Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bye Bye Blogger

After rambling here for 3 years, I've decided to move my blog to a different home. My reasons: Got bored of the same interface and themes even though I've not posted much. Actually, I was looking forward to Google's blogger beta but as of now, it does not allow you to migrate your blog entirely and I don't want to have multiple blogs. Also, much of what Blogger lacks, what blogger-beta promises/provides, Wordpress already has. So, I've moved to Wordpress. My new blog can be found here . I donno if it is within the blogging ethics to move a blog entirely from one host to another but I want to keep all my posts in one place so I've imported this blog to the new site.

A big thank you to Blogger for the good service provided over the last 3 years.

Monday, September 11, 2006


I've rejoined the Free Internet Chess Server . I plan to play a few games there everyday. My handle is "MrPunch" and my current (provisional) rating is 1902.

Emacs artist mode...

I was blown away when I saw emacs's artist-mode (M-x artist-mode activates it). Artist mode switches emacs's text buffer to a nice canvas where you can draw ascii art using the mouse!!! Coooooool!

Here is a sample scribble:

** ** *
* ** * ** *
**** * ** ***** *****
***** * * ** ** * *
* ** * * ** * * *
*** * **** ******** * ********

Note: I was trying to scribble 'kicha'. Guess the CSS has ruined my fine drawing :-(

This weekend...

Indrani came to Salem this week and stayed with us for the weekend. We drove to Yercaud hills. It was a one and half hour drive from my place. The weather was very pleasant, misty and a little bit of rain. We saw the various vantage points. At the highest point, 1500m above MSL, is the Servarayan cave temple. The temple houses Lord Servarayan and goddess Cauvery and it is said that the cave runs so deep that it touches the river Cauvery. It is believed that the god and the goddess are the protectors of the surrounding hills and hence they take the name from him which the Britishers have anglicized to "Shervaroy hills". We walked on the nearby meadow and it was an interesting experience to see the mist covering and clearing every now and then. From the other side of the meadow, one could clearly see portions of the hill that were shaved off by the bauxite miners. Not a pretty sight. We could'nt go to the waterfall because of bad roads and we were too lazy to walk 10Kms. We missed out on a few places but given the short stay, we managed to cover a lot. On our way back, we even climbed a fire monitoring tower installed near a hair-pin bend where we got a nice view of Salem!

I'm quite bad at photography. Indrani sure had a tough time teaching me framing etc. However, I still ended up taking pictures by simply "pointing and clicking". Here are some pictures.

We got a lot of things sorted out regarding acharya/peixes and the direction that the urdu editor will take. Apart from that, we also chatted for a long time. Little did I know that Indrani can sing well. She sang a few Bangla songs and I also made her sing a few verses from Thiruvasagam. Needless to say, it was fun listening her sing Thiruvasagam.

Overall, it was a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Turbo Power!?

Borland has finally made the Turbo product line available for download. Rushed over to the download site and started to download Turbo C++. The package came in two parts - a prequisite that weighed 230MB and TC++ itself which weighed 390M!. Wonder whatz inside. Turns out .Net 1.1 is required. Hmm. As the download was progressing, began to read the FAQ. When I read that the commandline compiler was not included in the package I lost interest and cancelled the download. I was just curious to try out the compiler. Am not a big fan of IDEs. Emacs is fine for most of my needs.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Indrani has quit ETV after working there for 7 years!. She'll be moving to Mysore and join the Central Institute of Indian Languages as a research fellow. IG, good luck!.

Monkey has quit HCL and joined Wipro. He has moved back to Hyderabad to take care of his many families ;). Right Durga?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Emacs chess!

When I first encountered emacs, little did I know that I'll be able to play chess with it. This rocks!.

Some of the features:

  • A full featured client for ICS

  • Interfaces with engines like Crafty and GNUChess

  • Run engine-engine matchups

  • Run puzzles using the PGN and EPD parsers

  • Announces moves using festival


Thursday, August 17, 2006

lispm font

Found this via lemonodor . Very nice font. Switched!

Friday, August 11, 2006


Decided today that Factor will the next programming language that I'll learn.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Today, went to drop my sister at her place. En route, we stopped at a Food World and while my sister was busy shopping, I was sitting inside the car. An interesting incident happened: a little kid dressed like Hanuman, including a long tail that went all the way up to his neck and missing only a mace, was going rounds in the parking area. He kept b(e|u)gging people for money. He came to me and I refused to give him money. Then he said something in a language that I could not understand. I told him that I did not understand. Then he gestured that he was very hungry. So, I gave him a 2 rupee coin (hunger sentiment generally works out pretty well!). When he accepted the money and turned back, I touched his tail (curiosity). It felt like a rubber tube or something like that. I'm sure it must have been heavy for that little kid. Anyways, the kid did not sense it (it was not a real tail) and he left for the next car.

Sometime passed and another car came. With arms streched out, our Hanuman rushed towards the car. Inside, a little kid about the same age as our Hanuman saw our "lord" and started shouting: Hanuman!, hanuman! Our hanuman looked at the kid and asked for money. The kid in turn joined his hands and bowed before our Hanuman. Our hanuman immediately withdrew his stretched arms and walked away. The kid in the car though kept screaming: Hanuman, hanuman!. I'm sure our Hanuman must have felt embarassed. I felt sorry for him. And this happened on the day after Kamaraj's birthday, the man who introduced free education and mid-day meal for the kids in Tamilnadu. Pity...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

CMake -> Jam

Today, I switched the build systems of peixes/acharya and the IMLI libraries to Jam. Previously, I used autotools for the IMLI libs and CMake for peixes. CMake is pretty nice and it has recently been adopted by the KDE and Scribus projects. From a CMake project, project files can be created for KDevelop and Visual Studio. However, I use neither of them. I use Emacs + CEDET + ECB for my coding tasks at home. I use the Mingw toolset on Windoze though I want to be able to build peixes using other toolsets like OpenWatcom and DigitalMars C++ .

Using Jam makes this quite easy. The version I'm using is Freetype's Jam which is a slightly enhanced version of the Perforce one. Then there is Boost's version of Jam which is based on Freetype's Jam but heavily modified to suit large projects.

Some of the advantages of Jam is listed here.

The other nice feature of Jam is the default collection of rules and actions are compiled into the executable itself which makes it very compact without the need for having a dozen files in /usr/share .

I've also switched the IMLI lib to Jam from autotools. Although the autotools does a lot more than just build, it is too heavy for such a simple library. The code is plain ANSI C and does not use any platform specific extensions so there is no need for "configuring" the build. In fact, the size of the configure script is twice as that of all the library code put together.

Next step is to try building with all the available toolsets.

Monkey menace...

There is a huge monkey that has entered our colony raiding all the houses. It has a particular liking for waste baskets. Yesterday, it attempted "restoring" the items of the recycling bin in the backyard of my house creating a big mess. The day before, it raided a neighbour's house and smashed 6-7 eggs in the process. A few minutes ago, it tried to enter my room through the balcony. Fortunately, I managed to close the door in time. The last thing my computer needs is another monkey sitting in front of it ;) . Because of this stupid monkey, I had to close all doors and windows thereby blocking the nice breeze that was blowing across the house. Damn...

For the last week or so I've been experiencing severe pain in the wrist of my right hand. Yesterday, saw the doc and he said a ganglion cyst has developed in the wrist. It seems in most cases, these cysts disappear without any special treatment but in case they hang on, they have to be removed (sucked out using a needle). The next check up will be on Friday. Till then I'm on pain killers.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Swami Nithyananda's Mahamantra

My sister recently underwent a 10 day training program at Dhyanapeetam, Swami Parahamsa Nithyananda's ashram, located at Bidadi near Bangalore. She got me a few books and a CD which introduces a meditation technique called Mahamantra . It is a very simple technique and all you have to do is hum for 20 minutes and do nothing for the next 10 minutes. The humming should be as loud and deep as possible. Also the time period between successive hums should be as minimal as possible. The only prerequisite is that the stomach should be empty when doing this meditation. In the introduction, the swamiji says that this technique was adapted from Tibetan Buddhists and it is practised best early in the morning. Faithfully, I started off at 6am and finished around 6:40am. Although I could not sense any big change in me, I was definitely feeling light (ie, less heavy). I think part of that feeling comes from the fact that today is a Saturday and I do not have much to do ;) .

Hope to continue the meditation daily and post my experiences here.

The Swamiji's official website is here.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Hyderabad trip...

I was in Hyderabad the whole of last week to finish some things at RFC. Also, Indrani, BGa and Saroo have all quit and thought it would be nice to see them once before they move on to their respective destinations. It turned out to be a very relaxing trip. The daily routine of eating, chatting, watching tv, sleeping and no work would have made even Garfield jealous.

On some days, Sayandeb joined us and told us jokes from his work. The first time I met him, two years ago, he appeared to be a quiet person who prefers to work alone (atleast that is what Nithin told me). But this time, I was completely surprised by the volume... especially at 2am in the morning! . Too many Telugu films perhaps... ;)

dkg garu is another person who amazes me with his uptime. The man would do two shifts back to back, come home and straightaway pick a book or watch a film and continue without any fuss! . Wonder where these people get their stamina from...

Sayan took us to the tomb of a French General, Mon. Raymond (a.k.a Moosa Rahim). Very nice place (very few humans around), at a walkable distance from Indrani's place. Located on top of a mound, it offered a nice view of some parts of the city. When we went there, a strong breeze was blowing across. Fanstastic feeling to stand tall on a rock and face the breeze.

In RFC, met ABC and discussed a few chess related things like opening repertoire etc. He got me the scores of my games against Sasikiran and D.V Prasad from a rating tournament held in Salem long back. I lost a lot of scoresheets of my games when I shifted my residence in 2002. Have to archive the ones that I have and put them online.

In the evenings, did a lot of shopping. Came close to buying a HP Pavilion dv5200TX notebook. But the ICICI deal was temporarily not available for this month. Hopefully, should be available next month. 66,000 spread over nine months looks like a good deal.

All in all, it was a nice trip.Thoroughly enjoyed it. A big thank you to Indrani and dkg garu for putting up with a bugger that is me.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Looooooooong day...

Got up at 4am thanks to a constant burning sensation in my stomach and food pipe. After half-hour or so of self-healing (Reiki) was feeling much better and decided to cleanup pending issues.

First up was a new cairo build for win32 based on 1.1.6 snapshot. Cairo is used in Acharya (and peixes) for printing and PDF export. However, the prebuilt binaries that come with gtk-win32 installers do not have PDF enabled. Started the build with ./configure --enable-pdf=yes under MSYS only to find that the PDF backend uses freetype2 for handling fonts and fontconfig to locate them. Fortunately, the gtk-win32 installer came bundled with these libs. After setting the appropriate include and library paths, GCC (Mingw) started to grind the sources. There were minor hiccups building the thing but finally managed to get a working dll and import lib built. After that, enabled the postscript and PDF export code in peixes, rebuilt and things were working!

Next, was forcefully dragged to Nandu's first birthday celebrations ( <tamil>aandu niraivu</tamil>) where I met some old friends, aunties and uncles. Had to answer a lot of questions including tough ones like "what the hell are you doing in Salem?". Had a good lunch though.

Next was playing cricket with the colony kids. As usual, lost the first match (first match is always for lord ganesha ;-) ) . Pulled out half way through the second match as the stomach pain started to surface again. Reiki to the rescue. But should consult the doc to find out what the hell is wrong...

Late in the evening, was back to cleanups - this time, repository migration. I really like darcs. It is simple to use, decentralized, plays well with other tools (ssh, curl, email patches etc) and most importantly (the coolness factor), written in Haskell ;). Speed seems to an issue for some people - not for me as my repositories are very small, so most operations are fast.

Back in ETV, I used Subversion to hold the code for Peixes and the IMLI. After coming home, I simply restored the repository from the dump file and continued working. This turned out to be bad thing to do because of the centralized design of subversion. Since I triple boot to Linux, Windoze and PC-BSD, repository management has become a pain. Hence the switch to darcs. I used tailor to migrate the subversion repository to a darcs one. The migration was smooth and I hope nothing was left out! - will know in the coming days...

Then came my weekly doze of code reading. Looked at different implementations of RunArray including Squeak, GNU Smalltalk, SWT and Haiku-OS. It was interesting to compare the implementations. More about that in a later post.

So, at the end of a long day, waiting for a call from a friend without which my Sunday is not complete, after which zzzzzzZZZZZZZ.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Pics from Chennai trip

Indrani sent me the pictures that she took during the Chennai trip in April. You can find them here

Saturday, February 25, 2006

My major...

As computed by this test:

You scored as Philosophy. You should be a Philosophy major! Like the Philosopher, you are contemplative and you enjoy thinking about the purpose for humanity's existence.





























What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)
created with

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

N.Wirth's books...

Finally, found time from my screwed-up schedule to read Nicklaus Wirth's Project Oberon - The Design of an operating system and compiler . Very clear presentation (without any buildups) of the design and implementation of the Oberon system (yes, it presents the actual source code for the OS, Compiler, Windowing system and some applications! ).

I first saw the Oberon (V2) system in action around 1995 running on top of MS-DOS. It came with a full suite of tools including the OS (with system wide GC!), compiler, document editor, image editing tools etc. and it came in a 1MB zip file! . I was so thrilled that I tinkered with it for a few months (never liked the KEYWORDS in CAPS syntax though). However the fact that it is a closed system drove me away from the language. The language report impressed me a lot as it was very consise. Only Scheme's R^RS reports were comparable.

Coming back to the book, The chapter on the text system is my favourite. It was a pleasure to read as it nicely documents a peice table implementation. Thinking of using that as a base for the planned peixes rewrite.

If you are a beginner/intermediate programmer and trying to make it to the next level, the following books are highly recommended:

  • Data structures + Algorithms = Programs

  • Algorithms and Data Structures

  • Programming in Oberon

  • Project Oberon - The Design of an operating system and compiler

The last three are available for download here .

Friday, January 27, 2006

During the ETVians chess meet, met A.Balachandrudu (aka ABC) who used to be a regular tournament player. Played a few games with him today. Spreading the board and moving the pieces around after a long time - nice feeling it was.

We played three games. The first game I lost after having blundered a pawn from a promising position from Queen's Gambit Accepted.

The second and third were interesting Sicilians which I managed to win after some rabid attacking play from both parties.

We have decided to play whenever we could find time and am looking forward to the next meeting.