A bit of this and that

Linux. Humor. Randomness

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"Do what you love"

A friend, an year junior to me from college pinged me one night. 

Him : Hey, I completed one year today at work. Feels weird..
Me : weird in the sense?
Him : I mean, what am I doing kind of crisis
Me : In life?
Him : Over all, career wise..
Him : Was wondering if you have been through the same
Me : Do you feel lost and don’t have an idea of what to do with life and are just going along the stream?
Him : Yes, kinda

23 years, that is when most engineers would have completed an year at work. They have moved past the honeymoon period, the manager expects you to complete your work at the same rate as the other guy with 10 years of experience. The lunches you take with your friends at work are now reduced to 30 minutes from 1 hour. You hardly have the time to play table tennis in the recreation room.

In short, as the proverbial saying goes, shit just got real.

In 2013, I, like my friend was in a somewhat similar situation. I had received 2 admits from decent universities in US for Masters and was on the verge of going to one of them.

After a painful 5 months where I only cared about getting into a university, I finally sat down to think if I really wanted to get into a university. I questioned myself as to why I was doing masters - because my peer group was doing it? The social reputation that a post graduate degree carries?

I spoke to a few close friends about my dilemma - those who were doing their masters and those who weren’t and all of them had a similar tone in their responses - they too did not know what they were doing with their lives.

I stopped there. I stopped to think, what do I really want to do with my life. I then stumbled on a great article [1] by Paul Graham that gave me the new view point to my life.

I looked back at my 23 years and wondered if I have it all figured out. I asked if I was doing what I loved. Heck, I did not even know what I loved! I did not even know what made me happy. Yes, a sleepy weekend where I spent the whole day in bed completing a TV show marathon certainly made me happy. It made me happy for a day or two. But would I want to keep doing it everyday? everyweek? and still be happy?

No!

I had to think of other things that made me happy. I had to introspect and this wasn’t something that got over in a hour or two. In my 18 years of education, I never had tried my hand in anything other than preparing for exams. I wasn’t good at sports (partly because of my physical attributes) nor was I good at the finer arts. I hadn’t even tried learning a musical instrument, I hadn’t checked if something outside Science & Technology interests me. All I did was follow the herd and I never stopped once to think if what I was doing was what I actually wanted to do! What if there was some hidden talent in me that was never explored! This was one of my biggest fears.

I stopped.

Time, money and exposure were the main reasons I couldn’t do things I wanted to earlier. But now I did! I had the time and money to experiment and explore and the internet for exposure and guidance. But this required me to stop spending time on my career/tech. I wasn’t planning to quit my job, but I wasn’t going to hack on the weekends or try the latest CI tool or contribute to an open source project. I stopped bothering about keeping myself sharp and updated, I took time off without taking time off.

I first picked up a guitar and guitar course on Coursera. I failed, my fingers could never really get along with the hard strings. But I didn’t regret the time or money spent ‘cos now I atleast know that I could have never made a career out of playing the guitar. I know that I did try and I was convinced that it is not for me. It is OK to try and fail. 

I next took to travelling and boy did I love it! Finally something that made me happy!

I was interested in Psychology ever since I stumbled on a Psychology text book in my PUC Library. And now was the time for some real psycho shiz - I took up ‘Social Psychology’ on Coursera and completed it with a statement of accomplishment. (The first course I completed after 4 other failed courses). I actually loved Psychology and the inferences that were made at the end of every experiment, I participated in classroom discussions over Hangouts, read research papers and completed assignments. I even signed up for advanced Psychology courses available.

I had given myself a 6 month window where I stopped comparing myself to my peers, excused myself from the rat race and went on an introspection journey. I got a clearer idea of what to do with my life and what direction it should take. I planned to quit my job and move on.

I learnt new things about myself and about life in itself. I started feeling better about myself - I was no more a person who did nothing but prepare for exams in his life. I tried, I explored, I experimented. I now don’t regret (as much as I used to) that I didn’t do anything apart from building a career in my life.

All these things matter in life. It is understanding oneself, the greatest mysteries of all.

When I grow old and look back at my life, I don’t want to see only books and work. I want to see that I lived a good life, one without regrets and one where I know I gave my all to be happy.

Finally, I answered my friend on his dilemma.

Me : Stop, and take a break.

[1] - http://paulgraham.com/love.html

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Facebook is bad

Facebook is bad. I realized this in my sleep and I’m writing this at 5 in the morning ‘cos good blog ideas are hard to come by these days. And I’m blogging about this ‘cos it was too big to fit in a tweet. 
 
I have a lot of friends know a lot of people. I used to have a lot of friends before I started using Facebook, now I don’t have many. 
 
I’ve changed a few schools in my life and before Facebook came in, I used to be in touch with a lot of my old pals. By ‘touch’ I mean, actual phone conversations. Every year I made sure I wished them either on the start of a new year or an academic year and enquired about their well being and spoke about how our lives changed since we were last seated in the same bench. It used to be refreshing and nostalgic and I really enjoyed these calls.
 
Fast forward 2013, Facebook is in. People are using it like an e-diary, my old teachers are using it to upload an album with 135 pictures of a road trip (pictures of clouds, the highway ahead, the masala dosa devoured all included). The ‘met ABC in primary school adda’ entry in the diary is now ‘Checked in with ABC in Basaveshwarnagar Café Coffee Day and feeling nostalgic’ in Facebook provided ABC is cool enough and you want to be seen hanging around with ABC.
 
Like i said, I realized this in my sleep. I was thinking (or dreaming?) about this gory accident an old friend of mine met with and was wondering how I could have helped if I was there. This old friend was big boned and it would have taken at least 4 people to help carry him to a doctor. Then I started wondering if this friend of mine was still, um, big boned. I hadn’t spoken to him in 5 years and I didn’t know how his bones were now. Whoa, wait a minute and back up here a bit, I haven’t spoken to him in 5 years, let alone meet him. Hell, I haven’t even spoken to him over chat! Shouldn’t I be calling him a ‘guy I know’ instead of ‘friend’ here? 

I usually am ridden with guilt when I think of long lost friends and blame myself for not keeping in touch. But I wasn’t so here ‘cos I was still connected to him through Facebook and it gave me this false sense of connectedness that I know all about him through his sparse Facebook updates while in reality I don’t actually know anything about him. 

To prove my point further, the only friend I regularly call up and talk to, drumroll please, is not on Facebook*. Moreover, now I think of it, the only reason I call him is because he is not on Facebook! I’m sure if he was on it, I wouldn’t have called him at the same rate. 

I don’t even stay in touch with my friends on Facebook either. I have been offline in Facebook Chat for 2 years now. Just before I went on an offline hiatus, I remember myself praying that no one ping me on Facebook whenever I logged in. When was the last time, you pinged an old friend out of the blue and asked how they were doing? Do yourself a favor, go to your friend list and ping someone whom you haven’t spoken to in a long time and talk to them! Ask them how they are doing. Not ‘cos they are lonely and need someone to talk to but to stay in touch! And pray that your out of the blue ping is not met with a raised eyebrow. 

Facebook has turned into an excuse for not keeping in touch, an excuse for not calling your old friend up and speaking and an excuse for calling your old friends, ‘friends’. Before you know it, your old friends have turned into acquaintances. 

Well, thank you Facebook, for connecting me with my friends and making them ‘people I know’. 

* This friend is a doctor now, so excuse him for not being tech savvy. People who save lives can be pardoned for not being on Facebook, right? 

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NTFS Write Support On Mac OS X Mountain Lion »

Simple and lucid instructions on enabling write support to external storage devices in Mac OSX 10.8 and above. 

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Installing Sublime Text 2 in Linux/Ubuntu using Terminal

 

 Open a terminal with Ctrl+Alt+T and type:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/sublime-text-2
$ sudo apt-get update

Just to be sure, remove any installed Sublime Text packages:
$ sudo apt-get —purge remove sublime-text*

Now to install Sublime Text, type the following:
$ sudo apt-get install sublime-text

Now you have Sublime Text! Type the following to start sublime 
$ sublime-text

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Remove Linux Mint Google search from Chromium

Linux Mint comes bundled with Chromium and it has its own custom search with the Linux Mint logo. I find this annoying. It did not even go away after I switched distributions. 

This is what I did to remove the Linux Mint branding - 

Sign in to your Google account (if not already signed in) - open Chromium / Chrome settings - go to the Settings tab - section Search - Manage search engines (or just type chrome://settings/searchEngines in the Chromium’s address bar to go directly to the step we need) - locate the string www.google.com/cse**** - remove it.

Linux Mint’s search results page is now gone.

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PES Open Source Community completes 2 years of existence. 

A brilliantly compiled video by Sathyam Vellal. 

It sums up my last 2 years in PESIT. Talk about nostalgia.. 

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Being 1PI08CS070 - Sem 6

Everyone had holidays right after 5th semester - I did not. 

My new found passion for projects led me (us, rather) to start working on the 6th semester special topic as early as the beginning of the vacation. The usual suspects of KLN, PNH and me worked with Sandeepa Nadahalli to create a new advertising platform for bloggers. Oh boy, we were pumped about it. ‘AdSanthe’, it was called. 

We released an alpha version after a strenuous nightout and grabbed a few early users. The ads were serving and everyone had complaints. Meanwhile I had moved to a completely Windows free laptop (and have remained so till date). The project gave me an overall satisfaction of doing something real which was being used by people, for the first time.

I also developed a short mobile app in this time. It was a app which gives the right fare to the user for his autorickshaw ride. I developed the app in about 2 hours as I was experienced in GPS applications. The app was put up on various app sites like getjar. I spammed all my Facebook friends with constant posts and links to download the app. Surprisingly, the app was a hit which spelt the end to my MBA aspirations. Though it might sound dramatic, I can say I realized my true calling by then. 

The affairs in class were pretty much the same. The subjects weren’t that daunting compared to the previous semesters. Java was taught by a new teacher to us - Mr. Srikanth. I wish each of our teachers had his attitude and approach to teaching. The friendliest teacher in the Comp Science lot, his energy in class was contagious and he knew how to keep the class hooked. The quizzes after each topic where the 3 columns of benches were pitted against each other or the tough looking examples he wrote in class or the problems he asked us in internals which made us pull our hair - he made the class a nice experience. By the end of the semester he was on back slapping terms with the students. By the end of engineering he was one of us. 

I picked the elective of Operations Research, taught by Mr. N Guruprasad. He had earlier taught us algorithms (not that well). But the class of OR was fun! The arithmetic nature of the problems was a welcome break with no fancy comp. science term. It was a mechanical department subject after all. NGP grew friendly with the students as well. Incidentally, that was his last year in PESIT as a teacher. 

In 6th semester, we faced a dilemma of picking the right Special topic guide. We needed the right mix of experience and lenience from the teacher to score that perfect grade. We were too late in seeking Srikanth sir and had to request Rinu Sarah Jacob as our guide. She was sweet and did not bother us much - just as we had hoped. 

There weren’t too many outings in 6th semester apart from the one off birthday treats. The first taste of interviews came with Microsoft visiting the campus for our seniors. And we juniors could write the same test for a lucrative internship. I did not pass the test. By this time, an event was organized by the HOD to celebrate the tier 1 placed students and all those students spoke about their interview experiences and successfully giving jitters to a few of us. 

Buddy sessions started with Prashanth Raghu and Suraj Agarwal at the helm. They briefed us the process of interviews and gave out many handy tips in each session. About this time, we also started getting mails about possible internships in startups and other not-so-well known startups. I reached out to a startup named ‘MobStac’ who were incidentally coming over to the college for placements. After a series of interviews, I finally managed to get the internship. Oh boy, was I happy. But I was still in the dilemma to take it up as I had my CAT preparation scheduled in the coming summer. 

Then came March 2011 - this is where my life took the real direction to where I am right now. I can as well say, it was life changing for my friends too. It began with losing a friend, and then a conference called conf.kde.in happened. This is where I understood what open source actually is. It is not just writing code - It is the people. I met people who worked so hard and selflessly that made me think about what I was really doing studying computer science. The conference didn’t teach us much about open source technologies. But we learnt about the open source ecosystem. We met Sunil Rao, a head in Nokia who were one of the sponsors for the event. That 10 minute interaction with him lead to the formation of Student Nokia Developer (SND) with Ram at the helm. Today it has grown into an International organization with over a 1000 students and won international awards. 

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conf.kde.in also gave us more insight into GSoC. After the talk by @nightrose, Phaneendra was determined to give it a shot. I wanted to too, but I was really confident that I won’t get it. Come on, a 3 month internship sponsored by Google and paying 2.5L? Yeah right. I applied to a community called Komodo and failed. But Phaneendra applied to a mysterious project called Nepomuk which was something related to desktop semantics. And to everyone’s surprise, he made it. He got the project and was over the moon. I rode to his house, in the middle of the night to wish him. My first sneak out-of-home without telling anyone. 

Then came the exams, which I consistently wasn’t doing well. Hence, pathetic grades. No regrets. 

Holidays started and we conducted a 2 day workshop on J2ME and Qt as the first step of SND. I was a speaker for the J2ME location based services session. I realized how bad I really was at public speaking. I haven’t volunteered to speak at any session after that, which I hope changes in the future.

The class guys including me, then went to a trip to Kerala which unfortunately turned out to be very bad. First reason was the weather - it rained continuously. Second, the driver was a scumbag who cheated us to low quality rooms for a hefty price. We ditched the driver on the last day and the weather improved too. Personally, the worst trip of all my trips with my classmates. 

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After Kerala, it was time I made the choice between an MBA or continuing with CS. I had learnt about startups, open source by this time. My projects gave me the confidence that I wasn’t all that bad at solving problems using computers. I decided to continue with my Computer science and ditched plans of doing an MBA - hence the 24k for CAT prep down the drain. I didn’t even bother writing CAT. 

My internship at MobStac was very good - good knowledgeable people who made you realize how little you know, good environment, good work and good occasional team lunches. There were about 10 people of which 6 were interns! 

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On July 16th, Prashanth, Umesh, Suhas ( the seniors ) and the 3 usual suspects met in college with one agenda - popularize open source in PESIT. And this led to the formation of PES Open Source Community. Being part of this community is one of the best things that has happened to me. The community led me to meet knew people - seniors and juniors and befriended them all. The community has organized 2 hackathons till date and an open source conference. It has produced 7 GSoCers and and even more contributors. It is one of the few things I pride myself on.

And then there was the Yahoo Open Hack, 2011 in Lalit Ashok in Bangalore. My first hackathon which had Phaneendra, Geetanjali and Sandeepa and me teamed up. We came up with a new way to upload photos onto social networks. The overall experience was amazing! 

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Since the SND workshop, Geetanjali became a good friend and started hanging out with us guys. After the internship, all of us were made to attend a soft skills development programme in the college and they were supposed to help us prepare for placements and it was boring. PNH, KLN, RK, GGG and me and sometimes Nityata used to bunk those classes and seek refuge in the newly constructed Nokia lab ( which later went on to be my second home ). Pictionary, loafing about, counter strike, lunches became common. The wheeled chairs and ample smooth floor space helped us play dashing chairs too. Apart from this, we even prepared for our upcoming placements. 

Things learnt - 

  • I’m good at making computers do things for me
  • FOSS and startups
  • Small momentary decisions can lead to huge things like SND, PES-OS and a girl. 
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