Tech Takes


Guest blogged by Anuj on April 11, 2008.

I apologize for what I wrote in the post; “Ideological Confusion“. Turns out that GQ was right, one can make a Ubuntu PC almost as good as, hell better than Leopard through plug-ins like Compiz-Fusion.

However, I would still love to by a MacBook Pro, see the essential thing’s that I feel that they have essentially copied the idea, no what I mean is that the seed of the idea is OSX, and it uncannily reminds me of OSX, it’s pretty good but I don’t know why I feel like it’s a copy of windows i.e. second hand ideology. I don’t know why I think this way but in my point of view Apple has been there, done that and maybe they have learnt a few lessons along the way. I know it’s irrational but I believe in Apple, oh deus it has happened twice in a day; I’ve started believing things! I am getting senile at 16!!

Just kidding, I am waiting for their next distro to come out and then I’ll comment, but it looks pretty darn awesome. Can’t wait for 24th April, this is insanely great stuff!! I am waiting and hoping…

Food For Thought Tech Takes

Getting Over It

Guest blogged by Anuj on April 8, 2008.

“You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.”, these are the words of Scott McNealy. Think about it, today everything you do can be monitored as more and more information about your life migrates to the Internet your privacy keeps on getting closer and closer to zero. No matter how much people protest this dictum, but nevertheless he was correct. Until the time comes that quantum cryptography becomes widespread we will live in a world where nothing is personal, nothing at all, if you think that your mind will protect you then think again. There’s been recently a lot of uproar about fMRI techniques that enable researchers to make better and better lie detectors, hell they can even tell to a certain extent what activity you’re performing by seeing which parts of the brain light up. Then there’s cybernetics, if brain-computer interfaces become widespread then who can stop anyone with the right techniques from reading your brain like a printout, your inner most sanctum is likely to fall within a few decades. Now a few decades isn’t that far away is it? Well the thing is that it isn’t a really distant events, it’s happening now, but mass scale and sophisticated use will take some decades. So now what? What should we do?

When you think about it you realize that you don’t have any privacy anyway, you made the choice to give it up for better service long ago and you didn’t even realize it, so why the hell are you getting so paranoid now? If you think you haven’t done anything like that, then think again; do you own a cellphone? If yes then your location can be easily triangulated and the company knows your location at all times have you ever noticed that helpful little label that tells you where you approximately are? If you think that nobody uses it and you’re safe, then what about calling, people with your number can reach you any time they want and they can enter your life at any time, any place. Now, did you think about this before you bought your phone? Probably not, all you thought of was “ooh look it has a camera, ooh look it can play mp3s, ooh look it looks so damn cool, I want one”. That’s the problem 80% of the users don’t use even 20% of the devices capability and have little or no knowledge about the product, they simply want to buy it due to the flashy ads, which never tell you everything about anything. Why are you lamenting, dear consumer? You, yourself, created the conditions for this to happen years ago, so why are people getting so worked up about it right now? Face it, privacy is dead, get over it.

What I am trying to say is that we will never go back to the Cro-Magnon days of privacy, the benefits and the convenience are simply too great. In short get over it, you know that life will be hard without it, anyway who the hell gives a damn who you are? It’s simple economics at work you chose to give it up because you found a good incentive in whatever convenience was being offered and you chose over time to make a world model on. Think about it.

It isn’t that bad, those fMRI scans will help to change the way we think about the brain and they are changing and will change the way we look at the brain, the same goes for cybernetics, see BCIs will have a lot of ethical problems with a lot of hypocrites but the fact is that they will give the handicapped a new lease on life and they will allow the average Joe / Jane to do some pretty amazing stuff. Think of the possibilities of a BCI, they’re endless; I will be able to learn instantly, all knowledge would be within my grasp. Imagine the gains we will make in augmenting humans, we will be able to make people smarter than any person who has ever lived in the history of the human race, this would allow for exponential progress in all fields. Now forget that vision and ask yourself; when do we cross the line and become a true totalitarian state? Where people automatically behave like a flock of sheep, each controlled by it’s implant, with a complete and absolute surrender to the status quo? Was George Orwell right?

We are discovering what it is to be a human and each time we reveal a layer we gain information and information is power, if society doesn’t adapt itself for use of that power then there are chances that something will go wrong. We are at this point in time at a critical juncture of human history, we can either choose the methods and the gifts of science and progress, or we can reject those methods and destroy ourselves in the process, what will we choose?

Okay, in case you’re wondering why the hell did I through that nugget at you, then here’s your answer; my parents want me to buy a cellphone. To which I had only one answer “Hell no!”. See, I hate being accountable to anyone, I am the master of my own will and a cellphone will effectively halt that, so what should I do? I worked out a very elegant solution, I turned the thing around; I told them that I won’t keep anything on me except for an iPhone and if, and only if, they invest in one when it comes out legally in India, will I use a cellphone. Now I gave them a good, long lecture on multi-touch, why it’s so insanely great and my mom, basically, gave up after the ‘pep’ talk. I agreed to give up an aspect of my life for the chance of having that gorgeous thing in my pocket, yes that’s a pretty good incentive for me, I love it plus I can use it.

In short, I got over it.

On A Whim

Untitled Observation: V.

Guest blogged by Anuj on April 11, 2008.

You know life has those moments which make you go “whisky tango foxtrot”? I just had one, one of my cousin sisters is apparently getting married, and hell I didn’t even know that, the date is yet to be fixed so I guess I haven’t been informed and I pretty much don’t care. After all what the hell am I supposed to do prance around like an aide or something?

Here’s the twist, she loves me or something and has requested me to come to her wedding and do all the stuff aides are supposed to do. Ahem. Ahem. I am at a loss for words, I never knew she loved me that much, I mean we’re a part of family, but the only interaction I ever have with her is purely technical, I ask her about her job and we discuss stuff about the IT industry etc. Now this? I mean she actually likes me? Now that’s a surprise.

Okay, I have decided not to let her down, I will do whatever she asks me to do, even if it concerns religion. I mean how hard can it be? Fashion is such a no brainer and if I can figure that out*, surely I can do this stuff? Why do I have a funny feeling that I am becoming the next Metcalfe?

* I see it in this manner: people are obsessed with making themselves better and I guess physical appearances are important for them, but what I don’t get why the hell do they have those weird outfits and why the hell do they change it every six months? Is it that terrible or they just want to screw people up and earn money, I am guessing that both these factors are at play, anyway forget it, seriously forget them, they’re like a plague. I mean it’s so simple; this looks good, this doesn’t; one is insanely great the other is crap; 1 or 0 end of story.

Stop The Press

Our Politicians Are The True Hillary Clintons Of The World

Guest blogged by Anuj on April 11, 2008.

India is hoping to become a super power and yet it’s set to perform a massive, radical self inflicted brain surgery in order to remove whatever was good about it. Information is power, and the only way we can progress as a country and as a species is by driving out ignorance. So are we progressing towards that? Well no.

The IITs, the much hyped colleges for engineering in India, are bullshit; they actually fail to educate people up to the required level, that’s why companies spend so much on training new recruits. The total amount of intellectual output they produce, all of them, is less than that of MIT. Compare the total number of graduates MIT produces (8000) to all of the IITs combined (4000), and that’s just one institution, doesn’t this tell you something?

Look at DRDO, ISRO* have these organizations done something truly groundbreaking? We are yet to send out a probe to the moon and in this day and age when private entrepreneurs are planning to do it**, the government should be ashamed of this. Oh I forgot, they’re a bunch of shameless, hypocritical pricks.

You know, how they have decided to go about this?

With reservation; the Indian Supreme Court*** has upheld the decision for reservation in colleges, government jobs and the various other places it happens. You know what reservation is now up at frikkin’ 49.5%, nearly half of the people who will enter into the best colleges of this country like IIT, AIIMS, DU etc. will not deserve it, even worse is what will happen to the already teetering infrastructure in these colleges, no one will in the end get the quality education. I just want to ask one question: why?

This essentially shows the myopic policy making practiced down here, nobody has thought of what happens in the long run, which is disastrous. What we’re essentially doing is that telling people who’re better than them, a ‘no’ because they weren’t born in one of those families, this is the real apartheid, ignorance can’t be driven away by ignorance. Nope, they’re much better off spending money on the crumbling primary school infrastructure and setting up policies which encourage merit, not this, but then again will this get them votes?

In short they are the true Hillary Clintons of the world, they’re getting killed and they don’t have any hope, yet they choose to mess up the battlefield and leave things worse off than they are.

My Pitch

They should improve the crumbling government schooling system; make it better by infusing capital and skill in order to provide quality education to the masses, hell make them better than the private schools, thus ending their monopoly over knowledge. The poor cannot get quality primary education in this country and if the basics themselves haven’t been covered, then how can they expect them to do anything in the future?

Next up is our higher education system, which is still standing, somehow. What we need to do is that we need to create more institutions, which are better than the existing IITs, we could invite foreign universities to set up shop over here. They’re pretty interested in India and I think that by letting them set up shop here we can get a better curriculum, thus we can change the way education is imparted in the country. It will take time but it will work, do you know why we need to change the curriculum? Because it’s useless, people are actually under trained, that’s why companies spend millions of dollars every year to train their new employees; doesn’t this tell you something?

We desperately need to re-vamp the system; it doesn’t foster innovation rather it alienates it. It needs more funding, more investment in new institutions with uniform quality standards, which should increase over time, look at the Chinese they’re doing it. We need competitions like the X-Prize, which help people to compete, practically, with their innovations to solve pressing problems for a big incentive; we need to get people more involved in the functioning of the world; we need them to connect the dots. This way we can solve literally everything, yeah even the Riemann hypothesis, prove it rather.

The government agencies in effect should foster this process and nurture this, like DARPA does, we can learn a lot by observation and it’s time we do. Instead of re-inventing the wheel over and over again, we should get our facts straight and realize that we can’t afford to do this, we can’t afford to play with fire like this, sooner or later this combustible mix of power and ignorance will blow up in our faces, and we’ll then stand and play those stupid blame games.

The only thing that should exist, except for the merit based application system, are scholarships, we need to get brilliance into our colleges not village clods, who don’t know anything. Competence should be the judging factor not genealogy, hey after all aren’t we all descended from one common ancestor? How does that fit into their plans?

In short an injection of money and skill is needed in order to prevent the system from collapsing under it’s own bureaucratic weight.

*Agreed they have developed geo-stationary capability but that has been around for a while, they could have easily learnt it from the Americans or Russians, they have done nothing truly groundbreaking in the fields of astronomy, space exploration and aeronautics which are its primary responsibilities. Why?
They’re under funded, who would want to work for such a crappy institution when they could easily get a job at NASA, where they would pay 10 times as much as they pay over here, plus they do actual research.

**Think Google + Think lunar + Think Different = Google Lunar X Prize

*** I used to think that the Supreme Court was free from corruption and, probably, was one of the few clean institutions of the land, that wasn’t meant to be; money talks and these courts are there up for grab for the right price, like every other institution in the land.
My father’s friend was telling me about several cases where the judges have been bought not for lakhs, but crores, and that behind each and every decision there’s, usually, lots of money involved and anyone who speaks up loses his/her job and position. If the organs themselves are involved how can one expect justice? Mass mobilization is the only way out, or one could use the game theory and make corruption a disincentive, by imposing harsher penalties, improving detection methods, aiding people who talk and adding moral humiliation to it.
See if the top ranks are corrupt then corruption cascades down the system until the whole organization is corrupt. People are corrupt due to the fact that it has major incentives involved and that everyone else also is, so it becomes a matter of survival. Change this, and you change everything. Read, Michael Shermer’s excellent article on this at, click here.

Tech Takes


Guest blogged by Anuj on April 11, 2008.

I guess most of the people who know me, know that I use peace and peace out a lot. I do it becaue I like it, and I strongly identify with the counter culture ideology, I wish I was there in the 60s. Anyway I found this in Fake Steve Jobs’ blog, I didn’t know what to do, whether to laugh my head off or change my vocabulary, you tell me.

Fake Steve Jobs
Creative Commons License photo credit: insidetwit

If you didn’t read it, then check this out:

Let’s show the world that the Valley isn’t just a bunch of self-absorbed money-grubbing narcissists who don’t care about anything except ripping off shareholders and giving ourselves options and making ridiculous amounts of money. I grew up here. I know better. I know we’re not just a bunch of glorified Circuit City salestards who spout a bunch of Eastern religion hooey and fly around in private jets feeling morally superior. We’re the smartest, most creative, most innovative people in the world. And we’re pretty spiritually enlightened, too, by the way, if that matters to you, which I hope it does. Look, we make computers. Computers. Machines that change the world.

Seriously I need a strong cup of coffee right now, I can’t believe how bored I got today after I finished up with her, she’s coming along fine but I need to study more and get some books to do it, and the librarian tells me it will take a month, A MONTH!! The revolution would have started without me by that time. I wish that I could finish her and get it over with, it’s killing me.

I am so bored that I am now willing to go outside, man I need coffee.

Peace out.