National Geographic Photo of the Day

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A wee bit busy......

I'm a little bit busy with the semester exams coming soon, my assessments around the corner and the practical exams going on, plus the mad rush to finish portions (not by me, but by the teachers) that inevitably happens around this time. I was engaged in preparing my presentation and model for a college paper presentation event. Won that last Saturday, first place. Didn't quite get over it until today. So now I'm back to breaking my head over circuit diagrams.


Not to worry, I'll post a bit before my semester exams and a lot after that too.

Monday, October 6, 2008

iClean my iPod

I've had this iPod Nano that I had won as runner up of the TCS IT Wiz a few years back (along with a load of other goodies that would take more than a page to list). Getting back to topic, the iPod is notoriously infamous (no matter what the model or colour) for being a scratch magnet. No matter what they change, Apple never quite seem to reduce the scratchability factor. They don’t seem to understand that an iPod can and will end up in one’s pocket along with the car keys someday. As a high ranking Apple official once put it when someone complained about how easy it was to mess the surface up - “You put it in your pocket with your car keys?” Now that isn’t exactly a crime!

Just as the “i” has given scope for numerous accessories, so too has this led to a market chock full of iPo
d cleaning products. Ranging from snap-on cases to skins to cleaning solutions to screen protectors. There are even a few homegrown ideas one can try out if your iPod gets desperately dirty. One of them involves using toothpaste. Toothpaste is mildly abrasive and it supposedly “evens out the rest of the surface so that the scratches are invisible”, according to the proponent of this innovative method. There was another bright soul who suggested online that one use Brasso or an equivalent Brass Polish to clean the scratched surface.

Now I, meanwhile, had a much simpler solution to the problem with the front face getting scratched. You see the iPods come with a thin peel-off
film when you take them from the new box. Now what most people do with such films is peel them off the moment they get such electronic devices and then go “Wow, look how shiny it is”- for as long as they can, because its obviously not going to stay that way for long. On the other hand, I had left that cover on my black Nano for the last 2 years, I’d barely entertained the thought of taking it off – knowing very well the issue of the itchy iPod.

The back however, being made of shiny metal, didn’t have any sort of protective cov
ering. SO it had had its fair share of brushes and looked like a rather scratched mirror. NO amount of Brasso or toothpaste could set that right. I did recently get myself a Philips mp3 player cleaning kit. It contained a thin microfiber pouch, a fixer/cleaner, a cleaning liquid, and a protective film. I also got myself an iVak Scratch free case for the Nano with a rubberized red exterior (went well with the black iPod). Emboldened by these new tools at my disposal, I set about finally removing the printed film which had in the course of time stuck quite firmly to the player. After some gentle coaxing, it came off to reveal a wonderful, shiny black surface and a perfect blemish-less screen underneath (shown in the picture above).

Wasting no time, I put three drops on the microfiber pouch and cleaned the fro
nt and back thoroughly. I must say the results are quite good, if not brilliant. Then after having stuck the supplied film to the screen to protect it from scratches, I snapped on the case. Voila – there was my snazzy “new” iPod in a refreshing Red-And-Black (no political affiliations here) combo!

College Updates

Rupesh's birthday came along last month. For those of you who have read the last few "college" posts, you'd probably remember him as the great "3-time rat killer". For those of you who haven't, here's a picture of his birthday cake!!

The "Ebiz" initiative was at full swing in college, what with people giving business meetings dressed in their bermudas. Vain attempts at getting rich the easy way. Spending about Rs.7000 a year and hoping to earn something isn't quite my idea of "an assured return". Looks like the warden has had his fill of MLM (multi-level marketing).

The long drives to college (16km one way) and back in my Hyundai Accent have been helping put more miles in the meter and smiles in the faces of the petrol bunk owners. Look at the number - 32222!!!! I guess I’ll have to wait for 33333 ………

Well here’s Yours Truly taking class (Digital Logic theory), in the absence of our professor.

Sundaram’s place – specially marked!!!

Get Steel Body Sundaram in front of a computer and turn on some game, that’s it you won’t be able to make him budge.

Some folk at college insist on a rather more traditional dress code, above you see Mr. Arvind (day scholar to some teachers –whenever he’s late to class ;-) - and hosteller as per his convenience – though he is indeed a hosteller). Note that the Veshti/Dhoti /Mundu he’s wearing has come off Mr. Terror Tamilselvan also in the picture.

Our hockey team (of which our most honourable Class Rep is a member) won a match at the zonal stage. Upon their return this wonderfully spelt message greeted them.

When one “puts too much Mokkai” in class, and fetches chalk for the professors regularly (what can I say, shit happens when you’re in the first bench) – certain apt funny names show up on one’s bench during lunch. All in good spirit!
PLEASE NOTE: That isn’t Vethu, they’ve made a spelling mistake by substituting a V for a G. Our class’ Aappam Anu needs new glasses.

An Ode to Signs on Hostel Doors.....

The following are snaps I took of various hostel rooms – specifically their doors with the most wonderful words of advice written on them.

Take a close look at each one.

There are some rather vain attempts at keeping people from dirtying their rooms with shoes and slippers on. But quite entertaining.

Mr. Cactus is now 2

Mr. Cactus is finally 2 years old. His birthday fell on September 20th. He had a little bit of cake and an extra quota of hugs and playing in addition to his usual time.

Here are a few photos of Cactus trying on some accessories.

Tired with the day’s play, Cactus has a nice nap in my room.

Of Good Kerala restaurants….

I wouldn’t go outside to have any Keralite cuisine, because that’s what I get at home. Usually, it’s Don Pepe, Planet Yumm, Radha Park, the Park, Barbecue Nation etc (when we just feel like going out), or sometimes The Residence (at Park Sheraton), Taj Coromandel, or Le Royale Meridien for special occasions. Of late however we had gone to one restaurant in the hope of finding the ultimate Kerala food. Being from a Malayali family that has its origins in Kerala, I feel I have the right to comment on this Kerala-themed restaurant in Chennai.

I’d gone a few weeks back to “Ente Keralam” (translated as “My Kerala”), a restaurant in Mylapore for lunch. When we arrived we found that the person who took our reservation had conveniently forgotten to take the name down in his register, and we ended up waiting along with the rest. And the “rest” wasn’t too small a number. You’d think that people would have plenty of restaurants in Chennai to go to without this one being on their list. In the interim, there were people leaving who’d drop a line “My Compliments to the chef”, “The food was really good” and various variations.

I thought “Could this then really be the definitive Keralite restaurant?”

I hadn’t long to wait before the doorman whisked us in. The first thing we noticed was the prices – not that we mind high tags – but sometimes it feels strange paying sky-high for things you eat at home regularly.

Anyway, our entrée consisted of traditional beef cutlet, which on arrival was found to contain rather less beef in comparison to the coating. The biriyani (both fish and chicken – separately) that followed didn’t really have that kick in it, and it looked more like the masala really hadn’t taken hold. The Kerala Parotta and the prawn masala that came up next were much better though. There’s one thing that is THE essential Kerala dish – something that we look for at every Keralite restaurant that we frequent. It’s called Kappa (I think the vegetable is Yam) with Meen Curry (Fish curry). Upon enquiry we found they didn’t have it that day. I wonder as to how many “that day”’s would have passed till then with no Kappa and Meen Curry.

Kerala also conjures in one’s mind visions of exotic seafood. It was later revealed that the restaurant that they’d JUST run out of stock when it came to crab and lobster the previous day. Yeah Right!!! Neither did they have Pathiri, a traditional dish among Muslim families who lived in Kerala.

The final blow however was when my aunt had a desire to drink some Mor Kaatchiyadhu (It’s buttermilk with spices and stuff in it – gives it a new twist) after lunch. A small cup with some of it landed in front of my aunt. Later when the bill presented itself, we found out that they’d put a price of a 100 rupees upon that simple cup of Mor. I hardly think the experience we had justified the kind of price tags they put and their claim to be an authentic Kerala restaurant. It’s more a place where you can take the Uninitiated and show off. Oh, all those poor deluded souls complimenting the chef on the quality of the food!

If you want to have some real Keralite stuff, head over to “Kumarakom” (the restaurant, not the place in Kerala). They have six restaurants in Chennai; last I counted, near Parsn Complex and near the Chennai Trade Centre. There they don’t have skyrocketing prices, what they do have is a nice ambience and you do get really good food (and all the dishes are available most of the time). “Ente Keralam” – Truly yours indeed!

A Road Rant

Around the time Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam (our alumnus) had come over to MIT campus, Anna University, they had been re-laying the road outside. Since we couldn’t bring our vehicles in then, we had to leave them outside college till lunch time. I came back to find a dent on my Accent (no the rhyme is unintended). This was amazing considering that I really couldn’t have parked it more to the side of the road; the only remaining parking place was the pavement itself. I would very much like to meet the guy who hit his bike or other stupid vehicle upon the car that day; perhaps I could give him a few dents myself.

Of course there’s the other extreme – people who park wherever they want, whenever they want, however they want. Sadly, this indeed constitutes the majority of the public in Chennai. Parking in front of someone else’s gate is thought to be justified by the comment “Naan Road le thaane park pannirken” (I’ve parked it on the road only). The irony is that parking on the road is in itself admitting to a crime. Courtesy has gone out the window, with every IT bugger and his uncle buying a car without first knowing the common courtesies of the road. With the Nano coming out by the end of the year, it’ll be hell on earth with these small cars choking the already inadequate infrastructure. Thank God for the flyover at Kathipara junction, else I’d be stuck in a 1 hour jam each day on the way to college.

Double parking is commonplace everywhere in the city, no wonder the traffic gets stuck even on wide roads. When big businesses open their doors, they must first ensure that they have parking space wherein the phrase “parking space” isn’t synonymous with the footpath and the road. Spencer’s Plaza is an excellent example of very well distributed parking. Whereas Citi Center only contributes to side roads all filled with Cars parked inconsiderately on either side.

When it comes to actual driving, no one really seems to know of lanes. It bugs me when people go really really slow in the right lane, and it seems most people here find it rather tiring to move their fingers an inch towards the indicator lever when changing lanes. Its just “Oh there’s a gap, now let me cut in front of the other guy already in the lane”.

Not to mention signals. As far as Indian driving goes, you’re an idiot if you wait at a red light. Waiting a minute won’t exactly kill you, will it? Doesn’t anyone know to drive properly; is it that hard to follow the rules of the road???

Rear View Mirrors should be made optional in our country – it sure would save a lot of money. Obviously, either no one looks at them or they’re folded shut or they’re angled to give a view of the driver’s own handsome face!

And this habit of immediately going around the outside of the right lane the moment there’s a traffic jam. It only aggravates things, why can’t everyone just wait in line and hence ensure the smooth flow of traffic. We talk the talk when asked why foreign roads are much better, but we sure don’t walk the walk. The basic attribute lacking in an Indian road user - whether pedestrian or vehicular – is discipline.