Saturday, October 13, 2007

Microsoft Windows Deserves to be Thrown Out of the Window!

I spent the whole of last Sunday trying to clean a couple of hundred viruses off a family friends computer. The installed anti virus claimed to have quarantined the viruses but they kept on coming back. There was a virus that created an autorun.inf file in the root directory of all the drives that went on calling an executable that had some control characters in it so I could not delete it (or maybe the files were locked or something.) The only alternative was to do a complete reformat of all the drives. A fresh install of Windows without the reformat would just bring the viruses back.

Now my family friend had all his data on this machine and as most non geeks never considered backing any of it up (most non geeks have this idiotic notion that computers are magical machines that never fail, go on chugging on and on and can magically generate all of their accounts for them.) The machine was so badly messed up that I could not even get the data written to a cd. The cd writing application went on failing (was probably infected badly) and after creating a couple of coasters I realized another approach was required.

I needed to get rid of all the files that Windows would not allow me to delete and yet preserve the data. My solution was to use System Rescue cd ( The is a Linux boot disk that comes with utilities to help you recover from a disaster. It even lets you mount a NTFS partition and perform rescue operations on it.

I first booted into Windows and copied all the gentleman's files from the desktop and his other folders into one common directory. This was to ensure that I wouldn't lose any of his files on the desktop etc when I deleted the Windows directory. I then booted in System Rescue cd, mounted the NTFS partitions in Linux and deleted the Windows directory, Program Files directory and all the dlls and vbscripts the viruses had left in the root of all the partitions thus deleting only Windows, the viruses and leaving the gentleman's data intact.

I then booted off the Windows XP disk and did a clean install (installed all the drivers etc.) Made sure the computer was not connected to the broadband connection (unpatched Windows on the net is a no no), installed a couple of hundred patches that Microsoft has released since XP SP2 (from a disk I had), installed an anti virus (AVG), connected the broadband connection, updated the anti virus signatures, did a hard drive scan once more just to be sure and was done! I rescued a Windows system with a Linux cd, isn't it ironic!

This left me thinking. Critics of Linux claim it is not ready for the desktop, I however contend that if we install Linux desktops for people who aren't familiar with the best practices of keeping a Windows installation spyware and virus free, we will have less infested machines spreading malware on the net thus making the world a better place. The Linux desktop has evolved over the years and you can be as productive on KDE and Gnome as you are on Windows.

Before going on, I'd like to confess that I have been an evangelist for Linux myself, I like the idea of people around the world building something amazing and giving it back to the community for free. I love the concept of the free exchange of ideas. The hippie in me believes this is the way the world should be i.e. the unrestrained flow of knowledge and ideas for the betterment of everyone. I have a Windows desktop (a dual boot with Linux actually.) Some of my favorite applications are on Windows and that is what has kept me from taking the complete plunge to Linux. There was something that kept me booting back to Windows, that is until I found this article: -

The author lists alternative applications in Linux for the functionality he can't do without in Windows and goes on to show how to setup Fedora Core 7 with these applications, making it the perfect desktop for home or business use. I found that the applications I cannot do without are a subset of the applications listed in the article and I could actually stop using Windows.

For an office application I am already using Open Office ( on Windows. MS Office is too buggy and prone to viruses for my liking. Yes feature wise Open Office is not a par with Office 2007, it is more comparable to MS Office XP. I have never used or needed to use all the functions in MS Office XP anyway and nor do I use every feature available in Open Office so I have no problem with this and it is completely functional for me.. Open Office is also available on Linux so I am all set on the office front.

For email, I use Mozilla Thunderbird. That's is available on Linux, so I'm good to go there as well.

My browser of choice is Mozilla Firefox, also available on Linux. Awesome!

The application most used on my home computer is Azureus, the bit torrent client, it runs even when I don't (I leave it downloading in the night when I'm asleep.) Available on Linux as well! Great!

If you are a user who uses his computer for browsing, mailing, printing letters etc. (soho apps), Linux comes with everything you need (at OS installation time). However if you are a professional who is used to certain dtp apps, photo editing apps, etc, you will find good alternatives in Linux but don't expect your favorite applications from Adobe / Macromedia to be available on Linux anytime soon. You guys are better off migrating to Mac OSX if those apps are required. Also gamers are better of sticking to Windows, most game companies don't support Linux. For gaming a console would be a better choice.

Microsoft was heavily promoting the security features of the new Windows Vista, yet a five year old virus can infect it! After six years of development, the capitalist monkeys at Microsoft have come up with the abomination that is Windows Vista. I say “Hasta la vista Microsoft”, I'm off looking for greener virus and malware free pastures. Years of development have only produced more eye candy in the OS and eye candy that requires an unbelievable amount of horse power to run. If eye candy is important to you, google search for the screen shots of KDE 4 (still under development), looks much better than Windows Vista I think.

Thanks to the good people at for that excellent write up listing alternatives for all my favorite Windows apps, I'm finally taking the plunge to Linux (avoiding booting to Windows for everyday tasks). I will update you on my experiences as I go along.

As you can tell from my previous posts, I only post a blog entry when I feel passionate about something or I'm pissed off about something. So thank you Microsoft for ruining my Sunday trying to fix that abomination of an operating system you call Windows. People are migrating in masses away from you to Mac OSX and Linux, serves you right for creating crap and trying to sell it to us for a shit load of money!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Skin and Bones

If everything could ever feel this real forever. If anything could ever be this good again. The only thing I'll ever ask of you ... you've got to promise not to stop when I say when.

Thats not me getting poetic, its the lyrics to the Foo Fighter's song ”Everlong” and also the way it makes me feel while hearing it. Actually I'm hearing the acoustic version of it from their live acoustic album – Skin and Bones.

I have to admit, I have rocked to Foo Fighters songs in the past but have never until this very moment realized how deep their lyrics are. I never really gave the album version of “Everlong” much thought. I don't know if it was the weird video that put me off or the fact that Dave Grohl is screaming his lungs out which completely ruins the sentiment of the song for me.

A band shows its true metal on an acoustic performance and this is where Foo Fighters shines. I have to say Skin and Bones is one of the best live performances I have heard. The band puts so much energy into their live performance that you can even feel it off a pre-recorded cd. Dave's voice takes you through a range of emotions and on some of the tracks he goes from slow and peaceful to hard and heavy seamlessly. This live performance will take you through a gamut of emotions, from love, to heart break, to betrayal, to sentimental.

The acoustic version of Everlong has hit a chord with me, it makes me want to laugh, cry, be in love, all at the same time! I can't make up my mind if the song is that brilliant or I am going through a hormonal change!

Some of the other notable tracks on the disk: -

Best of You -

I've got another confession to make, I'm your fool. Everyone's got their chains to break, holding you. My heart is under arrest again, but I'll break loose.

I think we all have been under someones spell at some time or the other and needed to break loose. I can relate.

Walking After You -

If you'd accept surrender, give up some more. If you walk out on me, I'm walking after you.


My Hero -

There goes my hero, watch him as he goes. There goes my hero ... he's ordinary!

I can't quite figure out if Dave means ordinary people are heroes or he means that we worship people / celebrities and they turn out to be ordinary people. Either way, an awesome song!

Times Like These -

It's times like these you learn to live again. It's times like these you give and give again. It's times like these you learn to love again. It's times like these time and time again.

A song about recovering from ... whatever. I love this song, second only to Everlong.

People do yourselves a favor and go out and buy this disk. Buy it, download it, rip it, steal it, I don't care! Just get it!

But seriously, this is one of those few disks worth burning a hole in your wallet for. Heres a link to it on -

My mood today: Manic depressive, questioning my place in the universe ... yet singing Everlong at the same time. Can't get the damn song out of my head.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Communal Identity

A Sindhi gentleman posted a comment on my first entry saying that he found my blog very depressing and that he didn't like the fact that I referred to myself as a cheap Sindhi. I was offended that this man would be so quick to judge me. My first thought was that if this gentleman cannot see the humor in my writing style, he must be an extremely stuck up person! My impulsive, take no nonsense side immediately took over and sent him a stinker of an email telling him that he had no sense of humor (I was a bit more rude actually.) He responded by telling me that sense of humor at the cost of my community was not right.

After this event, I just feel the need to say that my writings were never meant to offend anyone. This event has also led me into an introspective phase on how I see myself in the community and I finally have the answers.

I see myself first as a child of God, then as a self aware intelligent being, then as a citizen of the Earth and finally as an Indian. I wonder why the word "Sindhi" is only a label to me. Is it because of the fact that I went to a Catholic school? Is it because my closest friends are from different communities, some Hindus, some Christians, some Muslims and some Parsis? Is it because most of my colleagues at work are from all over India? Hell most of my own team at work is made up of South Indians, some of whom I have grown to respect a lot.

While growing up I always disliked the fact that my father was a member of a Sindhi banking association and not just a banking association. Then there is also the fact that two of my closest friends - Arif and Nalini, a Muslim and a Sindhi (half Gujarati actually) fell in love and got married against some of their parents wishes. One of my oldest / closest friends Dev, his father is a Sindhi, his mother a Muslim and his wife is a Christian. I feel blessed to have grown up being exposed to people who can see beyond the artificial boundaries of community.

The fact is that the way the world is progressing, we are all becoming one big global community. Yes there will still be wars and communal riots etc., but big business, outsourcing and the Internet are ensuring that the world is one big global village and a person who sees himself as a Sindhi first is in my opinion archaic.

As for the post where I call myself a cheap Sindhi. That comes from some of my friends who have called me that at the rare times when I have acted miserly. I known they meant it in jest and there was no way that that old Sindhi goat (errr I mean gentleman) who posted that comment could know the history behind it and why I used that term.

Lesson to be learned from this event: Not to get affected by someone posting a negative comment on my blog and not waste one hour of my very limited personal time writing about it.

My weight today: Oh damn!

Calorie Intake Today: Uh oh!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Money vs Memories

When you have children in the family, a camera is a necessity. When my Canon Powershot's ccd died, I was really depressed because all the cameras I liked were over Rs. 20,000 and that was waaaaayyyy over my budget.

Considering the fact that Vyohm and Vyndhia (my niece and nephew) look so different every month and I want to document every milestone, I decided to fight my Sindhi genes and burn a hole in my pocket and go ahead and buy the camera.

Vyohm and Vyndhia are staying with us for the weekend and I had the perfect opportunity to get some good shots. I was lucky enough to capture a video of Vyohm standing on the dressing table in front of the mirror playing with the tube light switch. The video has captured Vyohm, his reflection in the mirror, the light going on and off and his delight at being able to control the light.

The cost of the Sony DSC-H5 was Rs. 29,000. The shot of my nephew Vyohm in front of the mirror ... priceless.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

My Spiritual Birth

The way I view the world and what I am today is a result of the sum total of my experiences and my observations. I figure that the first non introductory post in this blog should be of an event that made a deep impact on me – my first meeting with my Guru.

This was back in 1992 when petrol was cheap and the net was something you could catch fishes with. My Guru Ma Indira Devi (we affectionately called her Ma or mother) was staying with a disciple in Bombay. My mother and sister were already followers of Ma and I found it absolutely ridiculous that my mother and sister were sub-servant to the will of another. While I was no atheist, the only spiritual activity in my life was the ten “Om Namah Shivays” I did, as mechanically as one brushes ones teeth every morning (just to ensure that I don't tick off the powers that be.)

Ma had already stayed in Bombay for a month and she was expected to go back to Pune within a week. My mother and sister had nagged me all month long to come and have a darshan of Ma and I had refused. They then used the oldest trick in the book that most men have no defense against - emotional blackmail - the you don't care for me card. Checkmate! I knew all my excuses were useless against their play but I wasn't ready to concede without negotiating a few terms. I agreed to come and meet Ma if they would agree to the following terms: -

a. They would not introduce me to anyone (I am extremely anti-social btw)
b. They would not force me to bow to Ma
c. I would wear my Guns 'N' Roses t-shirt which had an inverted cross with four skulls on its edges (each representing a band member)

So I packed my ego, my emotional baggage and went to visit Ma. I happened to visit at the time of the evening bhajan session. The bhajans went on for over an hour and all that time I was sitting in the back of the room looking down hoping that no one in my social circle would see me there and that I could get home in time for head bangers ball on MTV.

At the end of the bhajan session, my mother and sister got up to pranam Ma and since I didn't know anyone there, I followed them. Ma looked at me and said “Son, have they forced you to come.” I don't know what happened to me but I felt like bowing and I touched Ma's feet.

When I got home that night, I felt a change in me. I was feeling more energetic and happy and it was not the kind of temporary happiness one feels when one gets a new toy. I thought that maybe there is something to this and to this person and something that I should investigate some more. I wanted to visit Ma again and see what this was all about and yet I was too embarrassed to let my mother and sister know that I wanted to come again.

The next day at the time my mother and sister were leaving to visit Ma, I quietly got ready (no evil t-shirt this time) and sat in the car without saying a word. Ma actually smiled at me and asked me if I had been forced to come that day. After the bhajan session got over, Ma gave prasad to another girl and then made a gesture in my direction. I had no idea what was happening and some people actually had to tell me that Ma was giving me the prasad. I like to think that it was at that time that Ma accepted me, the way I am with all my baggage.

I like to think that Ma's Bombay visit was all about fetching her wayward children to get them back into the fold.

Ma has a Mandir in Pune and they have just launched a website.

Please have a look at the Mandir's offical site

On another note, I have just picked up a Sony Cybershot DSC-H5 camera. Check back in sometime for my thoughts on it after I have had time to play with the beauty.

In cyberspace, everyone can hear you scream

Lately I have been feeling the need to see a psychiatrist ... I seem to be suffering from low self esteem issues. When I was ten, I wanted to be an astronaut. When I was fifteen, I wanted to be a rock star and now that I am in my thirties, I have ended up as a lowly software engineer. You see, my aspirations have gone from the Moon to Madison Square Garden to being locked up for long hours in a dimly lit cubicle at work (henceforth referred to as prison). Since I am also a cheap Sindhi and don't have the heart to pay a psychiatrist, I have decided to pour my heart out on this blog for therapeutic reasons.

No but seriously, this blog is a place where I can collect my thoughts, write reviews and otherwise just rant. I hope you find my blog as witty as Adrian Mole's and as shallow as Bridget Jones diary.