:06:23 IST) Venkat: bye bye
(05:06:33 IST) Venkat: and 2 consec byes means end of conv.
(05:06:39 IST) Roshan: oh, if you add another bye to that you can be the backstreet boys
(05:06:46 IST) Roshan: prepubescent girls will go nuts
(05:06:50 IST) Venkat: ahhhh!!!
(05:07:07 IST) Venkat: i prefer both pre and post!
(05:07:16 IST) Venkat: so wat should i do!! [eternal damnation]
(05:07:21 IST) Venkat: >>
(05:07:29 IST) Roshan: well think away
(05:07:30 IST) Roshan: bye
(05:07:34 IST) Venkat: we think.. and thinking leads me to say
(05:07:38 IST) Venkat: "eyb"..
(05:07:48 IST) Venkat: we just reverese it.. but its great.. no one will understand it
(05:07:55 IST) Venkat: it will be like ajax...
(05:08:05 IST) Venkat: u say "eyb" and generate user's interest...
(05:08:21 IST) Venkat: ppl will ask u for the explanation and u can give a real prolix interpretation of the same
(05:08:26 IST) Venkat: eyb eyb
(05:08:30 IST) Roshan: wow
(05:08:38 IST) Roshan: the millions in consultancy fees!!
(05:08:40 IST) Roshan: eyb
(05:08:47 IST) Venkat: u got it !
(05:09:01 IST) Venkat: i will give u a 20% stake in it... u may even opt out of it...
(05:09:17 IST) Venkat: lemme check if the domain exists
(05:09:31 IST) Venkat: ahhh!!!
(05:09:45 IST) Venkat: Etobicoke Youth Band ... :(
(05:10:02 IST) Venkat: but still we patent it and sue them
(05:10:39 IST) Roshan: :P
(05:10:43 IST) Venkat: eyb eyb
(05:11:05 IST) Roshan: haha .... :)

October 23, 2007

Sit back and Cry!

Right from the day since i saw the Photosynth demo in one of the TED talks, i wanted to get a feel of this wonderful application. It reminded me of my grad days when i was trying hard to get a 3-d reconstruction of a face from pictures taken at multiple perspectives. I was unable to come up with an algorithm due to the technology bottleneck and the associated memory requirements (Finally, i went on to propose a new algorithm for Face Recognition, but i wasn't satisfied with the results as i had made some assumptions which were not practical in the real life ...anywayz... life went on). My machine was just a 64MB, 733 Intel P3 machine. I knew that this was a very interesting area and anyone how could come up with a kicka$$ algorithm would rake in millions(and billions).

I went to M$ Live labs to check the progress made on this software and get a hands-on.

I was more than happy when i saw the 'Try It' link. The browser refreshed and i got this error :
"Windows XP SP2 and Vista Only

The Photosynth technology preview runs only on Windows XP SP2 and Windows Vista.

If you feel you've reached this message in error, you can try anyway."

Am i pushed to the darkest corners of the Earth ... can someone hear me .... alllo.... why is this piece of software OS dependent!!!!

October 08, 2007

Choosin a Startup to Work for

With the successful marketing of Ajax and the associated Web 2.0 confusion, the profusion of startups is quite understandable. Under these circumstances, it is very much natural that a growing number of enthusiasts wish to work in a startup and make some good quick money (stock options, et al) along with a good learning curve. Choosing a startup to work for is equally important as desciding whether to start a new company or not. Though the experience of working in a startup is quite exhilarating , it should be well understood that it has equally greater impact on the career that one chooses.

I wish to enumerate certain DO's and DONT's while choosing to work in a startup and how to evaluate them and take suitable course of action :

- Decide on your priorities in life ; i.e., whether you are ready to sacrifice (trade-offs) certain 'privileges' for the sake of other benefits. This should be brainstormed well and all the possible outcomes (+ve and -ve) should be well examined. There are lots of options that you may need to consider - few for eg., working long late hours, money, relationships(bf, gf ;) ), travel etc.

- Do a personal SWOT analysis - find out your forte` and weaknesses. W.r.t, the IT Industry , find out the domain that interests you the most and how much experience you have in that domain. Are you well versed with the techinical intricacies and troubleshooting. What is your skill level in the field of interest and what is your skill level in the domain that you are currently working in(it is so often possible that your area-of-interest does not coincide with the area-in-which-you-are-currently-working).

- Identify the Startups that are working in the intended area of interest. Usually word-of-mouth or good social networks helps one in identifying startups and their fundamentals. Also, being a member of the social forums(Yahoo/ Google groups) helps in identifying the startups operating in and around the intended-area-of-work. Blogs often provided a greater insight into these.

- Once you have identified a set of startups that match your critieria(this is done by a simple visit to their website and getting an idea of what the company is into), try to get a contact who is working in that firm. Have a chat with him/her over a cuppa-caffine and understand how they operate and the working conditions.

- If things look fine and you have identified your prospective employer, fix up an interview/meeting with the person who runs the show or the manager in charge. During the course of the interview(either before-during-after) do express your interest to work in the firm for 1-2 days [probably over the weekend, since most of the startups work all days ;) ] so that you get a feeling of the nature of work and also you can exhibit your skills. Mostly this step will be well appreciated and the firm will accept it.

- The 1-2 days that you are going to work in the startup is very-very important and crucial for it decides on the future course of action that you might need to take.
Try to find out the intentions of the show-runners (i.e, whether they want to make some quick bucks by creating a product and selling it or want to sustain in the market - i prefer the latter to the former, as i believe that once the focus shifts to selling the company, innovation takes a backseat and one just works towards getting a larger client base and leaving the product innovation behind).
Try to find the attitude of the 'prospective' co-workers. What is the skill level of these people and whether they really know what they are doing and whether they are competent to do what they are asked to do. How will they match you or you with them. It often helps to work with highly talented people(NOTE : I HAVE NOT MENTIONED THE NUM YEARS OF EXPERIENCE THAT A PERSON POSSESSES) , as they can be a great source of knowledge and learning.
(I personally will not look into the infrastructure facilities and other add-ons as i believe that once the cash inflow is steady , things automatically start looking rosy).

- If all the above satisfy you then its time to talk about money. Discuss the remuneration structure(yada yada , now some of you may tell me that satisfaction is what counts more than money - that's very true , but one also needs to keep himself and his family happy .. hence money is 'more'-equally important :) ). Also consider the fact that market is on the boom and growth rate of the IT industry is pretty exciting.

- Ball is in your court now and play it accordingly.

I have tried to enlist some of the very simple steps that one needs to consider and am sure that many will have more inputs to share. Let me know if this was of any help to you.

October 05, 2007

Should History be repeated?

When Dhoni and his lads arrrived in India after winning the T20 WorldCup :
- Mumbai traffic on the roads came to a halt for around 3-4 hours
- Lots of money and awards were given to the team
- the players got more endorsements
- a selected few in the team got 'more' money than others
- few members of the Indian Hockey team went on a fast in front of the Karnataka CM's office/house
- more ladies went ga-ga on Yuvi
- all the TV channels had this as the main news for 2-3 days (and some of them even continuing now :) )
- people said that this is like the 1983 WorldCup team returning back

well... the last observation was quite interesting..... and led me think about the actual aftermath of the 1983 WorldCup.
The mighty WestIndians visited India and 'destroyed' :'crushed' : 'mutilated' the Indian team :)

Now, Australians are visiting India ..... Does History repeat itself!! Interested in predicting ????

Check out the Summary of Results (From CricInfo.com):

alt

Sheep Theory

coming sooooooon .....

August 20, 2007

Aha! Java

Jon Bentley talks about the Aha! Insight in his book Programming Pearls.

I got 2 such 'Aha!s' today :

1) Java does support Short Circuit Operators(or short circuit evaluation)
public class myTest2 {

public static void main(String[] args) {
myTest2 sct = new myTest2();
if (sct.isTrue("left") || sct.isTrue("right")) {
//you may swap the 'left' and the 'right' and observe the behaviour
System.out.println("Expression is true.");
} else {
System.out.println("Expression is false.");
}
System.out.println("All done.");
}

public boolean isTrue(String msg) {
System.out.println("in isTrue (arg = '" + msg + "')");
if (msg.equals("right")) return true;
else return false;
}
}


2) Loop unrolling leads to instruction level parallelism. But am not sure whether this will have any effect on the way Java is architectured. I presume that stack based architectures(Java/JVM) do not have any effect on ILP.

Any thoughts or Ahas!!!!!

August 07, 2007

Getting Leh'ed

Plans are canceled and am not going to Leh this year :(

August 04, 2007

Toxicity

Seth speaks about Toxic bosses in one of his latest posts...

".....toxic bosses are far worse than toxic employees. Because bosses are often able to define reality, at least for those in their sphere of influence, they can cause whole sections of an organization to go off the rails....."

I would like to add couple of more observations here :

I find that toxic bosses do not only cause the derailing of the system but they infuse a sense of low-morale and inferiority complex in the team (this is among the non-toxic employees.....the dumb ones remain dumb); not to mention the complete lack of direction and doing-things-for-the-heck-of-it syndrome. Now let me change my gears slightly here and direct you to what Scott Adams mentions about smarter people having lesser intercourse than dumb people ; he rationales that

"....dimwitted get so much action is that they tend to be more attractive than smart people.Hot/dumb people are more likely to mate with other hot/dumb people and produce hot/dumb kids...."

Are Toxic bosses byproducts of this observation!!!

Along similar lines... Toxic bosses recruit more Toxic employees(who are essentially dumb) and the virality spread across the entire organization.The generality of the dumbness increases ( and i dont want to think about what happens to the future state of the organization).

Check out Seth's post on Toxic Employees too ;)

July 30, 2007

Reckoning BCB4

Barcamp Bangalore (version 4.0) concluded yesterday @ IIM Bangalore campus.There was a similarity between both Barcamp Bangalore 4 and Proto.in - both of them were organized very well, but both of them lacked CONTENT.

Barcamp Bangalore BCB4 Barcamp Bangalore BCB4 Barcamp Bangalore BCB4


Especially in BCB4, most of the collectives were just 'Global Gyaan'; and only a very few talks were worth the praise. Some of the speakers were doing a product demo, which I was least interested in.(Guess what, a speaker was demo'ing her .com site and mentioning that clikcing on a link takes one to a diff page...blah...blah...blah). I had to simply walkout from many sessions, especially on day-2. I had expectations from the Usability and Ajax collectives - but both of them disappointed me with again...the 'global gyaan'. I heard the 'web2.0' and 'ajax' atleast a zillion times :(

The ruby collective had some interesting talks , especially the one on deploying the rail apps - it was an in depth coverage of the various aspects of deploying and hosting(came to know that the Apace server has a higher memory footprint than Nginx and also does a thread level processing of requests).

The Biking collective (on Day 1)was simply amazing with some cool bikes in the display(and also to ride).Shree had got his freind's (KP's) bike Petalon which was a clear winner among all the 4 bikes present there. Rohan (& his freind) had got thier Treks which was also good.The session gave lots of gyaan on the cycles, the sitting and driving postures, the kits and some nice accesories. Shree had a GPS receiver and couple of rear lights.

I had more expecations from BCB4 and am sure that the in next Baracamp(BCB5), the collective co-ordinators will take extra "precaution" in terms of content.

Some pics taken during the event (More can be seen here):

Barcamp Bangalore BCB4 Barcamp Bangalore BCB4 Barcamp Bangalore BCB4

July 27, 2007

Barcamp Bangalore - 4

Venue: IIM Bangalore
Dates : 28/29 July, 2007

Barcamp Bangalore is finally here this weekend :) The coordinators have done a great job of maintaining an absolutely neat wiki (without any spam and arbit info).

Lots of collectives happening at the same time ...with loads of information and interesting sessions...




So if you are in Bangalore , then drop in(after registering, or i am not sure how much the mods will insist on registrations)...anywayz , it should be fun with loads of gyaan.

I will be live blogging during the event, if my lappie works :)

July 24, 2007

First Date with Flex

Installed the Flex Builder(Public Beta 3) from the CD provided by the Adobe folks during Proto.in. The CD contained the Demo versions of the Flex Builder, Flex Builder plugin for Eclipse and AIR(and some documentations).

Read the accompanying docs for an hour and was all set to play ;)

Quick features and comments :

- The IDE(Flex Builder) was very light on the memory(given the fact that my lappie is a 2gig machine ;))
- The framework is exteremely easy to learn and i was creating small apps within hours, and was impressed with the results.
- When compared to ADF/JSF, i think this framework is beautiful and extremely developer friendly - but do NOTE here that i had used the IDE for messing around; since , the IDE is a demo and costs 399USD for a license, developers who do not have the dough(folks like me)need to check the command line options - i hope to work with the command prompt today and check out the easeness of development.
- I have yet not started playing around with building DB cohesive applications using FLEX, but i do not think there should much problems.

I am looking forward to the full version of Flex by the end of this year and a FREE IDE :D. I need to learn RoR and compare it with Flex and AIR.

July 23, 2007

Proto.in - my itinerary

Event : Proto.in
Venue : IC & Sr Auditorium , IIT Madras
Dates : July 21/22, 2007

[This post mentions "what-i-did" during the event and some of my comments. It does not explain the events and the participants in its entirety. I hope to post more on the individual presenters(participating companies) and some interesting startups that i stumbled upon]

I had wondered on how this event would benefit startups and for audiences like me, who are just going to be meek spectators and see the companies present and the VCs talk. The event was supposed to span 2 days :
Day 1 -- the first day being the day of speakers (sessions) - Tracks on Business and Technology
Day 2 -- the main event - the companies (startups) presenting their product.


Day-1 (Saturday July 21, 2007)
Managed to reach the venue on time despite the traffic jam near Gandhi Mandapam.

Quickly registered and headed off to the conference room wherein the Business track was scheduled. There was one more conference room with the Technology Track. After the initial introduction and the India Poised video(ToI) ,the talk by Shankar Vembu (Vembu technologies Pvt Ltd) commenced. It was a beautiful talk, and the speaker stressed on 8 points that Startups should abide by when they want to bootstrap without a venture capital ; the first being - "Dont attend these kind of events if you are serious about your startup" - which i found perfectly right , both at the beginning of the event and also on the closing day :)

After this talk , i moved to the Tech track where Rajiv Mangla and Prayank Swaroop (Adobe) were about to speak on "RIA using Flex,AIR and Ajax". I was curious to attend this session and look at some demos and the framework. The talk wasn't much impressive (but am sure that the framework is kewl), some of the demos were nice. I am sure that the Flex consulting marketing is going to very lucrative in India. Sample AIR cds were given at the end - thanks for that - i was planning to get my hands dirty this week before BCB4 - am yet to explore the CD.

Then i again shifted to the Business Track wherein Rohit Agarwal(TechTribe) was supposed to talk on PR - again a _no-nullshit _ talk which i liked. After this, time for some networking [ time for tea:) ] and meeting some aspiring enthusiasts and interesting startups.

Later moved on to the talk by Alok Mittal(Canaan Partners) , and later moved to the Tech track where Sanjay Swami(myChek) had to elucidate on 'Opportunities in the Mobile Space". I being a noodlehead in the mobile industry, this was a nice talk to listen to. Sanjay spoke 0n some alluring spaces in the Mobile segment which had the potential to grow and some more gyaan.

The best of the talks was that by Atul Chitnis(VP - Geodesic and a FOSS evangelist). Atul spoke on how startups should take up free and Open-source as their platform for their businesses to succeed. His claims were supported by very valid arguments and it was an excellent talk. I did not feel the 30mins whisk away. I wish if this talk could last for a few 15mins more so that startups could have benefited more.

Then, Ganesh Rengaswamy(Greylock Partners and CoFounder of TravelGuru) spoke on the challenges and the opportunities in the Internet space. It was a very informal talk with very formal and good content. I liked the way Ganesh carried himself all throughout the talk - it was again a _no-bullshit_ talk :) . He did not use a powerpoint presentation and managed to engage the audience with good content.


Day-2 (Sunday July 22, 2007)
It was supposed to be the MAIN EVENT. The startups were supposed to present their company and the product (demo , if possible) in a short duration of 6 minutes. Almost all the presenters felt that 6 minutes was too short a time for presenting a product; but i totally second the organizers for choosing the 6-minte deadline, as i feel that i a product can easily be dissected in less than 6 minutes - with all its merits and demerits identified. One of the presenters commented that "it takes atleast 7 minutes for an orgasm and 6 minutes is too less".

A comprehensive analysis of the companies will be done in the forthcoming posts.

July 13, 2007

iPhone - The omnipresent

All the blogs contain a post on iPhone, and hence its incumbent on me to post a blog on the same too :D me is not gonna review it - not gonna fave it - not gonna criticize it ..
instead... Check out some destructive videos :




The last one is not an actual iPhone ;)

July 12, 2007

Videos

I watch videos [ read 'Youtube'(v) ] for approx 8-10+ hours a week. But today i wanted to check the features available in the video sharing sites. I am a great fan of Youtube and 99% of my video-watching-exercise happens over the same :D .

nwayz.. I was planning to observe the Top rated videos in Youtube and Google and understand the basic mood of the people and also the way they rate videos. But before I could proceed with my 'complex interpretations' of the videos and its interpretations, i was startled to see the list of the Top Videos in Google.

The Top videos in Google are ONLY porn(bold/undelined). Check out the screenshots of the Top videos from Google and Youtube.

July 01, 2007

TWTW - The Week That Was

Lots of things happened - met some interesting people - lots of gyaan - saw some amazing movies - Youtube'd a lot - read a lot.

One such interesting video was this.
Wall Street Journal technology columnist Walt Mossberg at the D5 interviews Eric Schmidt. [The best thing that has happened to me in the last 2 years is that i hardly see TV these days, instead i Youtube for the gyaan and the entertainment .. nwayz...] I had read an interview of Eric in HBR (Harvard Business Review) when he was with Novell. The interview was rather boring and it was all CEO/manager talk with no insights into what Novell had to offer to the ongoing technological advancements.But this interview (with Walt) was different. Eric has grown (Google factor???) !

In the interview, Walt brings up a very pertinent Q in the world of advertising -- The way the Ads are presented has not changed over the past couple of years. Google continues to display the ads in the same style that it used to do it say 3-4 years ago. There has been no significant innovation in Ad-Presentation.Though Eric does not give a satisfactory answer to this, but am sure Larry and Sergei (& hopefully other Google developers ) are seriously thinking about this. Am sure M$ would like to take this as an opportunity to launch their innovation in this field of targeted ads and try to step ahead(a leap also) in terms of its ads-presentation to the end users.

Eric clearly demarcates many times in the interview that Google is an enabler of the content but not a content generator.Eric also hints at some interesting apps that we can expect in the near future (Palm/Symbian/M$ - move aside ...Google is on its way in the mobile space).

The D5 series in Youtube simply rocks (also check out the Steve Jobs / Bill gates interview @ D5)

Early Rising

Some days are just too good - beyond any levels of description - no verbiage - no photos - A bright new day - soaring adrenaline - no evil - the feeling to win the world - fresh cologne - a beautiful drive along the valleys - my Aston Martin DB9 - the shimmering sun - the roaring river along the road , striking the rocks - the cardamom tea - The Indian Flag flying high - spotting the mynah - beautiful and innocent smiles of the village girls - the gompas - mild prayers - a Beautiful Mind - Life is Beautiful.

June 26, 2007

Sivaji - a Pure Entertainer

Yea...yea.... i finally saw the movie after a delay of 7 Days :) and i did not buy the tickets in black. And i saw the movie in Chennai ...yada...yada... In Chennai!!! @ Six Degrees (Sathyam Cine Complex). Again - no black! My cousin was surfing on the Net and he was trying his luck @ thecinema and he got 7 tickets for our entire family. I guess it was 2 days of special shows @ the theatre. It was my first movie @ Six Degrees, though i have seen numerous others in Sathyam.

The Movie
What shall i say !!! Its Shankar(with Thota Tharini)-Rajni-Vivek-Suman -- an amazing sundae(also 'Sunday' ) :)

Shankar - a director with his unique style ( he doesnt mind spending crores in movies produced by others and turning them into hits, though spends the least in his productions but still the movie is a hit )

Thota Tharini - the art director with grand style.

Rajini - no words can explain this 'phenomenon' (thalaivar style beatmudiyadu kanna - means, no one can beat Rajini's style )

Vivek - in the movie , he equals Rajni with amazing one liners and punch dialogues

Suman - whoa!!! He beats hands down even Rajni in certain scenes.

A full 3 hour masala entertainer.
Must see for every soul.
Pathetic songs(except for the 'ballelaika' song).
Amazing sets and backgrounds.
Rajni's Style and panache :)
Probably Asin could have replaced Shreya.



Also, it was Vijay's birthday and the theatre near my residence was screening 'Pokkiri' - wanted to see this, but preferred to sleep and eat Amma's food instead :)


June 19, 2007

Image Searches

Being an ardent fan of Google(its philosophy-technology-products) sometimes does stimulate you search for some other product that tries to beat it. I did not expect M$ to even come close to Google ; for its the sheer simplicity of the latter coupled with amazing performance and features that has pushed itself to greater heights and better customer experience.

I was playing around with the Image searches being offered by Google and M$(Live) and i was surprised by the results and the performance/features of the Image Search Engines.To my limited knowledge , neither of the Image Search Engines support "Content Based" Searches and its mostly "Context Based" based searches (sic! wherez the intelligence!!).

I found that M$ Image Search experience to be highly satisfying when compared to that of Google's. The images are displayed in a neater format (without any verbiage) and when the mouse hovers on the images, the properties associated with the image is displayed. There is a sleek slider on the right-hand top that controls the number images and their size that is displayed in the page region.



Features in other Image Search engines :

AltaVista : Has an LoV(Drop down) at the top of the page wherein you can specify whether one wants B/W images or Color - this is really interesting!

Pixsy : really slow!! But has some dimensional refinements - on Content Type , Categories,Sources. But instead of showing all along the left hand side, i would allow the user to save the options in his/her preferences and hence allowing more space for the images to be displayed.

For a complete list of other Image Search engines - visit this

June 16, 2007

Buried

No one's dead... no cremations.. no rites... no tears...no sad faces...

One of the best works in contemporary photography i have ever seen till date with a superb technique - kudos to Stephen Gill for his work titled Buried. Alec Soth talks about this work in detail and also explores some other techniques and works.

It feels amazing to see some 'nice pictures' at the end of the day :)

[
Movies seen over the past 36hrs :
1) Scent of a Woman (third time) - i simply cannot avoid this movie ;)
2) Papillon
3) Miller's Crossing
]

June 12, 2007

Hotel Rwanda

Thats not Hotel California... neither it is Hotel Leela Palace... nor Hotel Saravana Bhawan :)

"Hotel Rwanda" - a movie released in 2004 depicting the state of a person called Paul Rusesabagina(A Hotel Manager) and how his association with his family, his Hotel ( Hotel Milles Collines) , his neighbours and his country is affected due to the civil war.

I got a chance to see and appreciate this beautiful movie yesterday and was overwhelmed by direction and the screenplay. Don Cheadle, playing the role of Paul is at his best.I was disheartened to see that this movie hasn't won any Oscars :( As of now this movie tops my favourites and i would highly recommend this movie to any person who is interested in quality direction and an equally good performance by the actors and the actresses.

The scene in which Paul gets down from his car and find himself in the middle of the dead bodies and his reactions while wearing the tie in the subsequent scenes is truly amazing.

Other movies watched over the weekend include (sorted by 'interestingness'):
1) The Eagle has landed
2) The Bridge at Remagen
3) The Dirty Dozen
4) Pork Chop Hill

June 08, 2007

Google StreetView

Being a street-photographer is very challenging and interesting. Clicking the different moods of people and mundane things though may sound very boring but is one of the toughest things to click without disturbing the subjects.

Last week Google launched a new product called 'StreetView' - a mindblowing product/service. It basically gives you the street view of all the things happening around(though not a live service)- and wait its not just 2Dimentionsal ... it gives a 360 degree view of what all is present in the street.

Apparently the technology behind this is patented by Immersive Media. The pictures that one sees are not Live , but we can expect the cameras to be installed as various prominent positions in various street intersections and give us some really interesting views [no need of hidden cameras??? ;) ]

Youtubing some of the videos is simply amazing - i no longer want to use the word 'perspective' as the user can see 'EVERYTHING' in here ;)

May 24, 2007

Manipulating Potraits

I wanted to touchup some potraits that I had taken - removes the pores, wrinkes and cleanup the skin. Was searching for some plugins for GIMP 2.0 and stumbled on this software. This costs arn 50+ USDs but i guess its worth it for people who are not comfortable with Photoshop/PSP or GIMP. It has a very simple and easy to understand user interface. I was impressed with the results.

Lookout for the face reshaping feature in this tool - quite controversial but an amazing one to remove double chins, blunt noses and other 'unwanted' facial features .
[reminds me of my graduate year thesis on Face Recognition ;) ]

Rammstein all the way

Its been almost 12 hours of music... pure Rammstein... heavy death metal...dance metal rather... started at around 11am in the morning and it still continues .... Absolut Nirvana!

May 23, 2007

Camera Shake


Sometimes a few incidents in your life prompts you to something dramatic. One such recent incident has again prompted me to do something that has been lying dormant for the past 3 years.


I clicked this photo during the Bangalore Midnight Marathon. The photo is that of a greepeace activist wearing the facade of a penguin. This photo is really intersting; i had to take out my camera in a jiffy and click it. Later when i was going through my contact sheet, i realized that it has been badly shaken. Googling for "camera shake" was not of much use, as there are not many softwares that help in this regard. This paper by Rob Fergus on removing camera blur using blind image convolution is interesting, but has been patented.

Now what!!!

Well, when there are no resources, then its time for resources to be created.

Its been 3 years since my last published paper. The last one was “Significance of Steganography in Data Security” , IEEE International Conference on Information Technology :Coding & Computing, Las Vegas, April 2004. I target 1 year to work on my algorithm for removing camera shakes in images. I hope i will not digress into some other area of interest in the meantime.

If any of you is interested, then kindly let me know - we can try. [Prerequisites - Knowledge of Image processing, Signal Processing and the ability to withstand me :) ]

May 21, 2007

Bangalore Midnight Marathon ' 07

I was told that Bangalore is in the process of creating a history by hosting the first ever midnight marathon. To me, it sounded rather mundane; for the fact that i have never attended or participated in a marathon. I was under the impression that athletes do run in the stadium and running on roads is just another ball game, and that too in the night is all the more easier, as its cooler and one may avoid the sun.

Myself & Mahesh had decided to capture the event - from a "different perspective".I had searched Google for numerous marathon images to get an idea about the entire event and how its (coventionally) framed.I had no idea of what was supposed to happen and what i am going to do. Clicking in the night was supposed to be challenging, especially under low light conditions.


We reached the venue at around 6pm , parked the bike, got the media pass and quickly went to the ground wherein the crowd had assembled. Lots of people there, with difference t-shirts , multi-colored, multi-ethnic, 'multi-enthusiastic'...multi...multi...and yea - the 'universal and eternal' greenpeace activists and their penguins :) [ am sure they are gonna turn up for my marriage too and preach on bulbs and the associated environmental impacts] ... phew!

Then there was the IT run, the Full marathon and the half marathon. Things started at around 6:15pm and came to an end around 4am the next morning. It was great to lots of people turning up for the event and the energy seemed to permeate through the ether; smiling faces, tired faces, exhausted bodies, drenched shirts, but the spirit of participating and running was there everywhere.

Loved the evening, cherished the night and will not forget the morning :)

May 18, 2007

Style and uniqueness

Its amazing to see how the human mind frames the same subject differently and how it also gets interpreted subsequently.I had been on shoot last weekend with one of my mentors and a great pal - Mahesh Shantaram.Mahesh is a full time documentary photographer and his captures have always inspired me. His photos are not like the mundane lanscapes, the Great Indian Sadhu, the butterfly on a flower or the usual guy with rustic looks; they have a story in itself and can be interepreted in various ways.It was a pleasure shooting with Mahesh.

After the shoot when i was analyzing the captures made by him and by me , i was fascinated to see the following result :




(A) is by me and (B) is by Mahesh. Ths subject here is a simple door. I wanted to capture the window, the door lying down and also the lift door; i do no want to explain on what i intended to convey by that shot, but i was little happy on how it turned out to be (except for the fact that the composition needs to be worked on). Mahesh's capture of the same subject is even more powerful - though IMO it conveys a different aspect of the same frame, but the composition simply rocks, his style is different.

Mahesh shared a story when we were walking along MG Road, and this inspired me a lot :
Jack was really good at photography, his photographs were like Henry Cartier Bresson, and at certain occasions in fact bettered him.Jack's style and skills were exactly like Mr.Bresson, but he was finding it really difficult to get into the mainstream photography. He shared his grief with a good pal of his - Georgui Pinkhassov.Georgui told him that Jack was indeed good and there were no qualms about his techniques or skills, but since he style was like Mr.Bresson, people would rather prefer the latter than the former.If Jack had to succeed, then he had to mark his own distinctive style. (Mahesh points me to this smacker Georugui quote : "Cartier-Bresson resembles no one, but you resemble him!")

This story is very true in today's photography arena. I Flickr 1hour daily and find that 98% of the photos are alike in terms of its subject and its style. To be a successful photographer its very much required that a person carves his own niche initially, and then works on it to mark his own style and then the style becomes synonymous with his name.

May 16, 2007

M$ and Spirituality

M$ has been ridiculed and teased at almost all instants of time since its inception.Hardly people know that it is one of the most religious organizations on Earth.They are in fact both spiritual and religious :) I would like to substantiate it with an example.

People have questioned(read 'ridiculed') on M$'s philosophy or intent on having the shut-down button in the Start Menu. Well perfectly valid Q - why would anyone want to shut down by clicking on the start button.David Pogue also mentioned this in his TED Talk... but there is nothing to laugh out here.

According to Hinduism, the AATMAN(self) belongs to THEE(ascends from HIM) and after death agains joins the THEE.So the both the start and the end is associated with the THEE. Its very much normal then that the system START and the END should again be associated with START :)

May 13, 2007

The Best Talk

Steve jobs was the best orator i had ever heard , and then i stumbled on James Nachtwey's talk in TED.



I have been following James's work for quite sometime now , and have always been an admirer of his captures.

May 11, 2007

Hang overs?

I woke up to see myself sleeping again,
I could see the moon - vanishing in the brightness,
Tranquility of the morning sun,
Lackadaisical as I was,
but something was troubling me,
I could feel the uneasiness in the air .. .. ..

May 07, 2007

A Mirage?

And there she was .. right in front of me - the most beautiiful woman i had ever seen in my life.A pink shirt and neat blue denim with a chinese haircut and a beautiful smile on her face ..
configuration information had been registered..
trace path calculated ..

i could see her.. admire her.. was it she or was it something in my brain? hallucinations of the subordinate tissues? a prototype?

A 3D model of a recycled-redesigned-reconstructed XX Chromosome?

.....

I took my mexican burger with the spicy sauce and sipped in some Mango shake ..

May 06, 2007

Revolution or Evolution?

What we need is not another Milk or Green revolution; what we need is a complete social reorganization, an intellectual revolution, an idealogical revolution - a mutation or a metamorphosis?

A metamorphosis?? a long and tedious process by which your own surival is under threat by some extraneous factors? or your transformation is guided by environmental factors more than what you exactly want?

A mutation?? where a sudden cataclysimic event triggers a total restructuring of your degin patterns and causes you to either vanquish or change in some abnormal way??

It has to be a total elimination of the current thought processes and a completely new genomic structure in its place - a transcendental equation involving only 2 variables - first, being the humans and second, being the intellectual quotient.

May 04, 2007

Experiment with Gaussian Blur Overlays

it was quick - i liked the science behind it - i started loving GIMP more :)

Original Picture




After the overlay and the blend




This can be enhanced more - i was a bit quick on the mask and hence did not concentrate much on the edges, but this can be rectified and the quality can be improved.

Its raining movies

Guess the Bangalore summer has taken its toll and these days i mostly spend either sitting in my cubicle (with nice a/c) and surf the net or keep watching movies in my condo :)

Seen in the last 3-4 days:
Amelie (French)
Lolla Renntt (German)
Bachelor Party
The Fight Club
Good, Bad , Ugly
Big trouble
Serendipity
Office Space

In the Hangar (to see over this weekend):
7 Samurai (half seen)
Full Metal Jacket
All quite on the Western Front
Tigerland
Bourne Identity
Bourne Supremacy
...and lotsa more

May 01, 2007

a shot through the head

there he was.... right in front of me..
i knew this day would come...
i wasnt ready but.... i knew i can do it..
will I sacrifice myself to the altar ..

i cannot wait..
he needs to be eliminated..
vanquished .. trounced .. exterminated ..

i did it... i did it...
like a shot through the head.

i could hear the distant sirens...
the trumpets .. the drums.. the silence ...

Bangalore City Market

April 30, 2007

let him beat you.. let the crap out of you...
you bleed .. you have pain.. ur limbs are broken..
blood is oozing out from your body .. your left-arm is fractured..
but never scream.. not a word from your mouth....
you see him winning.. but he hasnt won yet...
you still have the last straw left in you ....
raise...rise.. give him what he deserves.. not what he desires..

and there he lies.. in his own graveyard..


You win!

April 29, 2007

The things you own end up owning you

Well, in addition to the title of the post being a dialogue from the movie 'The Fight Club' , is something thats been expatiated in various contexts - be it the Vedas, the Kuran, or God-damn any religion in this world.

Tyler Durden wasn't speaking shit when he said this.

Freeing up your mind helps to realize that when you dont own anything, then you own everything. You are free to do anything - but i am not suggesting anarchism here. I am against any form of anarchy , as i believe strongly in discipline. And this is where religion comes into picture.

I respect any religion that preaches freeing up the mind for the eternal salvation of the species .The damnation of the entire race happens when the doctrines are not adhered to.

Now the question that arises are :
Who are the people who set the rules - the doctrines?
How did a religion come into existence?
Can a religion answer all the sets of Qs that a human mind can think of?Do all the problems have a solution?
and lots and lots of Qs...

When the majority of the population (i am referring to 100% and not 2/3 majority) feels that the current set of rules are not letting them to evolve - then this causes a revolution - but this has to be co-ordinated with a structured streamlining of thought processes that lets in the ultimate 'EVOLUTION' - a new specie - a new life - a new thought process.

April 28, 2007

Selective coloring - Using GIMP (Quick Tutor)

Colors have continued to amaze me ; and when i stumbled upon doing some selective coloring on my own was simply spellbound by the end result(though it still looks a little amateurish).

nwayz..

This post quickly expatiates on selective coloring using GIMP .

Original image clicked using Nikon D50 @ 24mm, f/5, 1/100s.
Shutter prioity [as always;) ]



After Applying selective coloring :



1) Open the original image in GIMP
2) Image > Mode > Grayscale
3) Ctrl+a
4) ctrl+c
5) ctrl+z
6) ctrl +v (this creates a layer - a foreground grayscale layer)
7) Either Tools > Paint Tools > Eraser or Shift+E
8) start 'Erasing' the foreground - you will see the background color layer.

Hope that helps :)

April 26, 2007

A Visit to the City Market

Took a few hours off from work and visited City Market (Bangalore) . Wanted to visit the Tipu-sultan's fort and do some clicking around in the market. Was sad to see that the fort was closed and there was no one with whom i could check about the status/permissions for entry.

With a dejected soul, roamed about the market and clicked some shots (will upload it tommorrow). It was nice to be in the rush of the market, with all the stink (and sometimes nice smell/flavour) around. This market has almost everything - i saw one stretch of the platform filled with vendors selling shoes.. nice to see it .. almost all the brands ranging from Caterpillar to Bata were available.One guy was appling black liquid polish on a brown foam show :)

is that smartness?

I dont really understand why some people try to show off their 'smartness'(read 'crappiness') sometimes in email threads by quoting totally unrelated stuff and sarcastically abusing others. This is more prone in the cyber world - and it can go on..on and on...

If at all i have abused anyone, then i pass a direct scathing remark on the 'vicitm' , right on his face -- it makes life easier for both of us.

April 23, 2007

Death

I dont know why , but i get cockeyed when someone talks about death and the associated miseries. Its not that i have no respects for the departed soul, but the way they portray it is disillusioning.

The Disillusioned Soul : What is death ?
The Old Monk under the Mango Tree : Its a f***ed up thing.

Another beautiful trek

It was an amazing weekend with one more beautiful trek. Had been to Bandaje falls and BelrayanDurga over the weekend. Came back today morning at 01:00 hrs.

an amazing trek over different kinds of terrains and different climatic conditions... an experience that will be remembered till the next best trek :)

experienced scorching heat, lashing rains, chilled breeze/wind, beautiful mist , dark clouds, clear night-sky with twinkling stars , ice-cold water (and also no-water) , pencil snakes, mongooses, bisons, ruined fort walls, scary view from the top of the falls, people with guns(who were mistaken for naxalites), pet dogs etc etc....

April 11, 2007

Madikeri / Coorg

Starring : Me, Jatin, Nagendran, Meeliya
Start Time : 10:30pm,Friday , 6th April, 2007
End Time : 5:30am,Monday , 9th April, 2007
Approx expense per head : 900 INR

Itinerary
Bangalore - Kushal Nagar - Bylakuppe - Nisargadhama - Madikeri - Bhagamandala - TalaCauvery - Madikeri - Bangalore
@ Madikeri - Abby Falls, Royal Tomb, Fort, Raja's seat, Omkareshwara temple

Pics at PICASA

Expenses (Per head):
Bangalore to Kushal Nagar(Bus) = 131 INR
Kushal Nagar to Bylakuppe(Bus) = 5 INR
Bylakuppe to Nisargadhama (Auto) = 12 INR
Nisargadhama to Madikeri (Bus) = 17 INR
Lodge @ Madikeri = 150INR
Madikeri Sight seeing = 100 INR
Madikeri to Bhagamandala (Bus) = 22 INR
Bhagamandala to TalaCauvery (Bus) = 8 INR
TalaCauvery to Madikeri (Bus) =27 INR
Madikeri to Bangalore (Bus)= 246 INR
Food = 150 INR

April 06, 2007

Riyaz hails ... I cant :(

(10:50:31) Venkatraman S: helllo
(10:50:37) Riyaz: hi da
(10:50:42) Riyaz: in office?
(10:50:43) Venkatraman S: dei..busy?
(10:50:51) Venkatraman S: yea.. toaday v r working
(10:50:59) Riyaz: oh..
(10:51:00) Venkatraman S: need a help...m can u respond a lil faster?
(10:51:01) Riyaz: its off for us
(10:51:09) Riyaz: what is it da/

(10:51:18) Venkatraman S: i wanna transfer my TB local folders to another m/c ...
(10:51:26) Venkatraman S: just a copy+paste wud suffice?
(10:51:36) Riyaz: TB?
(10:51:42) Venkatraman S: thunderbird
(10:52:10) Riyaz: ok .. i guess uwant to copy folders from ur pc to another on the network
(10:52:14) Riyaz: yes copy paste would do
(10:52:19) Riyaz: u bougt a TB?
(10:52:32) Riyaz: but the other guy shd have given write permissions
(10:52:40) Riyaz: for that folder where u wnat to paste it
(10:53:19) Venkatraman S: y shud i buy a TB??
(10:53:29) Venkatraman S: wat happ to u da!
(10:53:46) Riyaz: but u said "my TB"
(10:53:56) Riyaz: i wanna transfer my TB local folders to another m/c ...
(10:54:24) Venkatraman S: yea
(10:54:35) Venkatraman S: thunderbird
(10:54:40) Riyaz: i thought u bought a new TB and u want to share those photos with some other guy
(10:54:53) Venkatraman S: ahaa... free aa vidu
(10:54:57) Venkatraman S: go and sapdu
(10:55:16) Riyaz: dei .. so that TB is not royal enfield thunderbird?
(10:55:24) Venkatraman S: f
(10:55:29) Venkatraman S: Mozilla thunderbird
(10:55:34) Riyaz: lol :)
(10:55:38) Venkatraman S: someone kill me plz
(10:55:47) Venkatraman S: lemme save this conversation
(10:56:11) Riyaz: haha.. sure dude.. but am not to blame.. blame those idiots who name two products the saem
(10:56:23) Venkatraman S: enuf...enuf....
(10:56:26) Venkatraman S: i cant...

March 19, 2007

North Karnataka Tour

Just back from my North Karnataka tour.

Pics @ http://picasaweb.google.com/venkat83/NorthKarnataka

Itinerary (Summary):
Bijapur - Almatti - KoodluSangama - Aihole - Pattadakal - Badami - Gadag - Lakkudi

Detailed Itinerary :
Day -1 (Saturday - 17th March, 2007 )
Bijapur
  • Gagan Mahal
  • Jod Gumbaz
  • Taj bawari
  • Uppali Burz
  • Mailk-e-Maiden
  • Ibrahim Roza
  • Gol Gumbaz
  • Bara Kamaan
Almatti Dam

KoodluSangama

Day -2 (Sunday - 18th March, 2007 )
Aihole
  • Durga Temple
  • Lad Khan temple
  • Hucchimalli Gudi
  • Konthi Temple Complex (Kwanthi Gudi)
  • Two-story Buddhist temple
  • Meguti Jain Temple
Pattadakal
  • Kadasiddeshvara Temple
  • Jambulinga Temple
  • Galaganatha Temple
  • Mallikarjuna Temple
  • Sangameshvara Temple
  • Virupaksha Temple
Badami
Caves 1 to 4

Gadag
  • Trikuteshwara temple
  • Saraswati temple
  • Someshwara temple
Lakkudi
Manikeshwara temple and the Muskinabhavi

Expenses
Bangalore to Bijapur = 301
17th March
Guide @ Ibrahim Roza = 50
Bijapur to Almatti (Bus) = 35
Almatti to KoodluSangama (Bus) = 17
KoodluSangama to Amingadh (auto) = 10
Amingadh to Aihole (Bus) = 8
Entrance fee @ Ibrahim Roza, Gol Gumbaz = 10
Misc - Lunch, Dinner + water Bottles = 100
Double Room Charges @ Aihole = 200

18th March

Entry fee @ Aihole, Pattadakal , Badami= 20
Aihole to Pattadakal(Auto) = 16
Guide @ Pattadakal = 50
Misc - Lunch, Dinner + water Bottles + Grapes = 100
Pattadakal to Badami ( Van ) = 20
Badami to Gadag (Bus) = 41
Gadag to Lakkundi (Bus) = 4
Gadag to Banglaore = 220

Total Expenses = 1200 INR

March 07, 2007

This is World66 had to say about me :)

Stumbled across this travel site : http://www.world66.com/ .. really liked it :) nice info abt many places and kewl add-ons

This is my Travel Profile .. lol ;)


Your

travel type: Rough guy

When the going gets tough, the rough guy gets going! Sleep outside, hike up mountains, eat raw lizards for breakfast, that's his perfect holiday. Ten days of hiking through unspoilt jungle between Colombia and Panama, that kind of thing.

top destinations:

Ciudad Perdida
Ngorongoro
Amsterdam

stay away from:

Venice
Paris
Tokyo
get your own travel profile


Places I would like to visit :



create your own visited country map


Central America and the Caribbean
-----------------------------------------------
Barbados
Bahamas
Bermuda
Cayman Islands
Honduras
Jamaica
Panama
Turks and Caicos Islands
Trinidad and Tobago
Virgin Islands

South America
-----------------------------------------------
Argentina
Bolivia
Brazil
Paraguay
Peru

Africa
-----------------------------------------------
Botswana
Burundi
Cameroon
Egypt
Eritrea
Ethiopia
Ivory Coast
Kenya
Madagascar
Mauritius
Morocco
Mozambique
Rwanda
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Somalia
Swaziland
Tanzania
Uganda
Zimbabwe

Europe
-----------------------------------------------
Austria
Belarus
Belgium
Croatia
Finland
Germany
Hungary
Italy
Macedonia
Monaco
Russia
Slovakia
Slovenia
Sweden
Switzerland
Vatican City


the Middle East
-----------------------------------------------
Cyprus
Iraq
Israel
Jordan
Lebanon
Oman
Qatar
Syria
Turkey
Yemen

Asia
-----------------------------------------------
Bhutan
Brunei
India
Japan
Maldives
Mongolia
Nepal
Sri Lanka
Taiwan
Thailand


Australia and Pacific
-----------------------------------------------
Australia
Fiji
French Polynesia
Guam
Kiribati
Marshall Islands
Tonga
Vanuatu

March 02, 2007

Am Back!

I am back from the trek/tour and am doing good ;)

What was intended to be a 7 day trek was cut short to a 2 day trek and 5 day sight-seeing/ travelling.

We could only manage to trek for around 8km(till Lamaydura) after which we had to abandon the trek owing to poor visibility and dropping temperatures. Though we were trekking at sub-zero temperatures , the further decline in temps led us to call it off and bow in front of Mother Nature.But it was beautiful one - the region had experienced the first snowfall after 1999.

After calling off the trek we went ahead to Darjeeling and Gangtok.

I havent yet blogged it (hope to do it by Monday).

Select few pics from my recent trek+tour :
http://picasaweb. google.com/venkat83/Sandakphu
http://picasaweb. google.com/venkat83/Sikkim
http://picasaweb. google.com/venkat83/Darjeeling

February 16, 2007

Destination : Sandakphu

Me going on a 7 day trek in Eastern Himalayas - to a place called Sandakhpu. This borders Nepal and offers best views of the four of the world's five highest peaks - Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makalu and Lhotse in a continuous snow-clad arc; and also Kancendzunga.

We will be trekking at an altitude of 10,000-12,000feet.

We will be following the route as mentioned in this map : http://www.geocities.com/bhuniahoo/sandak_map.ppt (Check out the views in this ppt).

We will try to stick to this route , but if the weather changes, then we might have to reconsider this. More details w.r.t Sandakphu can be found here and here.

Hope the weather god co-operates and we have a clear sky and an amazing trek.

Will be leaving on 16 Feb,2007 and back to Bangalore on 28 Feb , 2007.

February 14, 2007

Andhra Tour : Temples and Caves

Starring : Me & Krishna
Per head expense = 1500 INR
Start Time : 6:30am, 10th February, 2007
End Time : 6:30am, 13th February, 2007

Pics :
Lepakshi
Belum Caves
Mahanandi
Alampura

It was a long w-end. Monday was a bandh in Blore - due to the cauvery dispute. Cannot afford to spend 3 days in Blore and do nothing.

TN was not probable due to the dispute ; also did not want to try Kerala - hence the only viable option was AP.

Entered AP on Sat morning and visited some places over the next 3 days(sat+sun+ mon)
Saturday - Lepakshi
Sunday - Belum Caves , Mahanandi
Monday - Mantralayam, Alampura


Costs
Day - 1
----------
Majestic to Hindupur =104
Hindupur to Lepakshi =12
Lepakshi to Hindupur =10
Hindupur to Anantpur =96
Anantpur to Kurnool =146
Misc =457

Day - 2
----------
Kurnool to Banganapalle =76
Banganapalle to Belum Caves =28
Belum Caves to Nandyal =68
Nandyal to Mahanandi =16
Mahanandi to Nandyal(auto) = 16
Nandyal to Krunool =68
Misc =339

Day - 3
----------
Kurnool to Yemmiganur =60
Yemmiganur to Mantralayam =22
Mantralayam to Kurnool =82
Kurnool to Alampura Chowraste =12
Alampura Chowraste to Alampura =12
Alampura to Kurnool =24
Kurnool to Bangalore =720
Misc = 577

TOTAL =2945

February 09, 2007

Somnathpura and Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary

Starring : Me & Arvind
Total Cost : 1400 INR
Start Time : 4:30am, 4th February, 2007
End Time : 6:30pm, 4th February, 2007
Somnathpura pics Photos here
Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary pics Photos here

Bitten by the "no-more-weekends-in-Bangalore" syndrome myself and Arvind decided to ride to Somnathpura and Ranganthittu on SUnday.

Somnathpura is situated on the left bank of the Cauvery river. The keshava temple was built in 1268AD by Somnatha Dandanyaka, an illustrious General of the Hoysala king Narasimha III(1254-1291 AD) and named after him.

This temple is a perfect example of the Hoysala style of architecture. It has three sanctums on the West,South and North to Keshava, Venugopala and Janardhana, all connected. It is an ornately carved temple of magnificient craftmanship depicting Vishnu, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha, Rathi-manmatha and mahishasura. The ceilings and door jambs leading to the sanctum sactorium are exquisitely carved.

There are inscriptions engraved on a slab standing at the entrance,inside temple , dated from 1269 to 1550 AD that detail the consrtuction of the temple and grants made to it.

The temple stands on a raised platform in the center of a spacious enclosure having 64 cells. This three celled (trikutachala) structure consists of three garbhagrihas, three antaralas and a navarang. It has a mahadwara standing on the east.

The basement of the outerwall is highly ornamented with friezes of elephants, scrolls, epic and puranic scenes, small images with intervening turrets and columns with fugures in between , number of gods and goddesses and their attendants adron the walls. The lathe turned pillars and delicately carved 16 different types of ceilings are the characteristic feature of the hoysala art. The names of a number of sculptors are carved on the pedestal of the images. It is observed that Mallithamma has not only carved the maximum number of images but also carved the northern sikhara that of Janardhana cell.

Inscriptions engraved on a huge slab standing in the mahadwara and on the beams of the navaranga ranging in date from 1269-1550 AD give the details of the construction of the temple and several grants for the upkeep of the temple.

Ranganthittu was ok...not many birds though. I could spot only around 3-4 varieties.

Costs:
Petrol = 850 INR
Breakfast = 110 INR
Lunch = 130 INR
Misc = 40 INR

At Ranganthittu
Entry = 20 INR
Bike parking = 10 INR
Camera Charges = 20 INR
Boating = 20 INR

January 22, 2007

Sringeri Kalasa Hornadu

Starring : Me (alone)
Total Cost : 800 INR
Start Time : 8pm, 20th January, 2007
End Time : 7am, 22th January, 2007
Photos here

Motivation:
Saturday(20th Jan,2006) was pathetic as it could get. Spending a day in Bangalore(especially on weekend here has never been so easy for me).One of my pals had come down to my place and we wanted to have his lunch at McD(McDonalds@Forum) - appreciating his sense and taste i took him there and 'feasted' on a burger and coke - came back home - showed him my travel pics and bid adieu.Time:7pm.

Saturday was already over and i decided that i cannot afford to waste my Sunday like this. Decided at 7:45pm that I will visit Sringeri. Caught a bus to Majestic from Koramangala and reached the KSRTC bus stand by 8:35pm.
Luckily caught a bus to Sringeri - and got an end row seat ;)

Implementation :

And thus began my journey. Met a man(in his 30s) in the bus who introduced himselves as a 'vyapari' (businessman) and he told me that i can cover Kalasa and Hornadu along with Sringeri in a day - sounded good to me.


The bus journey from 4am was horrible. The roads were amazingly bad and i could feel each every spine in me; i was shivering badly, as i had just one wind-cheater with me.


Reached Sringeri at 6:45am (Sunday morning).I could see the beautiful Vidyashankara Temple from the entrance. Took a couple of shots from my cam and headed towards the Tunga river flowing adjacent to the temple.I was already told by my parents and my roomie to check-out the fishes in the Tunga river.I do not know the breed of the fishes - but these were one of the most healthiest fishes that i have ever seen - spanning aroung 1-2 foot long, black in color, they were silently feeding on the 'pori'(rice) and the marsh.I was still shivering , but decided that i will take a dip in the holy-tunga ('Tunga paana - Ganga snaana').To much surprise, the water wasnt so cold(or i didnt feel it, for i was all lost in the surrounding tranquility!!!) and i kept myself immersed for around 20-30mins;came out and took some snaps of the devotees and fishes.


The Vidyashankara temple amused me a lot - the architecture resembles that of Belur/Halebeedu. The raised pedestal surrounding the temple is a characteristic of the Hoysala architecture.spent some time pondering the resemblances in the architecture and appreciating the same.Then spent some time in the Sharada Devi temple (which is in the same campus). Goddess Sharada was decorated with flowers and her glowing face was like a magic potion to all the devotees.


I have been wanting to visit this temple for the past 3-4 years ; wishes fulfilled and time being 8:30am i decided to start for Kalasa from here ( also, i was informed by the temple authorities that the anna sadana will be at 1:30pm in the temple).


The serpentine roads through coffess estates was amazing.I could see the coffee harvest season in progress , with loads and loads of coffee seeds lying by the road to be picked up.


Kalasa

Reached Kalasa at 10:45am.

This small viallage+town is the abode of Sri Kalasehwara Swamy.The temple stands on a small hillock.

It is believed that during the wedding of Lord Shiva with parvati in Benaras(Varanasi) caused a heavy tilt in the earth's rotation and the earth started to move in bacause of the presence of all the gods and goddesses.Lord Shiva requested Sage Agasthya to travel downw South , so that the weight could be compensated. But Sage Agasthya had his own inihibitions and wanted to attend the marriage.Shiva promised him that he(Agasthya) will be able to see and enjoy the marriage from South. It is said that , it was here in Kalasa that Agasthya came and Shiva gave him the 'darshan'.Sage Agasthya could see the marriage from here. Hence, the marriage between Shiva and Parvati is celebrated with much grandiloquence every year here.The linga is a swambhoo linga - that is , it has
emerged from the ground.

A small shop-owner inside the temple narrated this entire story and also told me that the 'punya'(blessings) that one gets by coming here is slightly more than the one that one gets by going to Benaras.He also informed me that the Mangala-Aarthi will be at 12:30pm and i can watch that , have food(anna sadana) at 1:00pm and then start for Hornadu.

This sounded good to me; waited for the aarthi to get over and had a mediocre lunch at the temple. It consisted of Rice+Sambhar(canarian) and Buttermilk.


Bought Coffee(80INR per KG),Tea(80INR per kg) and raisins(30INR per 300gms).The coffee is of the type 'Arabica-Robusta', with 80% coffee and 20% chicory) - this is a brand which is local to this part of the region.


Started from Kalasa at 1:50pm and reached Hornadu by 2:20pm.


Hornadu

This is the holy abode of Goddess Annapoorneshwari(the Food God, according to Hindu Mythology).The anna-sadana here is considered to be really good and people flock here to have a divya-darshana of the goddess and cherish the anna-sadana(which is like a prasadam).
I had lunch here too ;) and rested in the temple verandah for 2 hours.

Had a darshan of the Goddess(yea-yea...after lunch!!!) - Mata(Mother) Annapoorneshwari was amazingly beautiful and words cannot describe the grace and the aura that was filled in the Garbha-gruha of the temple. I couldn't move my eyes away from her - but alas, the crowd from the back were yearning to catch a glimpse of her and i had to move on :( but still the image of Goddess is still in my eyes.

Around 4pm, i went on a small stroll and trekked a little in the adjonining forests.Also, happened to see a Jain Basadi here.


Came back to the temple by 6pm and rested.Dinner was again served in the temple.Left Hornadu by 9:30pm and reached Bangalore(Majestic at 6am); and in my room by 7am.


Costs:

Bangalore(Majestic) to Sringeri =198 INR
Sringeri to Kalasa = 37INR
Kalasa to Hornadu = 6 INR
Hornadu to Bangalore(Majestic) = 280INR (it costs 180INR in KSRTC bus though)

Misc:
Night Dinner (Fri) = 40INR
Morning Tea(Sat) +Breakfast = 34INR
Sringeri PRasadam = 20INR
Kalsa Pics + Prasadam = 20INR
@Kalasa, Cofee Powder(1kg)+Tea Leaves(.5kg)+Raisins = 80+40+30 = 150INR
@Hornadu , Coffee+Tea = 8INR
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