Sunday, November 21, 2010

Andhra Pesarattu + Bru Coffee

What a way to start a Saturday morning from Boston - Pesarattu (Moongphal Dosa) with allam-ulli-pacchimirchi (ginger-onion-green chilli) topping + Allam pacchadi (Ginger pickle) + Bru Coffee

Monday, November 01, 2010

The best Enginnering Wonder - Howrah Bridge

*** Re-post from Archive ***

It was third month of my first year engineering. English Professor came to the class with the corrected answer sheets for the 2nd Internal.

Everyone would be anxious, but one guy was more than anyone.

A small flashback in this flashback -
The 1st internal was an exercise of 40 'Correction of sentences' (The university hadn't had released the textbooks by then.) and he was the topper with 19.5/20. Only 3 others passed, but managed only 13 or 14. Unfortunately he was off on the day the results were announced. A guy who was unknown to 90% of the class even after 1st internal, suddenly became popular in all branches – Only ten persons passed in the whole college and his answer sheet was displayed in all classrooms advising them to follow him.

Coming back to this day –
The Professor started giving marks and papers. Like many other language professors, he was also quoting some great write ups, some wild imaginations and some unthinkable blunders only Engineering students could do (Of course, each branch has its style). Everyone was laughing and this guy too.

After waiting for a long time, only his paper was left. He was tense. Not only he, but many others since he was the topper in that subject last time.

A part of the exam was to write an essay on ‘The best Engineering Wonder you have seen’. Everyone was eager to know what he had written.

The Professor picked it up and started-

"This guy topped in the first cycle. I was happy that there was at least one capable guy in this college. Now look, what this guy wrote.

He chose ‘The Howrah Bridge’ and wrote 6 pages on it! Can you people imagine it?
Turning to that guy, 'You had written very well. You explained everything in detail. The article was good and well-organized. But, as a Computer Science Engineering student, I expected people to write about Computers and not Howrah Bridges or Ganapavaram bridge(Our college was beside a riverlet on NH5 with a bridge starting almost from the gate). At least, you can write on robots or some How in the world that you got this idea? Actually, you proved that you were an Engineering student.'"

The guy stood up like that. He couldn’t understand initially whether the Professor was praising him or making fun of him. The last sentence got him the answer.

You can understand the situation in the class and the teasing he got for the next few days.

p.s.: The guy was no other than JB, that is, I.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Creative Zen X-Fi2 Review

Review of Creative Zen X-Fi2 music player

Summary: Sounds excellent, navigation needs improvement

Pros: Sound quality, X-Fi feature, EP-630 earphones, plug 'n' play, S-video out
Cons: Navigation menus, Rigid touch screen, no video playlists, no volume control button

Overall Rating: 4/5
Quality of sound: 4.5/5
Quality of video: 4/5
Touch screen: 3/5
Menu navigation: 3/5

Detailed review:

I have been using Creative Zen X-Fi2 for more than 2 months now. I listen at least 1-2 hours daily while commuting and whenever I get bored.

Sound quality:
I bought this after months of research on various personal media players (PMP) in the market and was not disappointed with the sound quality. I have used Sansa Fuze, Apple iPod Nano and Creative Zen for considerable period. In addition to these players, I listened to songs a few times on Apple iPhone, iTouch Classic, Sony S-series player, Microsoft Zune and Nokia N-series. I would rate Creative Zen on par with my Nokia Ngage 3300 series phone. The high-quality EP-630 earphones too make a difference. And the X-Fi feature rocks!

Video quality:
Although the player is supposed to support MP4, I could play only WMV. The default supplied software is useless not only for video conversion, but for everything, including song/video management. I use RealPlayer's free media converter in Windows Vista. This is the best I found in my online research. I wish they release a version soon for Ubuntu.

Touch screen:
The touch screen was initially rigid, but the calibration had improved considerably since two firmware updates by the Creative. I do not face any issue, though I would not compare with iphone. I think most of the disgruntled users were using their thumbs as the general practice for most of the handheld devices. Try using index finger - it's a lot better.

Menu navigation:
Creative team should immediately pay attention to the menus. For performing a simple task of turn up/down volume, one has to first press home/power button, unlock the screen by dragging the bubble lock out of the screen, either wait for the song to appear afer few seconds or navigate to Music -> Now Playing, touch volume icon, then slide the bar up/down. The player surely does miss the special volume button that a normal Zen has.

Other features:

Video out: Though I got the audio-out working without issues, I failed to get the video-out to an LCD TV with an AV cable.
RSS feeds: Forget about this. This was one of the driving forces to buy this product - I dreamt of synchronizing my player every morning and read the feeds on the train to work. Phew! It takes at least an hour to sync 10 feeds and it strips the whole format so that it would be like reading a raw text file on Notepad.

Random play: The random algorithm needs some tweaking - For me it always repeats the 20 each from the top and bottom and a few from middle, though I have more than 800 songs on my playlist and I choose "Shuffle without repeat".

Applications: This is one of the exciting things about this player - they provide a development kit using which interested developers can create applications. The language used is Lua, which is also used by Adobe's Photoshop Lightroom and World of Warcraft. By default, Creative supplies Sudoku and Pushbox games.

I recommend Creative Zen X-Fi2 for pristine music listening experience, not thinking about the touch-screen, applications and RSS packages. Without this extra baggage and forgetting X-Fi crystallizer, Creative Zen is a cheaper alternative. People looking for a gadget as multi-purpose can go for Apple products or other options.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Creative Zen X-Fi2

Creative Zen X-Fi2 - I finally owned one after researching and waiting for 6 months.

Creative Zen X-Fi2

This is the 4th media player I have got - previously owning Sansa Fuze, Apple iPod Nano and Creative Zen. In addition to these players, I listened to songs a few times on Apple iPhone, iTouch Classic, Sony S-series player, Microsoft Zune and Nokia N-series, etc. With all this experience, I would rate Creative Zen X-Fi2, the second on the list of music players I have listened. I said the second because the first is my Nokia 3300 Ngage series phone.

Nokia 3300

To begin, the first time I listened to the music was in late 80's and early 90's when my mom used to play old Telugu and Hindi songs on the Philips radio. Those were the golden days, which used to start with Vandemataram song @5.55 AM on Akashvani (AIR) followed by P.Suseela's golden voice on Aaraadhana & Bhaktiranjani and then, Janaranjani from 8.15 AM. I got introduced to Ghantasala, Janaki, SPB, Chitra and Ilayaraja on these programs.

Once dad brought Weston audio tape recorder from grandpa's house to get it repaired - on which, brother and I would play some random songs for some period. Later, we bought a Philips 2-in-1 and dad maintained a good collection of B&W songs from 50's to 70's and classical carnatic music. At that time, dad was learning flute and I came to identify some carnatic ragas.

Occasionally, we used to listen to songs on 2-in-1 stereo at relative places during vacation. My cousin and uncle used to have large collection of Ilayaraja and Rahman songs, where I came to know about 80's and 90's music.

An AIWA walkman bought by bro and Videocon Bazooka (woofer) TV brought a new dimension to my music listening on entering the youth. The walkman was the first entity that introduced me to the pleasure of listening on ear-phones and the Bazooka told me about the bass and how to play aloud the beat in the songs. I started listening and viewing private Hindi pop albums from the likes of Strings, Aryan brothers, Colonial cousins on MTV, ATN, V and SS Music(Southern Spice) channels.

Music listening had become a serious hobby and a habit when dad bought me a PC during engineering. I bought a Frontec headphone at that time and collected lot of albums, especially those composed by Ilayaraja and Rahman. I used to play around the presets in Winamp and the playlists being repeated till late night.

The first mobile I bought on joining job, Nokia 2300, was the best in low-budget (< 5K INR) phones to play FM in stereo.
When it was stolen, I decided to buy an MP3-enabled phone - I checked various models on Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung and LG, out of which, I chose an INR 8K priced Nokia 3300, that was an early model of Ngage series. That was one of my best decisions in purchasing. It was a "Made in Finland" piece, supposed to be the best and the original unlike the widely available Chinese-made Nokia phones.

I would rate this phone as the best, over the ipods and zens. I still have this phone with me.

When I came to US on office project work, I did some research on music players and finally bought Creative Zen 4 GB player. I have also bought Apple iPod Nano curious to know about the iPods. Out of these two, I rate the Zen higher, not only on the basis of ease of use without the headache of iTunes, but also for the sound quality. I feel ipods are somewhat overrated and hyped comparing to other players. I also bought Sansa Fuze player to gift and it also sounded good.

I also bought a Plantronic Gamecom 777 headphone with $90, that plays 5.1 Dolby sound. My roommates were shocked with the price, but I decided to buy thinking it was a once-in-a-lifetime decision and I was not wrong, when I started listening to songs and watching movies with that.

After coming to US again, I decided to buy a media player again and started my research again. The news that Creative Zen introduced the new touch-screen X-Fi2 player, but I was taken aback by the high price, 130$ for 8-GB, when it was a simple player without any apps, unlike iTouch. In the mean time, I searched for other players, waiting for the right deal. I ordered V-Touch player for 50$ twice, but luckily/unluckily those were missed in post. In the mean time, Creative release apps and sdk for Zen X-Fi2 and the price came down by 20$ inspiring me to order Zen X-Fi2.

I am still not fully using the player - but will soon put a detailed review.

Friday, May 14, 2010

S.Janaki for Rahmaan tunes

Last week, on Ms.S.Janaki's 73rd birthday, a lot of Telugu TV channels telecasted special programs. Though, I was happy that the channels remembered the event, the heartening thing was that almost all programs defined her highlights of career as from MLA(1975) movie to Kshatriya Putrudu(Devar Magan, 1992). How could they forget the exhilerating combination of S.Janaki - A.R.Rahman. Anyway, it is too much to expect from TV channels.

So, I thought to introduce/remind those golden songs in this post. Rahman is my second favorite music director after Ilayaraja. Though she had sung very few songs for Rahman, each one of them is a gem, equivalent to her old hits. Although I listened to versions by other singers like Lata Mangeshkar and Chitra in Hindi/Tamil for some of these songs, they couldn't mesmerize me like Janaki's voice (though my intention is not to compare the legends).

Given below are the Janaki's hits for Rahman's compositions -

1. Sakhi (Alai Paayuthe/Saathiyaa) : September maasam -

Asha Bhonsle sang the Tamil version.

(Links are for Telugu versions unless specified otherwise)

2. Oke okkadu (Mudalvaan/Naayak) : magadheera magadheeraa-

Sankar Mahadeavan couldn't match her.

3. Jodi (Prasanth-Simran Tamil movie): Kadile kaalame jeevitam

4.Uyire (Tamil) (DilSe - Hindi): nenjanile

Hindi version, Jiya jale (DilSe) was by Lata and Telugu version, "Innallilaa" (Prematho) was by Chitra. But, I like the Tamil version

5. Premikudu (Kaadalan- Humse hein muqabla): Erraani kurradanni gopaalaa -

She sang Tamil and Hindi versions too

6. Gentleman (Gentleman- THE GENTLEMAN) : Kontedanni kattuko

7. Palnati pourusham - Bandenaka bandi katti

Vandemataram Srinivas lent the male voice

8.Super Police - Pakka gentlemanni

9. Rangeelaa (Tamil) taniyea taniyea -

Tanhaa tanhaa by Asha Bhonsle in Hindi

10.Sangamam (Tamil): Maargazhi tingal allava -

This is my pick of this list

11. Alli arjunaa(Tamil): Endan nenjil -

12. Udaya (Tamil): Anjanam -

I heard three languages (Telugu/Kannada/Tamil) in this song

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Thirst for knowledge

I had written the below post in 2008 on my organization internal blogs, which I had been resisting to post on internet. Finally, I decided to post this, after getting ready to face any reaction from my father.

A majority section of mid twenties Indian IT junta feel this. They are under graduates who jump into a job almost directly from college campus. Then, they start feeling they should have studied more – prepare for CAT, GMAT and others.

Reason can be anything – money/career/growth – for some, it is knowledge.

But, most of them fail to make any progress – again due to many reasons/factors – The most common reply is lack of time.

I'm one of these.
I always liked to do a PG through correspondence even though my well-wishers advise me to take an MBA for better career. But, I haven’t taken a step – largely due to lack of time (Standard reply – but for me it’s valid to an extent – Why should I always be in projects where I have to slog at least 14 hours a day) and importantly due to the confusion regarding my onsite trip - I don’t want to stop in middle.

But, as a son of my father – I should not say this.

Why? You should read my father’s visiting card or name plate

Y.B.R, M.A(History), M.A.(English Lit.), L.L.B, B.Com, D.B.M, D.P.M.,D.I.M, A.D.I.M, C.A.I.I.B

Believe it or not! He is currently writing betterment examinations for his M.A.(English Lit.), unsatisfied with his results!

In addition to the above, he has a PGDCA, certificate in COBOL (got in 1987).
He is an expert in Foxpro programming and BankMaster (application still used in SBI and I believe in many nationalized banks).

He laid his hands on VB, HTML, javascript as well.

He didn’t leave Blogspace as well. He maintains around 20 blogs on Blogspot covering varied subjects like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Vivekananda, Indian Economics, India current affairs, US current affairs, Ayurveda etc. He has blogs on some other sites like, etc., but I don’t remember their names.

He has learnt flute (there are around 20 in my home now), sitar (still present), tabala, harmonium and to some extent violin (still present).

I am ashamed to tell this but, on more than one occasion – one can find me glued to TV watching some junk and my father studying in the first floor.

Then, how can I say I don’t have time! Yes, I don’t have. I have to go back and get ready for a client meeting.

But, I still have this dream – my kids should admire me more for a person I am than due to the natural liking for a relationship – just like I do at my father.

Ah! I forgot - For people wondering what some of the initials are -
L.L.B - Law
D.B.M - Diploma in Business Management
D.P.M.- Diploma in Personnel Management
D.I.M.- Diploma in Management
A.D.I.M. - Advanced Diploma in Management
C.A.I.I.B. - Certificate in Accounting and I(don't know) Instituional Banking.

p.s.: My father's blog profile

p.s. 2: He was not a graduate when he started his first job.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

IPL in the North-East

Team for the North East in IPL-4 - what a novel idea Mr. Anil Athale has suggested. Yes, why not a team, for example, Guwahati Gladiators?

True that there are some logistic constraints, but I do not think it is difficult.

Oh no! Just after I wrote this, I came across the news that Mr. Modi wants to limit the number of teams to 10 – He should get away with one of Ahmedabad or other tier-II cities and go to Guwahati.

In case, rediff site is blocked in your company, here are some points from -

Dear Mr Lalit Modi ,
I am a great admirer of you and the way you have put the Indian Premier League on the top rung of world sporting events. The carping critics, and there are many, are shocked that cricketers are being offered huge monetary incentives or are 'bought' and 'sold'. We Indians are hypocrites when it comes to money matters. Laxmi is the most favoured deity in all households and yet we claim to not want her.

I spent good month in the north-eastern states last year, meeting a cross section of people. The dominant impression was that the people of the north-east are yearning to join the national mainstream. Any one who has travelled to those parts of our country will testify to the fact that the people of north-east are some of the friendliest.
Insurgency is long over there and in many respects, Kohima or Aizwal are far more peaceful and safer than Delhi , Hyderabad or Pune. To illustrate the sea change in the area, one instance sticks in mind. Captain Neikezhakuo Kenguriise, who hailed from Kohima in Nagaland, was awarded Mahavir Chakra during the Kargil border conflict. Captain Neikezhakuo led his platoon to Tololing ridgeline overlooking an important army formation, ejected Pakistani regulars and re-captured the ridgeline in a five-day-long battle. But he lost his life in mortar shelling on June 18, 1999. When his last rites took place in Kohima, virtually the entire town turned up. Many newspapers commented that more people turned up for his funeral than even for the last journey of the legendary Naga leader Z A Phizo.
Unfortunately such is the ignorance of mainstream media and rest of the country that these landmark events are seldom noted or reported. You, Mr Modi have the chance to correct this. Why can't the north-east have a team in IPL-4? Why can't we have some IPL matches played at Kohima, Imphal, Aizwal, Dibrugarh and Tezpur besides Guwahati. All these places are connected by air and I am sure the state governments will be more than willing to build stadia. The media exposure that the IPL will give to these beautiful places and people will boost tourism, economy and promote national integration.
Currently many businessmen pay hefty sums to insurgents in the noth-east. Surely they can spare some of it to sponsor a cricket team! Also some time ago the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the International Cricket Council talked of spreading cricket to China.
Then why not to our own north-east? Given the sterling sportspersons that these areas have produced I am sure the next Sachin Tendulkar could well be from Manipur!
As to the so called insurgency in the north-east, a ruling party politician had once confided to me that the north-east states themselves make sure that there is some insurgency is kept on otherwise as he said, "Delhi will forget that the north-east ever exits!" Sad but true.
Mr Modi, here is your chance to make a lasting contribution to nation building that would be remembered by posterity.

I know it is a daunting task to plan for this at short notice, but if you could do the miracle of shifting the IPL -2 to South Africa last year at short notice, surely you can do this!
Yours sincerely
Anil Athale
Colonel Anil Athale (retired) is Chhatrapati Shivaji Fellow studying internal security.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Save Telugu

This topic has been long pending in my mind, but the specialty of today, Feb 21, reminded me that it would be the right time. Today is International Mother Language Day

The other day, while I was in a call, my mother asked me, “Disappoint ayyava?” - though I was a bit disappointed, I was rather surprised with the question. Definitely, my mother and father are the last ones from whom I hear Telgish - bring back the question,how much Telugu the current conversational Telugu contains.

On the other hand, every Telugu bloggeri is trying to invent Telugu alternative words or make exact Telugu translation to replace some latest terms to revive their mother tongue – bloggari (blogger), antherjalamu (internet), jalamu(net), salegudu (web), nesarlu (thanks), tapaa (blog post) – to name a few. Even, there are many online forums where these mother language lovers fight over what should be the perfect Telugu term for an internet generation word.

But, I think the safeguard/revival of the language should be taken priority over trying to add new words to the dictionary. I have no reservations using the terms blogger and internet, just like train and calculator than their respective innovations, Dhumasakatam and Ganana yantram. New words from not only English, but also any language can be invited into Telugu in the same way as some Telugu words have made to English, Hindi, Tamil and others.

The terms Marchaavaa? vs Change chesava?, Rasaavaa? vs Write chesava?, Pilichava vs Call chesava, Pampinchava vs Send chesava, Veltunnava vs Goingaa, Vastunnava vs Comingaa, Raava? vs Not comingaaa - it is disappointing to say this, but the second terms are widely used compared to the former ones. And, the worst thing is, people make a mockery of someone who says Adi marchaava? instead of You changed thattaah?.

Sadly, this situation (not the mockery part) is not only in Telugu, but for every Indian language. As far as I know the Tamizh are exceptions to some extent, however the effect is slowly reaching their lands – I have been hearing Try panninga, Change panninga often these days(not sure panninga is exact word).

So, I request everyone – when you speak in your mother language, try to speak completely in your language. No I late ho gaya and nenu today send chesta, please!

Please try to do your part to ensure Telugu (or your language) does not join Boro and Boa sooner or later.

Excerpt from the above THE HINDU link (

Two unique languages disappear with death of last speakers -
When Boro died on Strait Island last November, Boa lost a friend. The world lost a language.
Last week, Boa also died. Another language died with her.
The death of these last surviving speakers of two Great Andamanese languages, Khora and Bo, has resulted in the extermination of their unique tribes on the islands.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Guntur Bomb

I come from Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India. Apart from education and rowdies, this place is very famous for hot cuisine - Guntur chilli, Guntur gongura, Guntur avakai – those names are enough to ooze saliva in mouth.

Guntur mirchi bajji with green chilli chutney – it will top the world's hottest food menu. And, the hottest mirchi bajjis in the Guntur city are made at our street – Donka Road.

On casual browsing, when I stumbled across a post on Guntur Mirchi in a national magazine, The Outlook, it brought back some memories.

When I was 6 or 7, my uncle (father's younger brother) took us to the Bajji bandi for the first time to return the favors my brother and I did to him at our shop.

From that day, mirchi bajji has become part of my life – it is our favorite pastime. Bajji party is the standard treats for every occasion. I have friends who take the bajjis daily.

The important fact is that I have never heard of stomach ulcers and gastric complaints from any localite I know.

I miss the Guntur Donka Road mirchi bajji badly :-(

Some excerpts from the Outlook article (source: -

You wonder what Guntur would be like without its chillies.

Guntur's chilli trade is second only to Mexico's in the world; a bad season shakes the city to its very hub.

This, though, is but a momentary lapse, as Srinivas Rao will tell you. This Gunturian has been wheeling his cart to Donka Road Crossing punctually at 7 every evening for the last 22 years, dishing out over 5,000 plump, green chillies a day dipped in besan and deep-fried in a kadai the size of a small lotus pond to his enthusiastic clientele. His business, Rao informs us in between skimming the chillies out of the blubbering oil, is booming as never before. No, Guntur can't do without its mirch masala.

Are you still wondering about the title, Guntur Bomb – it is the common name for our own Guntur mirchi bajji. Brahmanandam makes a reference to Guntur Bomb in Chiranjeevi's Chudalani Vundi movie.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Web Marketing

These are my thoughts after reading a blog-friend, Veera’s post on his external site about adsense .

Google Adsense and other similar intelligent internet advertising programs process and analyze the content of the webpage being displayed and generate the ads to be displayed. But, as Veera pointed out, readers who know about Adsense do not click on these ads. We do everything to avoid ads - keeping pop-up blockers.

I feel that the web marketing still has a large potential to expand. The companies can tie up with major web-sites and blog sites of popular personalities from films and sportspersons. At present, as far as I know, the films deal only with internet media partnerships and brand tie-ups. The internet media partnership only looks into the tie-up between producer and an internet portal like or for the film’s promotion. Similarly, the brand tie-ups involve interleaving promotion of a market brand within the script of a movie – for example, Aamir Khan drinking Coca Cola throughout a movie.

But, how does it look if there is a full-size image of Aamir Khan drinking a Coca Cola as a permanent left side banner on his web-site ( Likewise, a thumbnail picture of Coke bottle could be put at the start of each paragraph on the article, like a bullet. The person reading the blog may feel to drink the coke after visiting the site. This is not as obtrusive as pop-ups and user need not click on anything. The company can pay the site owner based on the number of web-site hits and not on ad-clicks.

If the soft drink companies could reach out marriage invitational flexi-boards in remote villages, why they are ignoring such popular spaces on the internet for ads.

Now another question that may arise is how does such strategy help normal bloggers like me, who are not stars but starters who have to build up viewership. The companies can tie-up with blog sites like blogger and wordpress to insert their advertisements in blog templates and let the blogger choose one or more of the companies to display on his/her blog. The blogger can paid based on the count of web-site hits or trackbacks and the blog site can charge the company either based on the number of bloggers or a fixed contract value.

Any blogger will be happy to put the company logos and product ads of his/her liking than to depend on some randomly-generated ad, which on most of occasions is totally unrelated to the blog content or to the readers.

I am not sure if such marketing strategy is already in place, at least I do not see it. Perhaps, it may not be popular or I might not have observed carefully. If such idea is not in place, I believe this idea is worth to be evaluated by the companies.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jyoti Basu and Jyothi Basu

One of my favorite leaders, Jyoti Basu passed away. The news were more disappointing to me because I was his namesake, though I spell it with an "h" - I was named after him.

How can I forget those moments and barrage of questions whenever my name pops up - in schools, colleges and interviews - an easy and dependable ice-breaker. "Interesting name", "How did you get this name?", "Are you from Bengal?", "Are you communists?", etc.

With such short public memory, rarely I would get this chance going forward.

However Jyoti Basu was my favorite for better reasons than name - Ruling a state 24 years continuously in democratic setup was a great achievement, and that being done by a Communist added more to that (though there we`re some different views about the goondaism).

That 'historical blunder', anyone remember it - what would have happened if he became PM instead of Deve Gowda. Certainly better [if not for Jyoti Basu, for communist rule :-) ]

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Henin's back

Look who's creating latest waves in Women Tennis - Justin Henin has almost made a dream comeback. I think I should think twice before I put my philosophies :-)

She retired in May 2008 - and participated in 2 reality shows since then.

I think true champions cannot sit idle - not an iota of difference for this blogger who has not stepped out of the apartment for 24+ hours now, just eating and browsing.