National Geographic Photo of the Day

Friday, January 30, 2009

Motorsport Exzellenz - ein tolles Auto

In case you're wondering, the title means "Motoring Excellence - an amazing car" in German. Now why the German you ask? The reason is this post is about one truly amazing line of cars made by that company which goes by the tag line "Ultimate Fahrmaschine" - the Ultimate Driving Machine. None other than Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, BMW.

Bavarian Motor Works' round logo is one that evokes a sense of class, of style, of power, and or sheer driving excellence. A little know fact is that the company's logo was NOT based on a propeller. Instead, it was actually based on the colours of the Bavarian flag.

There is one division of BMW that arouses a special interest. The M division. Established in May 1972 with just eight employees, it grew to 400 employees by 1988. BMW M, also known as M-Technik or just "M" (for Motorsport) was initially created to facilitate BMW’s racing program, which was very successful in the 1960s and 1970s. To this day BMW M continues to produce some of the most highly tuned street legal cars available in full production. BMW M offers modified engines, suspension, interior trim, aerodynamics and exterior styling. The objective of BMW M is to sell factory production sports cars that are comfortable enough for everyday use while offering uncompromising driving satisfaction and performance. And I daresay they've succeeded wonderfully.

BMW M's M3 and M5 are among my favourite cars. If the regular BMW 3- and 5- series weren't enough, then the M3 and M5 would satiate any driver's need for speed and handling while being a refined luxury car at the same time. As a reviewer once said about the M3:

"To say the M3 is ferociously quick is to say you don’t mind revving the 4.0-liter V8 to 8300 rpm. Why would you? Like Ferrari’s entry-level models, the sounds coming from the M3’s mill on the way to peak power make the journey half the trip– as in LSD (and I don’t mean Limited Slip Differential). In absolute terms, we’re torquing 4.6 seconds to sixty. In the real world, it’s a gut punch sandwich with a side of sideways."

While the M5 is a bit bigger, the M3 is the real deal when it comes to a sports car in a day-to-day vehicle's livery. At the press of an M button on the steering wheel, the M3 can go from a racer to a family man's subdued cruiser. All settings are adjustable via the iDrive system. The car can blow away the 60mph mark in just 4.6 seconds. Awesome! In addition to all this, the machine does not lack in creature comforts either. It's even available as a 4-door sedan version, not just a coupe.

The E90/92/93 M3's specifications:

Base Engine Size: 4 liters
Base Engine Type: V8 Horsepower: 414 hp
Max Horsepower: 8300 rpm Torque: 295 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 3900 rpm Drive Type: RWD


  • 0-60 mph: 4.5 - 4.6 seconds for E92 Coupe/ 4.7 - 4.9 seconds for E90 Sedan / 5.1 - 5.3 seconds for E93 Convertible
  • 1/4 mile: 12.7 seconds @ 114.8 mph (184.8 km/h)
  • Top Speed: 161 mph (259 km/h) indicated/155 mph (249 km/h) electronically limited, 200mph (308kmh) delimited with DKG (320kmh)

As BMW themselves put it : " For insurance purposes, we call it [the M3] a sedan. This is a sedan that pairs a harmonious blend of unexpected luxury with unrivaled brute performance. It's sure to leave insurance folks everywhere scratching their heads."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

FLASH (College Campus) NEWS - Sundaram sends an SMS

MIT CAMPUS,ANNA UNIV, CHENNAI - JAN 29: Earlier today this stunning picture of Sundaram a.k.a AAA or Centum Sundaram was taken in hostel room number 3309. This is the first time that he has ever used his cellphone to send a text message. For those not in-the-know, Sundaram uses his phone only for two purposes - discussing answer papers and discussing football.
Note also, that this person's birthday is tomorrow, the 30th of January. No guesses as to what he's gonna get from his classmates. I bet a few pats (to put it mildly) on the back.

Happy Birthday Sundaram!!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Republic Day Parade

Hmmmm..... another Republic Day. Well, just what have we achieved in the last one year that's passed here in India?

Higher prices, fewer jobs, inflation, more terrorist attacks - boy, we're having a good time aren't we?

Oh well, there's the Republic Day Parade tomorrow. I never miss this one, atleast for the cool military tech and the Su-30MKIs that always make an appearance.

For those who didn't know, this time around the chief guest for the republic day will be President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhsthan. And our Defence Minister A K Antony will stand in for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is undergoing a bypass surgery, at the Republic Day function, says the Defence Ministry.

And here's the link to the webcast of the whole parade. Never knew it existed, did you? That's the link. And the programme starts at 9.25am Indian Standard Time (no, I don't mean that we'll be starting late). That's 3.55am GMT.
Don't miss it.

Pubbing in the IT Hub - Bangaloreans (ooops Bengaluru) beware!

Today, I saw something shocking on the TV. Well, it would have been shocking atleast if it wasn't something that had happened before. Here's a report from the IBN Live website:

"Activists of a self-styled pro-Hindu moral brigade called Sri Rama Sene barged into a pub in the coastal city of Mangalore on Saturday and beat up young girls for "violating traditional Indian norms," police said on Sunday.

At least two girls were beaten up and their hair pulled by the activists at 1600 hours IST on Saturday at the pub Amnesia – The Lounge in Mangalore, about 350 km from Bangalore.

The young men accompanying the girls to the pub on the busy Balmatta Road were also assaulted when they tried to protect their friends.

Ten of the activists have been arrested by Mangalore police.

From the accounts given by the eyewitnesses, who did not want to be identified, the girls were the target of attack.

About 40 men forcibly entered the pub claiming unethical activities were on inside.

They began assaulting the young men and women who ran for safety. At least two of the girls started screaming for help as a man pulled their hair. Both the girls fell down but managed to flee from the attackers.

"We have arrested 10 people in connection with the incident. They all belong to Sri Rama Sene," Dakshina Kannada police superintendent N Sateesh Kumar told IANS from Mangalore, the district headquarters.

Mangalore police confirmed the girls had suffered minor injuries."

With these moral brigades out on the loose, I doubt whether any of us can have a peaceful outing. Where in the Indian holy books does it say that a man and a woman going to a cafe or a pub together is a sin. Our regressive society seems to think that isolation from the world and encapsulation within our so-called morals is the answer to all problems. Where were these brigades when terrorists struck Mumbai? Where were during the heavy floods in August? Why didn't these fools turn up then? Why didn't they espouse "moral value" of lending a helping hand?

No, it's not a helping hand that these buggers need. What they need and deserve is the finger! Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.

Silver jubilee celebrations - the Mac turns 25

For those who've been living under a rock all these years, NO I'm not talking about a burger made by a certain worldwide brand.... I'm talking about the Macintosh - a piece of computer history that has entranced the masses right from the Macintosh 128K to the PowerBook to the Macbook Air.

Long before fish swam in Macquariums, hipsters got Apple logo tattoos and thousands camped out for days to get into computer store openings, there was a machine. Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of the original Macintosh, the first personal computer to draw masses, introduce the mouse and incorporate a graphical user interface, relying on images instead of text. The Apple Inc. watershed product entered American consciousness amid fanfare, with a $1.5 million commercial, made by Ridley Scott, wowing audiences during Super Bowl XVIII. The piece’s title, “1984,” invoked author George Orwell’s message and stood as a warning against conformity. Two days after the ad ran, the Macintosh became available and life, as people knew it, changed. No longer were computers viewed as toys with which to play primitive games or as untouchable tools reserved for degreed engineers. We began to think different.

The Mac, which retailed for $2,495 was about 14 inches tall and took up about the same amount of desk space as a piece of 8 1/2 x 11 paper. It was smaller and lighter than most of the so called “portable” machines. The entire system could be slipped into an optional ($99) padded carrying case to be hoisted over your shoulder or placed under an airline seat. The case and computer together weighed 22 pounds. The original Macintosh machine had a 9 inch screen with 128k of RAM, an internal floppy drive, and came with keyboard and a single-button mouse. Apple previously released computers with a graphical user interface (GUI), like the Apple Lisa, that cost far more than the original Macintosh. Years after the launch of the first Macintosh by Apple, they later launched the iMac in 1998. It is now hard to find a working 25-year old Macintosh. Many have suffered a “bit rot,” which is when the memory chips inside the machine decay, leading to a gradual loss of functionality.

Jeremy Mehrle, 30, of the St. Louis, Missouri, area is too young to know a world without Macs. This MacAddict began hoarding and tinkering with tossed-out computers, and then he discovered eBay. Today, the motion graphics designer's 1,400 square-foot basement is a museum to Apple computers, all-white and in gallery-style with about 80 fully-functioning machines on display.

So what would people pay for an original Macintosh?

"A complete boxed system?," he said. "I can't put a price on that."

Sources : PC World, CNN

Friday, January 23, 2009

High-Def Hoopla (for the non-geeky)

Doing The 1080p

There was once a time long long ago when a person would go to a store selling TVs and the only thing they'd have to worry about would have been the size - 21 inch, 25, 29 ... and maybe whether the TV has a Picture-in-Picture option (for the haggled man of the house :-P )

That's all in the past now. These days everyone's into HD (or high-definition) televisions. The rage for LCDs and Plasma sets continues unabated. Open the news-papers around festival time and you'll catch a hundred ads proclaiming that you need to ditch your old CRT TV set get yourself a new Plasma or LCD. Sadly, its not that simple. When buying such a new set there's a thousand things that can go wrong with selection. But what I'm talking about here is the way the term "HD ready" is perceived by the common man. The mere term HD evokes thoughts of a temporary escape to a visual wonderland. Whereas HD-ready isn't quite the same as full HD.

When a TV is marketed as HD-ready in India, it most likely has a resolution of 1366x768. This is NOT a proper High-Definition resolution. They will most certainly accept HD input signals, but they will not display it optimally. What one should really go for is Full-HD. Full-HD displays are capable of showing images at 1080p resolutions.

The resolutions available in this category are 720p, 1080i, and 1080p.
720p = 1280×720 resolution = Progressive scanning
1080i = 1920 x 1080 resolution = Interlaced scanning
1080p = 1920×1080 resolution = Progressive scanning

Interlaced video has been around as long as there have been televisions with cathode ray tubes (CRTs). Analog televisions use interlaced video, and we're so used to it that it's not something that we dwell upon. High definition video can be either interlaced or progressively scanned.
Progressive scan means the lines that make up the TV picture are displayed all at once in sequence. Interlaced means the lines that make up the picture on your TV screen are drawn in an alternating fashion. For example, if 480 lines are present in a picture, then the first frame has 240 lines and when the next frame is drawn, the other 240 lines are shown. The problem with interlacing technology is this alternating line drawing tends to cause the eyes to see a flicker. Once again, HD formats need a proper input from DVD and BluRay players. In general, HMDI is the connection of choice, though component cables can transfer HD resolutions too.

A high-definition display is however of no use without a proper source. High-definition image sources include terrestrial broadcast, direct broadcast satellite, digital cable, high definition discs, internet downloads and the latest generation of video game consoles. The Sony Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360 are both game consoles capable of outputting HD content. The PS3 even has a built-in BluRay player.

High-Def is all the rage now with even the adult film industry taking note of it. Actress Jesse Jane is considering plastic surgery to take care of some imperfections. She is having her breast implants redone because they currently look odd in high definition. “I’m having my breasts redone because of HD,” she said. Note: I don't know anything about the adult film industry. I'm just saying this cos I read it somewhere. :D

Oh, speaking about BluRay Discs, they are a type of optical storage medium of the same size as a DVD. A DVD uses a red (650nm wavelength laser) and can store either 4.7gb or 8.5gb (dual layer DVDs). However, BluRays bring a whole new game - they can store upto 50gb on a dual layer BluRay disc. This is thanks to the blue laser used, having a shorter wavelength of 405 nano metre. There used to be some mild competition from a rival format called HD-DVD but those are all but extinct now, thanks to Toshiba withdrawing its support for HD-DVDs.

In India, we don't have any broadcaster using HD signals for regular television channels yet. Though most of the direct-to-home service providers are making the right noises. Besides, the Indian government has taken the decision to broadcast the 2010 commonwealth games ONLY USING HDTV TECHNOLOGY. So no commonwealth for the analog crowd.....

Not to mention, the USA has given its broadcasters a deadline of February 19th to switch over to digital signals. Why should you be concerned you ask? Simple, if you live in the US, starting 12 a.m. local time on Sunday, February 17, 2009, the only show to watch using your analog TV will be reruns of static :D . There is hope however that President Obama could possibly delay the transition.

I bet the digerati are jumping with joy!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Does it matter what you really want?

Do What You Love

We talk so much about how people should be doing what they WANT to be doing rather than what they are doing. But tell me, how many would sacrifice plush homes, a comfortable lifestyle, a big salary, a company-leased car and what-not to just do what they love doing?

Now take an engineering student in today's India. He/she probably wants to get placed in a company paying him a truckload of cash for a really boring job. Or maybe he wants to go abroad and do his post-graduation. A few such cases would also end up in the IIMs leaving behind all the 'engineering' they've learned. Its not that said student wants to do this job so badly, he needs to take this path to ensure a good life. While his true calling might be in something like social service or espousing some cause or working with animals. He might end up bored to death with his work. But he isn't going to put in his papers just to do what he likes.

So what would you and I do? Call the guys who take the less-trodden path heroes and put their pictures up on the wall? Naaaa, i dont think so.....

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Magic Mileage Number.......

Finally got to that number on the odometer.....

Look at the reading in the picture....

Thank God the traffic was heavy, so that I could slow down enough to click a picture while driving (Note: Don't try this on the roads please).

Took it on a trip back from college.

Happy Pongal

Happy Pongal folks.....

Hope you're all having a great time these holidays......

The blog has been updated - all articles under the 2009 section are new. Use the links under 2009 on the left side of the page to navigate to those articles that don't show up on this page itself please.

Rioting - our national sport

When most people hear about some pressi
ng issue or irreverent comment by a prominent personality, they think "how rude, we should make our voices heard". Of course, there's a section of the population (in most cases the majority) who blindly follow any half-wit politician who opens his mouth after that and they start off a 'peaceful protest' against said comments. Soon they start wasting fuel (while the prices are ever skyrocketing) in burning effigies of above implicitly referred to speaker/speakers.

Now this is when more than half of the 'protesting' crowd realises, "oh this ain't fun enough, lets start the party" and the mob turns to rioting. General rules of rioting:

1. Damage and topple (if possible) vehicles parked by the curb.

2. Block the roads and hurl stones at anything made of glass on nearby buildings (who cares whether the owners of aforementioned building are involved even in the slightest)

3. Get bottles filled
with petrol (oh what a waste) ready and drop a piece of cloth in it through the bottle's mouth. Then light the free end of the cloth and hurl it at any policemen foolish enough to try to stop with you with their antiquated anti-riot equipment. The initiated would know of it as a "molotov Cocktail"

4. Any lamp posts, shops left open, public conveniences in the vicinity must be viciously attacked.

5. Stop all vehicular traffic. State transport buses are prime candidat
es. Highly useful material to make a point (is there really a point left in it?).

6. Break all windows of above-stopped bus. Now let all the folks get out (lest you want to be cannon fodder in a courthouse for the next few years and take the fall for some bigwig :-o ) and then douse the bus with flammable material. Light er' up and enjoy the show.

Now you're ready to have a really good time. To legitimize
it, get some party to call it a 'nationwide agitation'.

Sadly, thats what is happening all over India. Halfway through the 'agitation' ('outpouring of public rage' is a nice way of saying it), no one remembers why they're 'agitating' anymore. So much so that its riot-time even if some famous actor dies - I mean what did the government have to do with his death????

(Of course, Europeans riot too - each time a football match is lost!!)

In the end all you have is a few crores of public money lost thanks to the very public that it belongs to. If only people had the sense to stop this nonsense. If you really wanna burn something and "pour out your anger", go burn your own bloody house! Though Cricket is unofficially our national sport (Hockey officially for the uninformed), I suppose bus-burning would come a close second. :-(

Another semester gone by....

Three internal assessments, a semester exam and a hectic timetable later its time to say goodbye to another semester and usher in a new one.

<------Thale Tamilarasan Relaxing....

Of course, a few pictures to honour the one gone by.

<------- The Three monkeys..... ;-) Chumma galai thaan, seriousa ille.....

Below you see the boys from our class at Arun's house. He'd invited us over for lunch on his birthday. We had an awesome lunch (compliments to his mum's cooking) and followed that with a session of '

galaichifying' and general banter.

Proof why the folks at college still call a certain department a school --->

Am just kidding, anyway we saw a lot of these robots at one of the exhibits at Asymptote 2009......

Certain people have very good dressing sense. There was this time when a prominent personality from our class took it upon himself to wear pyjamas to college. Bravo, Mr..... no I'm not telling you his name....

We had to write up a list of names for some reason or other in class. When the piece of paper had finished its rounds about the class this is what it looked like.

Last Sivaranjini - music

A small excerpt from our performance on stage at Sivaranjani '08

The video starts off with me (Gaurav Rajasekar, E&I) playing one of the keyboard pieces from Kangal Irandal (Subramanyapuram) and then goes on to me, Chinmay (Auto) and Aditya (ECE) doing the Billa theme...

This was at Sivaranjani 08 - our intra-college fest at MIT Campus, Anna University. By the way, I'm the guy on the keyboard in the center of the picture, the one with the brown T-Shirt with Diesel written on it.

Kitty and his scratching

Btw, here's a little video of Mr. Bush (kitty from a previous post)...

A dog's attempt at juicing sugarcane

It being Pongal, we had some sugarcane lying around the kitchen. We decided to let Cactus have some.

Since he wasn't adept at holding it and chewing it (obviously.... duh!), I had to hold it for him while he tried to get the juice out. The above video is self-explanatory.....

An update on A Dog's Life

Cactus, the lab, is now 2 year's old. He's happy as always. Seems to love injections though. When the vet visits, he wags his tail and makes merry with him too...... I really don't remember my own self ever being that affectionate towards a doctor who's going to stick me with a needle!

Here you see him making an escape with his brush in his mouth. He doesn't like anyone brushing him up much. But nevertheless we give him a good brushing and powdering besides the weekly bath.

Below is a photo of him looking quizically at Mum after bath.... the look implies "Didn't you forget something?" - its usually his collar. He loves his collar. Doesn't like it much when its taken off, and he goes nuts and runs around in joy when you put it back on him.

After a bath he dries off by running around the compound. Then, its straight to his bed where he pops off to sound sleep. Of course, before that he gives the "oh so sad, yet so cute" look and then puts his head down and moves his eyebrows around like the late great actor Sivaji Ganesan.

At night he requires a large amount of love and cuddling. What you see below is typical of him. He'll jump onto any person sitting on the sofa or couch and then slide off slowly until he's left sitting with his butt on the floor vertically, front legs and head resting on said person's thigh.

If you're thinking "Hmmmmm, looks like this dog has it quite good!", then Wait! There's more to come. This last picture shows his feeding timetable..... Note that the chicken is strictly boneless and the pedigree dog food that he gets - we alternate between flavours (Chicken and Milk, and Rice and Chicken - i think) every other day. Aaaah a dog's life.....

Cat Crazy

As always there are around 5-8 cats around my place. And I've been busy clicking pictures of the cute little fellows.

They have a particular affinity towards the cars though - good for photography yet bad at times when you need to leave with the one of the cars quickly.

One of them has this habit of walking around and over the engine each time you open the bonnet. You have to be careful to shoo her away before closing the hood,

There's this other guy - we call him Bush (cos he's obviously quite furry and bushy) - nope no shoes thrown at him yet....

He loves posing, besides scratching his head and back and tail against my legs.
Kitty loves scratching!

My new notebook

There's always stuff that you don't want to throw away. For some people, its a pen, for others its a car, for some its a computer....
Now my old laptop (a Dell Inspiron m700) was getting a bit too slow, though it did work somewhat. Sooooooo, we decided it was time for a new laptop. Initially, Dad said I could get a notebook that just served my basic purposes. But oh well, that restriction was doomed to go out the window. After consulting a truckload of reviews, I almost settled on the HP-Dv5t. However, something in me said "Wait.. look around a bit.. don't take the leap yet." Then a bright idea dawned upon me. I had a relative getting back from the States soon and I found that for the price of the HP - Rs 72,000 + tax for a mid-range configuration (note that mid-range for me might be high spec for most, I'm really into computer configs) - I could get a far better configuration in the US of A.
So I ended up buying a brand new model - the ASUS N50vn-C1S for Rs 65k approx (which includes a 2-year International Warranty). That's $1349.99.
The specifications:
-Intel Core 2 Duo T9400 at 2.53Ghz
-4gb of DDR2-RAM at 800Mhz
-1440x900 WXGA+ 15.4 inch screen
-Built-in 2mp camera and fingerprint reader
-320gb HDD
-802.11n (as well as a/b/g) + Bluetooth EDR
-HDMI, Esata, USB x 3
-Touch sensitive media and screen lighting controls
-IEEE 1394 port
-DVD super multi-drive
-Graphics : Nvidia Geforce 9650M GT with 1gb Vram.
-Windows Vista Home Premium
-Altec Lansing speakers

The international warranty helps a lot because we have two ASUS service centres in Chennai. Quite happy with the new laptop until now, its been working fine.
It also comes with a fixed Linux OS (a derivative of Splashtop) that you can boot into in 8 seconds for simple tasks like listening to music, viewing photos and browsing the internet......
Very hand that!