Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The end (for now)

First year's over.
One more day at IUB before I go back home for 3 months.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Brown out

So in the almost 9 months I have been in Germany, today was the first day we had an unannounced internet and power outage. Total 3 minutes of power outage, and around 10-12 minutes of no internet. There have been no power outages at all, and the internet has been turned off for about 2-3 hours a couple of times for maintainance, which was hardly noticeable. I like it how they are able to maintain things so well.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Holy mother of god

Check this page out -

Who can guess what that is?

It is a program written in a language called "Brainfuck."
Here's the same code with some comments added. You can try to understand it. It's actually pretty simple and elegant. Good luck.

If you're wondering, that program does some sort of text processing to convert HTML files to PHP files using echo statements. Yeah, that's another WTF but what the hell... at least it's good entertainment.

EDIT: Ok. I have lived. I have seen all there is to see in the world of programming languages. Because there is a programming language called Taxi which is based on "escorting data across a virtual town." And there are more such things. Like Ook! and COW.

God save me. (Tomorrow morning is the General CS 2 final exam).

Thursday, May 18, 2006

That double is a float, you f'in piece of f'in s !


Whoever out there is a programmer, or at least a tech-head, should read this IRC conversation -

And be prepared to ROFL for 20 minutes.

Warning - If you don't program and/or enjoy computer science, you will not like or understand this.

Also, this site is quite nice - Some of the comments for each post are funnier than the post itself.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Windows update in Firefox

So yes it can be done.

In a very old blog post I reported that Yahoo! Avatars are now supported in Firefox as well. My friend Shikhar commented, "I'm waiting for the time when Windows Update starts to work in Firefox."

Here it is.

Of course that site is not from Microsoft, but it's supposed to work anyway. Funny thing is that it won't work in Internet Explorer :-P

They also have an interesting License Agreement: When downloading the WindizUpdate plugin, you did not have to agree to the terms of any license agreement. You are free to do whatever you want with the software. This includes disassembly.


Friday, May 05, 2006

I played a concert grand!!


There is one in the Campus Center conference hall, which unfortunately is either private property, is only meant for exclusive use of some people, or is a showpiece. But at last night's spring festival, they used that piano for a performance (I wasn't there then). Now I had a performance in the other hall too, but I lost all my picks and had to search for one. Fortunately, Iza found one in the conference hall. The conference hall was empty then, with 2 guys folding up the equipment.

After the show, I came to the conference hall to return the pick... and couldn't resist it. The piano was shiny-new, golden brown in colour. So I sat down and hit the keys. It had a very warm touch to it. The sound was loud, and I tried to play it slowly so as not to cause any disturbance. I hit some random notes, when one of the two guys exclaimed, "We have some music, eh!", in a German accent.

Well I decided to get on with it. I started playing, what else, the Moonlight Sonata, 1st mvt :-) After it I also played the first part of Für Elise. The sound was heavenly. It was not a Steinway (in all the excitement, I had forgotten to note the make of the piano), but it sounded sweet, with enough sustain and a darker, warm tone (the piano was probably not more than a 6'). The keys had a light touch, which was great because I could be much more expressive with regard to the volume of each note (anyone who has played the Moonlight sonata knows what I mean).

So there it was! My first real encounter with a concert grand! Though I had played one before for 2 minutes, when I was in Boston (and it was a Steinway), at that time I couldn't really play anything. Now I could.

As I was leaving, one of the guys said, "It was nice!"
"Yeah, the piano - it's real nice!", I said as I walked out of the hall.


Thursday, May 04, 2006


Life to me is one big iterative programming laboratory. You try new things. Some work out, some don't. If it does, great! If it does not, it's a lesson learnt. You go back, modify your plan of attack, and restart.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Summer is here

24 degrees Celsius today. The campus looks like a freakin holiday resort, with groups of guys and girls sunbathing every 20 yards, people playing beach volleyball (in the sun after a looong time), blasted music on boomboxes etc etc. It's actually hot in here in my room. But Patna is burning already, I wonder what it will feel like next month when I go there.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Body awareness my ass

Some sort of "Body awareness week" is going on, and some people at IUB have been sending spams about it 2-3 times every day since last week and now it's getting on my nerves. Since expressing any personal opinion on the IUB mailing list is usually frowned upon, I thought I'll vent here on my blog. So yeah, this is freaking me out. The emails say various things, "Love your body, stop hating it for once, stop counting calories and stop being ashamed of your own body" ... and now there is a competition to write a poem about your body, encouraging students to "be creative, because anything goes!"

What the hell? One or two emails are enough, I get the message. But twice every day?

And what more, now they are having some sort of Osho meditation thing going on. I hope they don't hold an orgy in the name of body awareness. In Hinduism, the body is said to be a prison for the soul and the ultimate goal in life is to free yourself, and here these people are, asking us to "love our bodies". Honestly, I am not much of a religious person by any means, but I sure do not care the least bit about my body or whatever, within the healthy limits of staying fit and groomed. I am certainly not obsessed neither do I support such obsession. Unfortunately, at IUB there is this specific trait (I can't get a better word) - that of selecting something totally stupid and making a deal out of it.

Some time back, they were creating an anti-racial-discriminatory organization. There is no discrimination at IUB whatsoever, and the idea was severely criticized by most students. Then they started forming an anti-sexual-harassment body. Well...

And the best of all, the student government succeeded in getting "Offices" in the student activity center building. Although they feel more "official" and authoritative now, the rest of the student body doesn't give a damn. How? Well, last month, the student government was sending out a few emails every week advertising their new offices. The interesting bit is that the email went like - "Want to talk about something with a member of the parliament, or just grab a coffee? Come to our new Student Government office in the SAC!"...

Then there is conformist tradition about academics. When a student pointed out a less-than-optimal way to solve a problem, he gets the response from the TA - "This is not a course on efficient programming. This is a course to learn the basics of computer science." On another occasion, when I pointed out that almost everywhere a stack is top-down instead of bottom-up, I got the response - "You are not everywhere, you are at IUB", and then they proceeded to modify one of the language constructs to include a special way so that we can actually solve the homework problem - the correction coming the night before it was due.

What more? About two months ago I sent an email to the facilities department asking them to get the only publicly accessible piano at IUB to be restored from the horrible condition it is, or at the very least, be re-tuned! Their response -
"Dear Prashant Vaibhav,
not our duty!!!!
Thank you for your request."

That was the exact response I received. Now I totally agree that it might not be their duty, but could they so much as take the pains to tell me WHOSE duty it was if not the Facilities Management? But why do that, why not let me stay caught up in beauraucracy? Which reminds me, I still don't have my laptop back, after the whole semester has ended.

Anyway. Now close this window and go and love your body. Ciao.