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An ideal google phone - the Nexus 4

This review is a bit late considering that the Nexus 5 is already available in India.

I am sure it is going to be an awesome phone, just like the Nexus 4 is.

I have been through a lot of Android phones - over the last few years ; I must have used almost every major Android device at some point or the other since Gingerbread was released - which is quite some time ago now.

One of my favourite devices was the Galaxy S3. It felt just right to hold - the perfect shape and size , slim et al. It was STILL all plastic and the only, the biggest gripe for me.If only Samsung could have done with better quality materials. . .

I have heard a lot about the so called "Pure Google" experience or the "Pure Android" experience. For a while, before I switched over to the "Nexus" bandwagon, I didn't really think it was that much of a difference.

To me, all droids stuttered, coughed every now and then and I had accepted this as a natural phenomena on all droid devices. Until, I laid my hands on the Nexus 4 and its amazingly well integrated software and hardware experience.

Let me start with the build - not an iPhone by any means but its times better than a Samsung PlasticDroid. It has the right heft and weight to it. Feels very comfy in one hand and as long as you dont drop it , there is nothing to complain about the build quality.

Stutter ? what stutter - this is truly the first android phone I have seen which has the seamless software experience people craved for. Pretty much the best hardware specs at the time of its production and fantastic integration on software by LG/Google - after a while it dawned on me, what project "butter" and other under the skin improvements by google had materialized into.

The more I use it, the more it feels "just right" in all aspects. Yes the camera could be better in certain conditions and to each his own on the quality of pictures considered acceptable.

Bottom line is - N4 is the biggest bang for buck in the market today and if prices drop further when N5 floods the market, you can buy a N4 for even cheaper and make a really good buy - one that you wont regret even 3 years down the line and that is a long time in Smartphone terms.

Wild flower

A wild flower in bloom - as if it was conscious of its beauty.

Intemperate and haughty , knowing her like is not in bounty.

Near so perfect outside , a fragile makeup inside.

Founded on floundering principles , staggering in her ambitions.

The right and wrong all in one place , confusing and amazing are his ways

Should I enjoy the fragrance and let be or pluck it and take it with me ?

A,B and C of Software Teams

In India, there are "A" players and "B" players, mostly, who make up the bulk of a Software Development company. Of course there are "C" players but there should be a good reason for them to exist and in small numbers so we exclude them here. And then there are an equally small number of "AB" players.

"B" players make up the vast majority of Devs. Its like the middle-class of India. Most of these are people who dabble in almost every technology in the project portfolio but are not really a master of any. Example, a .NET web developer (B) would perhaps be a good all-rounder in client side technologies, C# based backend tech stack, decent DBMS programmer etc but not really stand-out at any one of these.

The "A" players are the ones who are hard-core technologists. The lot who can have an intellectual orgasm at the mere prospect of deciphering / delivering a very complicated system. The people who can stare at the same 5 lines of code for a thousand minutes and still find an optimization ; or those who can hold a program in their head for days on end and have the solution etched in mind before it becomes code. No QA/QC required.

There are very few "AB" players who overlap between being very good at something - say, algorithms or overall concepts of the system etc, and are also "good" at the rest of it. Their numbers are about the same as the "C"

Looking at what each of these bring to the table :

  • The "A" players bring technical expertise - they are specialists and most of the time focused only on coding, refactoring, efficiency et al. These people are the real "DEVELOPERS". They push the limits, push the framework, break code and rebuild it. This is the sharpened edge of the team. These are they guys who are always bugging the support team of some latest framework on the market. They raise the most tickets, the most complicated tickets and for the rest of the team, they appear to be working at an unimaginable level of coding.
If a product development manager / lead wants a cutting edge feature, he would be looking at the "A"s first. Say you have a legacy spaghetti bowl which needs to talk to the greatest and latest ERP modules of a Co's product , with the usual improvements in speed, reliability etc. - this is where you would come to.

  • The "B" players are more like "coders" or "programmers" than "developers" - the difference being that, A's push the limits and explore the boundaries of the stack while B's are tasked to concentrate on known areas and often come up with "safe" solutions. Unspectacular yet solid. In this sense, the B's all put together are nothing but a relatively stable "processing program". They take-in a lot of requirements from their leads,designers and turn out 100's of lines of code - not the best or the most efficient, but something that works most of the time. This is the mundane part of the team.
If you had to develop 15 modules for an ERP with dedicated features/screens for each ; dependency on each other and well defined business rules, you would push it to the "B"s and expect an almost error-free working prototype in a time-bound manner.

  • The "AB" players are an interesting lot. They are few in number and sometimes very "malleable" / "scalable" - they are mostly clear B+ people who can upstage an A from time to time at something very particular. Its like the LINQ-to-SQL expert in your front-end team who can write more efficient queries than an A for certain parts of the program ; and is still a better B than all the others.
The "AB"s are floaters. Almost all of the A's and the B's tend to work within well defined boundaries - their area's of expertise. But "AB"s wander around. At worst they are B players but from time to time they scale up and contribute to spikes in the development.

But there is another important facet of "AB"'s and "B"s which needs to be explored - "Non-technical Skills".

"Your brain is not functioning correctly ... "

"a2"a2?a2"a3a2" BRAIN a2,a2dega2?a2-a23/4a2a2? a2a3a22a2, a2(r)a23/4a2!a3a2$?a2?a22a3a22! "

Like he had a eureka moment, this is what my dad told me a few min back.

My dad bought me my first computer when I was in 9th STD. Specs as below -

  • Pentium II 233 MHz
  • 64MB RAM courtesy Hyundai Hynix
  • 2GB Seagate hard-disk at less than 4500RPM
  • 11" or maybe 12" bulbulous CRT monitor
  • A CD-ROM drive rated at 32X
  • PS/2 connectors for mouse and keyboard
  • The already very nearly redundant floppy drive - 3.5"
  • One USB port (!)
Seems pedestrian by todays standards but this was a pretty good "rig" back then - almost 14 or 15 years back .

To buy this PC my dad and myself went around town for 6-8 months. You see the personal computer was still a luxury in those days and my dad is not the kind to invest his money in "needless luxury". Considering that, 8 months is actually not a very long time to have changed his position ;)

The story of shopping the first computer is for another day.

Back to 1999 - one fine day our brand new PII 233 (that was how I used to call it ever since I got the specs) landed up - complete with a UPS from "Genesis" worth 20min of backup ( it never, ever lasted more than 5 min - it was big heavy and fugly) ; and a very good HP Deskjet colour printer.

2 months later, Intel launched the PIII and the processor race had started in earnest. Oh and my PC was obsolete already....

In the 14 years since I got this computer, the most frequent source of conflict between father and son is THE computer :) Credit to my dad, he took to the computer like a duck to water but he is by no means an expert on how it works - rather he is good at working with it.

And so every once in a while the computer would break-down for whatever reason - hardware , software , electrical and we would have a big argument as to why it broke down, what could have been done to prevent it, what I didn't do to prevent it and so on.

I have come to understand that being proficient with any technology at home is more of a bane than a boon. Don't agree ? Read on-

  • You are the de-facto "operator" of the said device whenever the family wants to use the device.
  • You are singularly responsible for its operation and maintenance
  • You should be "available on hand" to "operate" the device "whenever the family needs it " ; in other words, because you are the expert, you should be like customer support 24/7
  • If it WORKS FINE, you are not responsible but -
  • If ANYTHING goes wrong with the device, its ALWAYS your fault.
  • ....and the list goes on....

And so with this PC, I was always and I still am the person responsible for everything wrong about it :D I can grin about it now, but a few years ago it wasn't like that !

3 weeks back, the HDD on the PC packed up. I had given up on maintaining this PC almost a year back - its running XP Home edition and is infested with virus like scavengers feasting on a rotten cadaver. So it wouldn't boot up and the BIOS doesn't detect the master drive. When I told so to my dad he was disgusted. This coming on the back of a few weeks where the boot-up was troublesome - BIOS failures , RESETs etc

Apparently he must have tried to switch it on today and it works (!) - which is why he had the Eureka moment today evening and told me what I have written as the title of this post.


Very interesting article -

Going by the tone of the parties involved, it looks like Tit for Tat.

Corruption is commonplace in all institutions in society today. More so in the individuals holding power as the office-bearers / staff of such institutions.

While I feel a tinge of satisfaction in the BMTF chief and his loyalists taking on the apparently "more corrupt" corporators and their ilk - especially those in the BBMP, I really do fear of a strong backlash from the BBMP again.

Remember the last time the BBMP staff were on strike, they raised a big stink - literally.

It would be nice if all such corrupt entities were taken to task without causing inconvenience to the common man.

Sharpening Motorola's Focus

This is an excellent article that touches upon the key points of the Motorola Mobility business.

Remember, Google bought this out recently and hasn't seen any great success with it so far.

Now, it seems, there will be an effort to cut the losses, sharpen the focus and put out "fewer" and more "focused" products on the market.

This echo's the strategy of fierce rival Apple. In a recently conducted interview, the legendary designer - Jonathan Ive, said that they concentrate on making a few really great products and that they often say no to a lot of things that they are otherwise capable of manufacturing.

This is the kind of luxury that BIG companies like Apple, Google and perhaps even Samsung can afford - and while Samsung's strategy is perhaps not under review given its superb sales of the Galaxy premium range, its the right time for Google to re-asses its strategy.

Slaughtered Down Under

The batsmen looked mentally scarred for most of the time. They looked tentative - every ball they faced, you felt something was going to happen. There was hesitation,trepidation. In each and every game, except perhaps in the first innings of the first test.

People talk a lot of stuff about Dhoni being a recluse, unresponsive to suggestions - yeah right, like they sat in the team meetings and were part of the squad themselves. Its the usual speculation that the media and so called "Cricket Experts" talk about when the team is in dire straits.

I think Dhoni's nonchalant behaviour is his strength and weakness. Appearing to be nonplussed about anything in the game was something that everybody hailed as he led the team to numerous wins in all forms of the game not so long ago. Now the same trait is being regarded as hisAchillesheels.

The same with Sehwag. He never had any footwork. He was always a hand-eye co-ordination player. It hurt him, it helped him, it made him and it might break him. But thats who he is - its nothing new - people talk about his game as "shoddy", "lacking responsibility" etc today - but I actually think he was honestly trying to curb his instincts and play the unnatural game.

Thats the hard part for these people - they are all out of their natural zone of comfort and they failed to adapt - for N no of reasons. Why ? Is it age ? Could be. Dravid getting bowled 9 times or so might mean he is slow or that he has lost his technique a bit. Technique and temperament can be moulded, but age ?

On the topic of age - Neither do Dravid nor Tendulkar look like they are physically out of it for me. These two can easily carry on for another 2-3 years, form and body permitting. The one who looks really out of shape is VVS. He is the one who is most lethargic on the field and his forte - heavy scoring ability overseas- especially against Australia, has seemingly deserted him. He will ofc do his analysis but with Kohli arriving on the scene I think the transition should start with VVS bowing out. Hard on the man but the time is right.

Zaheer Khan looked like the only bowler who could take wickets. I dont know why they didn't take Varun Aaron. They played Vinay Kumar who was treated like a spinner by the Aussies and the team has probably destroyed his yet to take off international career. That was the blunder of the tour. Destroying a fledgling career.

Zaheer was immature with the bat. Very irresponsible. The worst shot of the tour was the one he played in the last test ...Kohli waiting to get a ton and the senior guy flashes at a ball. Fucking unbelievable. For that he deserves a rap. For Sure. Zaheer used to bat well enough for a tail ender- these days he is worse than one.

And Zaheer knew he didn't have support at the other end - it showed in his sometimes inconsistent bowling - I guess he wasn't too happy at having to do all the work himself. He would get one break through or a couple more and then the workload and expectations wouldnt stop there. He would have to come back again and again to try and stop the juggernaut.

Its hard to find positives. Tendulkar looked so circumspect. It looked he was unsure in his mind. I think he needs to play a bit more - maybe he should stop idealizing the 100th hundred and just get it out by smashing some minions. He looks like a player weighed down by something playing on his mind.

Kohli deserves his place in the team now. After trying and failing with Raina,Yuvraj etc, I think Kohli is the first of the new lot who can be groomed. He is a great cricketer - arrogant but you need that fire in you at this level.

R.Ashwin tried to behave like the pro - like the man who knew it all - it was on good display in his dumb witted press conferences. He also has the tendency to tweet his opinions I believe. He looks like the guy who likes to be in the spotlight a bit. He should probably learn to keep his mouth shut and do the job on the field. But the positive thing is his batting - he should learn to resist the pull and he is going to be a good batsman. He has probably already ended Harbhajan's career which is great news for me - I for one never believed in Harbhajan's action and I never really thought he was an asset though he has deservedly won games for india by getting under the skin of the opposition or with the bat.

Looks like the Indian team need a break. Yes. They really ought to stop playing cricket for a while. The skillsets are not there to the levels before. They need some time off and recoup. But there is no time for that - with the T20 and ODI series coming up I think a lot of them will be maxxed out by the time they are back home.

I think the biggest entity to be blamed is the BCCI. In their ivory towers , these people have lost touch with reality. There needs to be some connect between the players and the BCCI . Right now they play as much cricket as the body allows - there is no consideration for the mental fatigue.

Just Ride ...

A few weeks back, my Yezdi mechanic told me -

"Saar, don't feel bad about what I am about to say , but there is no such thing as perfection in our Yezdi bikes - even the factory bikes had a long list of items to crib about ... you are chasing perfection which never existed - just ride it Saar... "

Of course I know - I mean , of all peopleIknow-especially about theYezdi...but still it set me wondering - when was the last time I "just rode it " -- on any bike ?

Can't recall it in recent times on any bike - there's always something to crib about - wonder what it takes to "Just Ride..." ?

Mobile Office Mail

Is access to information anytime, anywhere always a good thing ? I don't think so. Specifically, I am talking about email. More specifically, office mail.

There was a time when having instant email access on your phone was the domain of the "Blackberry" elite. Post the 3G revolution almost anyone can have email access on their phones. And that is probably not so good.

While working on a project in which there is a big time difference between our time and the clients location, the need to be able to respond immediately was having very high value. Though we had worked out that we can only extend our working hours a little bit to ensure that there is overlap between our working hours, I wanted to go the extra mile for the client. And so I went in for a 3G plan that allowed me to respond to the client via mobile mail - ALL the time.

Yes, for the first few months, I was so happy that I can respond to all the official mail in spite of not being in the office. It gave me my team the ability work without my physical presence as long as they got the information from me via email. There is no need to wait for me to be back in office. Response times are vastly imprived. I could send them notes,documents,images so on all without having to visit the office.When I am on vacation and there is a crisis, I can communicate in real time and solve issues without being there. Great!

But as time went by, I noticed that I was always checking if I had office mail on my mobile. And on many occasions there would be no mails and I would start getting worried. Maybe my inbox was full. Maybe there is a connection error. I would switch off/on the 3G network, or send a test mail to myself to ensure my mobile office mailbox was in working order. Sure enough it was ok most of the time. But the addiction to checking the inbox remained - it became a headache actually. I was not comfortable if I saw an empty mailbox for a long time. What if we have a crisis, what if I need to back to the office ... maybe there is some bad news. Constant worry.

Then there is the other kind of worry - so we have worked our backsides off for the last 2 months stretching ourselves to 12 hour days on weekdays and working 8 hours a day over weekends on some occasions - under such conditions the last thing you want to see is an office mail when you go back home detailing some other stupid problem that arose AFTER you left the office. It can be quite deflating. It just steals your peace of mind since you are always flooded with information and there is no time to rest.

I figured that the solution to this second kind of worry was to not to open the mailbox at all when I decide to take some time off or logout of work. But then there was the third kind of worry - how long can I keep away from the problems ? Not checking my mailbox doesn't mean there aren't any mails and hence there are probably some problems in waiting. I am only delaying attending to them and probably that is not the right thing to do. So then I am still worried about what mails I might see when I open the mailbox !

The only solution is to stop receiving office mail on mobiles and go back to the good old days' idea that once you log out of office you are available only at the start of business hours on the next working day. Yes. I think that should be the right way to do it. Otherwise you can never have piece of mind. Leave the team an "emergency only" number and get away from it all !

Classic Adventure

This wednesday could have turned out to be a real adventure ...

I had ridden down to Vijayanagar on my Yezdi Classic to meet a friend and then proceeded towards Yeshwanthpur to get it fixed by a mechanic. As usual I had left my wallet in my office backpack - like most techie people I carry a bag to office and all my stuff is in the bag including the wallet - lest a sudden downpour causes some serious damage ;)

Having realised this, I checked with my friend to see if he was carrying some cash - and he wasn't either. Since the mechanic is a very good acquaintance not paying him on this visit wouldn't be a problem but its a bit embarrassing....

Picking our way through the ridiculous traffic, we landed up at the mechanics place - stomach growling over the roar of the half muffled Yezdi. Now that is a problem. We didn't have any cash to eat anything ! Being a regular to the area, my friend took me to a small eatery and had 2 "Khali Dosa"'s per head on credit basis (!) .... which satisfied our hunger pangs for now.

By then the mechanic had opened up the erratic front end of my bike and was down to some serious business. It was already past 9 PM and then our good friends at BESCOM decided it was time for some load shedding. Lights out. Work halted. We had no option but to while away our time chatting about all things mechanical and Yezdi. Finally, the power was restored at 11PM and the good mechanic finished up on the front end in a jiffy.

By then we had also noticed that there was hardly enough fuel in the bike to get back home ! Here we are at 11.30PM in the night having to to ride back at least 20km with almost no fuel in the bike and no cash in hand. Once again we got out of trouble since the mechanic gave us 50 bucks for fuel (!!!)...what next ? Find a bunk !

At 11.45 PM there was hardly any petrol bunk still open for business and we seriously dreaded getting stranded somewhere. If that happened it would have been a right royal EffUp. So we started looking out for ANY open pump - no luck and soon enough the bike started sputtering . Oh god ...what a predicament !

To add to the excitement, my friend wasn't wearing a helmet and we went past many cops - one of them did stop us but didn't fine us for not wearing the helmet - he was only checking for DUI and more interested in a guy who was driving with a "pickup girl" in his Innova.

All said and done, with probably just 100 ml of fuel in the tank, we landed up at the Sheshadripuram Circle petrol bunk and refuelled for the grand total of Rs 50 - forty five for fuel and 5 rupees for 20ml of shit 2T oil.

I was just wondering, in case the cops had fined us for not wearing a helmet - what would we do ? Who would believe our story that, two working guys, rode all the way to Vijayanagar with no cash or wallet in hand, ate dosa's on credit basis, borrowed 50 bucks from a mechanic who also fixed the bike, and then were trying to find a petrol bunk to get refuelled ? Too tall a story to believe .....

Anna-giri and the youth

So I wasn't at "Freedom Park", neither did I take part in any of the long marches or demonstrations during Anna's fast - but that doesn't mean I don't support the cause. Or the movement. I have nothing against the way in which the protest was carried out - in fact I quite like it that Team Anna as it is known gave the GoI a real kick in the guts .... but I do have one gripe....

Thousands thronged the streets, took part in the demonstrations and posted great slogans on Facebook, Twitter etc. The shameful thing was to see so many of the youth go there just to be part of the "occasion". Occasion my arse. You should be there to lend a voice, to show your support and be sure of your convictions.

Shame on people who called on the youth to be part of a historic "occasion". Shame on all those techies who bunked office and went over to Freedom Park so that they can pose with their buddies for photos to be shared on FB later - a way to claim more popularity. In short - so many people used the movement to milk some PR and while you obviously expect it from the Neta's, Babu's and the Media, it was pathetic to see some of the youth trying to score some brownie points on social networks through these antics. FU guys.

Now, I feel rather good about myself not being there.

Clearing the cob-webs

The last one week has been very hectic. Lot of running around, lot of work, lot of tension ... very little downtime !

The only relaxation I got was by spending a day with the bikes. Well at least I got some downtime - coz I spent the whole day cleaning and lubing the machines and ended up pretty tired. So much for relaxation.

But its been a while - since I cleaned any of these beauties.A couple of them are literally covered in cob-webs in my garage !

Started off with the oldest of the lot - the 81 Roadking and spent a good amount of time getting off the rust and muck from the underbelly. She did startup on the third kick (been in cold storage for over a month) but not before a few violent kickbacks. Recently the point-set was changed, might be that the tune is not in sync. More work this week then !

Next was the 82 Classic. Ah - the bike for which I broke my own promise not to buy another Yezdi. I haven't been riding her at all since she has developed a terrible grinding noise coming from the engine and its no fun to ride like that. Lubing and dusting done, took her for a spin - the front suspension is jammed. Hard. Tight. Zero movement. And another bike in a wrong state of tune. More kickbacks. Sigh - this one needs an open heart surgery some time soon :(

Looking around I realised that I hadn't run my friend Vasu's Roadking for about 10 days. Took out this bike which I like to call the "Clubman". It kind of looks short,stubby and very much reminds me of a neanderthal caveman with a clubin his hand. Its got an awesome beat to it - which is what enchants me.

No air and low fuel. Sigh - more work. Took out the foot pump and had a hard time filling up the tyres with air. Refuelled from one of the other yezdi's and took it out for a longish run. Music to my years. It runs on a Jikov which needs some tuning as well but the real problem is the clutch setup - needs to be opened up sometime next month.

It was already mid-day now and I still was only half way though. Had a look at the ZMR - low fuel, engine oil change pending and bike really needs a wash. Fork nut needs to be tightened up and so on .I passed it up. Just not having the enthusiasm to do it now. Maybe for another weekend.

That left the R15 and the 96 Roadking. Chose to do a complete check on the latter - decided to get it refuelled (again!) with Shell and went there with half a litre of 4T oil. After waiting in the Q the asshole told me that he didn't have 2T oil. Miffed. Refuelled using only 4T oil - came home, drained half that fuel into another Yezdi ( the joy of having bikes with a big appetite ! ) - ran out to Shell again, this time with my own 2T oil.

Clean the pipes - done.
Clean the rims - done.
Lube the bike - done.

Light diesel coating for underbelly - done.

I got a pair of mufflers fit into this bike recently, and boy, doesn't it transform the bike ! The bike has run about 1600 km without mufflers ever since its enginer was rebored. It was terribly loud. Too loud. Vulgar. And to be frank - its all show and no go. Putting the mufflers back has made it SO smoooth and SO much quieter. I am really enjoying this feel now- though there is no technical explanation for it entirely, the RK with a good pair of mufflers feels like it just got a catcon exhaust (ala RX135). Pulls neat and linearly. Another 1600km to go and then lets see how this baby can run !

Got rid of the OE design round indicators and stalks and put the Shogun ones (spare set) and the bike looks really neat now. A few minor things are still missing on the bike - the rubber cover over the nipples opening for the fork is something I haven't found in a long time.

Finally the R15. I dont remember the last time I rode this bike. After the last service, it has run maybe just 200km. And I got a call from Yamaha folks for the next service :| I am pretty sure they are interested more in the Rs 400 odd they charge for lubing+engine oil change rather than anything else. Might drop it off on Tue but wanted to check it out anyway. Again - no air, another round of puffing and huffing on the foot pump. checked engine oil level - Shell 10W40 it is - top it up, idle for a few min, then took a small ride. Not impressed. Somehow this bike has lost its charm on me. Feels odd to handle- not sharp like before, and the engine feels too noisy. Its hardly run 4000Km. Got a tank guard on , didn't bother to clean the bike or lube the chain - must do before next ride. Kind of a damp squib to end the day.

It had been quite a while since I spent so much time on my bikes - the whole day almost. It meant I was away from office mails, calls and tasks bugging me on usual weekdays and weekends. That was a welcome change. Because come monday, the routine will start again. Its been a long week and quite tiring - need some good sleep tonight to see out the next week !

Michael Schumacher 2011

Most of the people have been questioning Michael's decision to return to racing. After a very poor season in 2010, this year was supposed to be make or break. I quite agreed with this back then, and I agree with it now. The only change is that, Michael might have reached the tipping point for his decision - to continue or not beyond this year. And I think he will continue.

What happened last year was a combination of things - a 40plus top racer coming back into a highly competitive field, in a sub par car, with a highly motivated and extremely fast team-mate, new rules, new everything and most importantly not enough testing. Given all that, Michael was not too bad, but you ought to wonder why risk his rep and endure this nonsense ?

What has happened this year is that Michael has found incremental steps, race by race, session by session to a level where you expect him to be qualifying right behind Nico Rosberg. Thats not bad at all because Nico has been very good in qualifying - with the tyres and one lap pace. Michael is almost matching him here and has of late been able to beat the young wunderkid. Thats good. Because, Michael is the ultimate "race" driver and at this age, with tyres not yet being 100% to his liking, he might not be pulling fast ones every time in qualy. But he is getting better at qualy - thats for sure.

The races have been very good. Canada was excellent. Spa was excellent and the last one @ Monza was perhaps the best. It was, as one of the of head-honcho's of Mercedes said, "purest" racing. Schumacher has lost none of his racing instinct and it was good to see him not averse to giving our "hot-headed , genX champion" Lews Hamilton a thorough schooling for 20 odd laps.

There was criticism that he was weaving - c'mon people ! Michael has always been driving on the edge and I dont think he ever did anything that warranted censure. His famous "chops" are not on show...just yet. When they come out, I am sure he will be rapped on the knuckles but lets enjoy the racing and stop bitching. People like Webber (who just dropped the ball and the championship at Monza) should stop whining.

Ultimately, the story of Schumacher's return might well depend on the last few races this year. You can sense that he is getting to grips with the system - the tyres,the car, the rules, the pace of things - everything. And I would be happy to see him beat Rosberg a few more times.


a2,a23/4a2dega3.. a2"a3a2ua3 a2a2 a2a2|a2a3a2a3 a2dega3a2a2? a2$?a3a2dega2?a2,a2?a2!a2?a2a3a2a2?a2|a3a2deg ! a2a2 "change" a2(r)a23/4a2!a2?a2|a3a2dega3 a2$?a3a2a2!a23/4 "rough" a2a2a2?a2!a2?a2!a3a2$?a3a2$?a3 !!

(Sir, you have given it a taste of the stuff - if you change now, it will become very rough).

Ahem. That sounds like somebody talking about a meat eating creature - once it has tasted blood it wants more of the same !

Yet, this is exactly what one of my Yezdi's mechanics was saying - that having run it with one type of engine oil for a while, if I change over to a different type, it would make my engine rough. Technically - he was right considering the differences in the oil that I planned to use, but the way he said it was very funny - he made it sound like it was a creature which develops a taste for its prey !

"a2dega3a2a2? " indeed !

"Why are you obsessed with motorbikes ??"

Probably heard this a million times. A million million times.

Friends, family, relatives.... everybody - they all have the same question :

"Why are you obsessed with motorbikes ??"

Its not just the question itself, but the way it is asked - as if you are doing something crazy, which rankles me sometimes.

Motorcycling is much less about logic and reason as it is about spirit and freedom. Unless you feel it for yourself, its not worth explaining. If I tried, it would fly in the face of the so-called "accepted logic".

To quote an example, a long time ago when I was a fan of the CI engined bullet, I happened to be checking out some second-hand bulls for a friend and we chanced on a pretty good bike. A bit pricey but not too bad. As our negotiations with the gentleman continued, he came across as a person who was a genuine bullet buff. The way he spoke of the bike, its characteristics, his riding style, etc clearly he loved the bike. The most revealing thing though was this comment he made "Sir, my office is 38km away. I work for about 10 hours a day. After a long hard-days work, hopping on the bike and thumping my way back home is actually a big stress buster - that is what this bike is for me - it relieves me and gives me freedom - you feel good while riding it".

As I said, people will start saying, he was just talking up his bike, that nobody who is actually stressed out can hop onto a bike and feel refreshed. Not to say that riding a bike has therapeutic effects, but point is that, real bikers love their machines because it gives them a sense of freedom and joy which is not always explained with logic or reason.

Of course, if your bike was a piece of shit, and would choke and stop after every 1km - worse if it wouldn't start easily at all, there is probably not much joy to talk about. But real bikers are romantics and a strange breed. Whether its their blinding love for the machine or not, in these faults and painful experiences, they find admiration for the machine. Its like a flawed beauty to them. And they wont give up on it just yet. Because all it takes is one good ride on the machine to feel good again.

People laugh it off and again logic doesn't hold ground entirely, but its true that each bike even of the same type has a nature / characteristics of its own. This is especially true for 2 stroke bikes and bullets which are tweak able and can be tinkered with till no end. Over a period of time you know very well if the bike is going to run well today or not. You make out from the way it starts to life, the way the engine runs, if things are good or not. While that statement might mean to say that a bike changes characteristics on a daily basis - its not true. What I mean to say is that generally speaking, after some time, you will get to know the machine well enough to be able to "feel" it rather than treat is as some piece of mechanical junk. It takes time of course but you will get there - and then the fun starts.

There is so much more to motorcycling than just "ride". The "ride" is a key component of owning a motorbike but to think that, by buying a swanky new sports bike with a hefty price tag, you become a biker is entirely wrong. There are no requirements or achievements or grades to be fulfilled before you can call yourself a biker. At the same time, just riding the latest and greatest is not the definition of a true biker.

Sure, one call always brag to be a "biker". If you ask me, its not about having all the best and greatest bikes that make you a biker. Bikers share some common attributes - usually, these people have had more than their fair share of mess-ups with their bikes. They would have lost a lot of money,spares and time on things which would seem mundane,ordinary or even downright crazy to other people. They would scour the city for ages to find that one small part which gives them the feeling of completeness. They probably have their quirks about fuels and oils. They spend a considerable amount of their free time with their bikes. A spin-off of that is that they probably have their family and friends complaining about their "obsession" and not spending enough time on other things/people. So on and so forth. So what does it boil down to ? How do you say somebody is a biker at heart ?

Maybe you cannot. Maybe you shouldn't. Suffice to say that somewhere along this journey, the so called "biker" will have a flash point where you realise how much you have put into this - the time,effort,sweat,tears,blood (believe me you can cut yourself bad when you try to be a grease monkey at home ) and money that has gone into making this mechanical contraption an object of pleasure. So much passion, so much ambition. The physical convergence of all this is this machine standing in your garage -and you just watch it and think about these - and then you understand why you are obsessed with your motorbike.

That is the day, your spirit roams free and you feel freedom has a new meaning. Don't ask me why I am obsessed with my motorbikes - because I can't explain it to you.

FIA clamps down on blown diffusers

The FIA has rightly decided to ban this nonsense. For those of who watched the Monaco Grand Prix 2011 on ESPN/STAR in India, you would have heard Steve Slater and Gary Anderson talk about how the cars sound so different with the blown diffuser bullshit.

I hate it. All motosport buffs will tell you that one of the things that appeals to them a lot is the pure bliss of hearing a high performance machine on full chat. Pure - unadulterated mechanical sound. None of those - fart like cutouts and chatter from Traction control, off throttle blown diffusers etc.

Also, one wonders what were the safety implications of having the engine put out gases even when the driver was off throttle ? Whatever it was, I am really happy that as early as by the British Grand Prix 2011- F1 will no longer have off throttle blown diffusers and cars will start to sound like they should. Hopefully !

And for those of you who want to sample what a proper F1 engine should sound like, here is the once mighty Illmor Mercedes Benz F1 engine :

2011 Grand Prix du Canada - Pre-race thoughts

Its fair to say that the Canadian Grand Prix is a popular event amongst everybody in the F1 fraternity. Another of those mid-season fly-away races, it has given many exciting races till date.

However, its easy to forget that not so long ago the Canadian Grand Prix actually faced the axe and a lot of negotiations happened behind the scenes to get it back on the calendar as a firm entry.

Fast-forward today and you see the media hyping this as one of the most exciting races of the year. True, it has the potential to be a real hum dinger but then, what is it about the track that it has seen such adulation yet repulsion at times ?

The track itself is not used all through the year and can be quite dusty and dirty at the start of the weekend. It is also very bumpy at many places and the kerbs very difficult to ride over. But most important of all is the fact that there are no high speed corners and most of them are jump-hop-clatter chicanes between shortish and straightish stretches.

Then there are two long straights - the back straight from the hairpin into the last corner and the main straight down the start finish line. In terms of downforce, you are probably looking at a low drag low downforce spec for a dry race. Most of the slow speed chicanes exit into straightish sections which need excellent traction out of the corners - mechanical grip is high priority here.

What all this means is that a car tends to eat up its tyres - even faster if you dont have a good mechanical setup - as the downforce is already absent. And that brings us nicely to the biggest determining factor in a dry race - TYRES.

In the DRS-KERS-SLICKS era, managing tyres has been the biggest issue and since Montreal is punishing on tyres - especially the rears, this will be a race where the team that can best spread its pace over least wear will have an advantage.

Not so long ago, in fact since 2001, we have seen that overtaking at Montreal was possible but not any easier than at the other tracks. Who doesn't remember the repeated abortive attempts of Ralf Schumacher (BMW-Williams F1) on Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) in the 2001 race. Ralf had better tyres (Michelin) and an immensely powerful BMW engine which was clearly pushing that Williams a lot quicker on the back straight than the Ferrari. Blame Ralf, but with DRS/KERS, he would have made a pass within a couple of attempts. As it turned out, he did pass Michael but only in the pitstop poker.

And that is my point about tracks like Montreal - DRS/KERS/SLICKS have changed racing to an extent where previously difficult tracks have now become great shows for overtaking. F1 has for too long been a sport where overtaking was a rarity. DKS (DRS+KERS+SLICKS) has changed it - for the better.

In qualifying, Vettel obviously squeezed his RBR in T1 and T2, and despite not having the grunt of the other engines, his Renault powered RBR slithered down the straight without losing time and put him in P1. We also know that RBR have not had the same pace in the race as in Qualy so given the small gap between RBR and the rest in qualy we can expect a much closer race between Vettel and his chasing parties.

Ferrari probably dont have the best aero but they have a solid engine and a great driver in Alonso - so we can expect the Spaniard to hustle Vettel if the car allows him to. Massa pulled a good one and he might yet be a factor in the race and is like a wild card - if Alonso trips up he will be there to seize it.

The question mark is on Webber - he had KERS issues, he didn't run in FP3 and a little more fuel than needed in qualy. Yet he was only .4sec down on Vettel in qualy. Great lap ! But can he get a good start and maintain his position or even better it ?

Hamilton and Button bitched about their McLarens not being quick enough - maybe its true, but what about the admission by Martin Whitmarsh that they are running a wet weather setup ? That explains the tall gearing and slow speeds down the straight.

If there was anybody else who could spice up the show at the front, it would be the two Mercedes drivers and the two Renault drivers. We could see an epic scrap between McLaren,Renault and Mercedes. Mercedes have been quick - including Michael , here and the Renaults are not too far behind. If McLaren dont show pace in the race, they will have a hard battle on hand against these teams.

I think, the weather is not much of a factor for Alonso or Vettel. How much it helps the McLarens is the question mark. both drivers are good wet weather racers so it depends on whether their gamble really pays off.

If I were a betting man, I would place a lot of money on Alonso !

Visual Studio 2010 - very slow to save projects : a fix to end this problem

"Visual Studio 2010 is a PIG".

I didn't say that - its probably one of the most frequently heard remarks about VS 2010 on the web. I dont agree with that coz I haven't had any lag issues with VS2010 - until last week.

I have been using VS2010 for like about 9 months now and this is the first time that I hit this problem. I don't know why it hadn'thappenedto me in the past but in the last week has been a real torture.

Whenever I save a project in VS2010 - it was taking like 15-30 seconds to save the solution. In the mean time I would not be able to click on any other tab/file on VS of course - doing so would give me the annoying Windows7 indicator that the system is busy and the background on VS would become opaque - begging me to wait before it is ready.

Initially I thought it might be related to some CDN links or script references in the head section of the ASP files but then I saw that even for a small change in markup - like changing the text on a button and then saving, the result was the same ridiculous amount of delay.

Today was the last straw. I spent a good 30min investigating this issue and finally some search on the net threw up this invaluable link :

Fixing VS2010 slow save problem

Specifically - "Clear out the project MRU list" is the one that has been reported widely to improve performance - same here. It did the trick for me !

Read me.

Solving ASP.NET "Invalid postback or callback argument. Event validation is enabled ..." Error

The "Invalid postback or callback argument. Event validation is enabled ..." Error can crop up in many different situations in an ASP.NET application. I was having this issue whenever I clicked on the "Previous" - "Next" buttons for pagination in a telerik Radgrid. After some R&D on the net, I tried to add a RadAjaxManager with the following settings, and voila ! it works !

Here is the crucial part to be added to the page :

<telerik:RadAjaxManager ID="RadAjaxManager1" runat="server">
<telerik:AjaxSetting AjaxControlID="radGrid1">
<telerik:AjaxUpdatedControl ControlID="radGrid1" />

And Here is the full code :

<form id="form1" runat="server">
<telerik:RadScriptManager ID="RadScriptManager1" runat="server">
<telerik:RadAjaxManager ID="RadAjaxManager1" runat="server">
<telerik:AjaxSetting AjaxControlID="radGrid1">
<telerik:AjaxUpdatedControl ControlID="radGrid1" />
<telerik:RadGrid ID="radGrid1" runat="server" AutoGenerateColumns="false" Skin="Web20"
AllowPaging="true" AllowSorting="true">
<MasterTableView AllowPaging="true" AllowSorting="true" ShowHeadersWhenNoRecords="true">
<telerik:GridTemplateColumn UniqueName="ckboxSelect" >
<asp:CheckBox ID="ckBoxSelect" runat="server" Visible="true" onclick="checkAll(this);" />

<asp:CheckBox ID="ckBoxItemSelect" runat="server" />
<asp:Label ID="lblPartky" runat="server" Visible="false" Text='<%#Eval("partky") %>'>asp:Label>
<telerik:GridBoundColumn DataField="col2">
<telerik:GridBoundColumn DataField="col3">
<telerik:GridBoundColumn DataField="col4">
<telerik:RadCodeBlock ID="radCodeBlock1" runat="server">
<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
function checkAll(obj) {




using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Web;
using System.Web.UI;
using System.Web.UI.WebControls;
using Telerik.Web.UI;
using System.Data;

namespace RadGridClientSelectColumns
public partial class _Default : System.Web.UI.Page
protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
if (!Page.IsPostBack)
DataTable dtSourceTable = new DataTable();

for (int i = 0; i < 100; i++)
DataRow dtNewrow = dtSourceTable.NewRow();
dtNewrow["partky"] = i.ToString();
dtNewrow["col2"] = i.ToString() + dtSourceTable.Columns.IndexOf("col2").ToString();
dtNewrow["col3"] = i.ToString() + dtSourceTable.Columns.IndexOf("col3").ToString();
dtNewrow["col4"] = i.ToString() + dtSourceTable.Columns.IndexOf("col4").ToString();

Session["Source"] = dtSourceTable;
radGrid1.DataSource = dtSourceTable;

DataTable dtNewsource = (DataTable)Session["Source"];
radGrid1.DataSource = dtNewsource;


Elation and disillusion. The elusive road trip...

The last major road trip had been a very ill prepared quick ride to Mangalore on the KZMA-R. That was almost a year back. And that was on the Karizma - probably the most reliable bike in the country. Hence the lack of preparations and checks didn't leave me stranded in the middle of nowhere.

It has been such a long time since, that I was elated to join the BJYMC riders for their Southern Raid 2010. As it turned out, it was a complete rout from my perspective. Riding on one of my Roadkings which I had bought recently ( with a so called "sealed engine - std bore" ) I hardly did any check overs leading up to the ride and paid a very hefty price for it.

We got as far as Krishnagiri and just as I climbed over a flyover my engine seized - pretty badly. Game over. After a couple of hours,200 ml of engine oil down the tank and lot of cursing later, I limped home on the same bike covering 130 odd km in 3 hours. Opened up the head and saw the piston - it had the name "Ambika" engraved on it :| Sheesh..what a total ripoff

Following this failed attempt to ride my yezdi on a long road trip, I signed up for the second outing with BJYMC - a weekend ride to Coorg. And it was another disaster. This time round the mistake I did was to use some cheap oil which was readily available near my place. The oil was full of muck ( as I found out later when I came back home ) - I hadn't checked and just poured it into the tank in a hurry on the day of the morning after refueling. Somewhere near hunsur, the bike packed up. The carburetor was already suspect and over that the jets were blocked and despite getting it cleaned repeatedly, it was of no use, the bike would stutter and stall every half a km. Disillusioned, I again limped home taking 4 hours or more to cover the 150km.

Thats two trips that have come a cropper on the yezdi's. Its still my intention to take one of the yezdi's on that elusive long road trip.....maybe I will take on of the two favourites next time.

1996 Roadking

1981 Yezdi Roadking

Destroying the legacy of a famous racing marque

This is just daft. It beats me as to why the Chapmans would want to side with a malaysian based Co. that is rumoured not to have the financial clout to implement their worldwide racing program - let alone achieve their goals in each of those series.

And they want to build their own engine too - Sigh. Utter crap. Bollocks.

Even a dumbwit who watched the 2010 F1 season would have told you that Lotus Racing deserve to carry on this rich heritage and not people behind "Lotus-Renault" as it would be called in the future. Brainless. Its an absolute shocker.

I just hope that Lotus Renault hit a trough next year and then we will see the resolve of Proton Car Co. in seeing it out. I am rooting for Tony Fernandes and Mike Gascoyne. I am pretty sure Dany Bahar is just another motormouth.

The mechanic's favourite line ..

" a2"a23/4a2"a3 a2a2|a3a2|a3a2"a22a3a22a2,a23/4a2dega3 ....a2-a23/4a2a3 a2ua2dega2? a2(r)a23/4a2!a3a2a3a2$?a3a2deg ??? ! "

Translates to :

"Why do you worry Sir, when I am here ??? !"

Sigh. Yes. That is why I worry - that you are here : last time around you said the same thing and I limped home with a seized engine....

The "Team-orders" saga....

The dust is settling on the shenanigans of the German GP. Ferrari have escaped any further punishment - and thats quite disappointing - shocking to some.

There are two problems here :

1. The amount of money involved - especially the sponsorship deals with blue chip companies - is so huge that a team cannot afford to have incidents like the one we saw between the two Red Bull drivers in Istanbul.

2. The amount of TV patronage is so huge and the money comes from TV audience ..and the sport - the teams and the sponsors can ill afford sustained low viewing figures.

And this is where the tangle is. The spectators at the tracks and the TV audience want to see a "race". Not a pre-ordained drama being played out in front of them. The teams and their sponsors want results and they will not be in a position to jeopardise a good result since there is too much at stake to lose.

Ban on team orders ? How can you ever ensure that there is no covert understanding within a team to implement team-orders anyway ? Nada. Not possible.

Keep team orders ? Yes - it makes things more transparent to the viewing public but that is not what we want to see ! We want to see a proper race. Further, imposing team orders is nothing but humiliating one driver in front of millions of people the world over.

Not a trivial matter this.

So whats the solution ? I am afraid, it appears there isn't a straightforward way to resolve this. As long as Formula 1 has existed, team-orders have existed. Teams will find a way to impose team-orders, covertly or overtly. Its a sad fact. We can only hope that such scenarios don't happen too often and dilute the real racing.

Dell XPS M1530 - Windows 7 drivers

Since Dell seems to consider the M1530 an obsolete model, the chances of getting a good set of working drivers for Win7 are rather slim - nah, make it zilch.

Some good soul has posted info at this link : :7 drivers for Dell XPS M1530: A lot of good drivers to be found there ! Thanks mate !

Why do certain hormonal contraceptives increase the risk of HIV?

In recent years, evidence has been building that injectable contraceptive depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo-Provera or DMPA) is associated with an increased risk of HIV infection. Now a study published in the September 1st issue of mBio, an online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, provides a biological explanation for the phenomenon. The findings will help women make more informed choices about birth control. “Before this study, there were all these controversial reports, some showing that DMPA increases the risk of HIV infection and others showing it doesn’t, and there was no biologic explanation for the differences between studies,” said lead author Raina Fichorova, PhD, MD, director of the Division of Genital Tract Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School, Boston. “This new study offers an explanation for the inconsistent studies, and it lies in the microbial communities of the reproductive tract.” The researchers analyzed cervical swabs and data from 823 women, between the ages of 18 and 35, who were HIV negative and enrolled in family planning clinics in Uganda and Zimbabwe. Roughly 200 women in this cohort became HIV infected. Women were divided into three groups, those who used DMPA, those who used estrogen-progesterone oral contraceptives, and those who used no hormonal contraceptives. Within each of these groups, the investigators compared results for women with a healthy vaginal environment (dominated by Lactobacillus-morphotypes and free of bacterial vaginosis) to women who had a disturbed vaginal microbioata or an infection from bacteria, fungi or parasites.

Stronger working memory and reduced sexual risk-taking in adolescents

Teenagers vary substantially in their ability to control impulses and regulate their behavior. Adolescents who have difficulty with impulse control may be more prone to risky sexual behavior, with serious consequences such as sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies. A new study has found that individual differences in working memory can predict both early sexual activity and unprotected sexual involvement during adolescence. Working memory - the system in the brain that allows individuals to draw on and use information to plan and make decisions - develops through childhood and adolescence. The new study found that adolescents with weaker working memory have more difficulty controlling their impulsive urges and considering the consequences of their behaviors. The study was carried out by researchers at the University of Oregon, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. It appears in the journal Child Development. Prior research in this field has linked impulsivity and lack of self-control to risky behaviors during adolescence. This study builds on earlier findings, focusing instead on cognitive abilities, such as the ability to concentrate on tasks and filter out distractions, which rely on working memory.

Lower heart rate variability turns women off

Chances are good that women with a low heart rate variability also suffer from sexual dysfunction. That’s the finding from a study led by Amelia Stanton of The University of Texas at Austin in the US published in Springer’s journal Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. Heart rate variability refers to differences in the length of time between consecutive heartbeats. It is one of the most sensitive and objective measures of the interplay between the sympathetic nervous system (which activates the so-called fight or flight response) and the parasympathetic nervous system (which regulates the body’s unconscious actions such as heart beat and breathing). Together, these form the autonomic nervous system. If this is in balance and functioning properly, a person will be able to adapt to physiological or environmental changes and stresses when needed. Heart rate variability, in particular, plays a role in female sexual arousal function. It is a marker of a healthy heart and the body’s ability to modulate blood pressure appropriately within various contexts. This is important because sexual arousal is largely a matter of the selective manipulation of blood pressure in the genitals. Heart rate variability also relates to the processing of emotional cues. In this context, low resting heart rate variability may reflect poor emotional health and vice versa.

Many older adults going online to discuss, learn about sex

Forget those ageist stereotypes that senior citizens have little interest in sex and are befuddled by technology. Many older adults are going online to dish about the joys of sex and swap advice about keeping their mojos working well into their twilight years, a new study found. “Many older people preserve both a high interest in sex and a high involvement in sexual activities,” said researcher Liza Berdychevsky, a professor of recreation, sport and tourism at the University of Illinois who researches sexual behavior and well-being. “The popularity of sex-related discussions in seniors’ online communities suggests that, in a reality of limited alternatives for open and direct sex-related communication, seniors are finding channels to satisfy their needs for information and support.” Berdychevsky and co-author Galit Nimrod, a faculty member at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, conducted an online ethnographic study - or netnography - in which they examined discussions of sexual topics in 14 online communities geared toward adults age 50 and older. Seven of the websites were based in the U.S., four in the U.K., two in Canada and one in Australia.

The first fraction of ejaculate is the most effective for conception

Sperm in the first fraction of ejaculate are more numerous, move more and present better quality DNA than those lagging behind. This is the conclusion of a study led by the Ginemed fertility clinic, which confirms that while the objective of the first fraction is to fertilise the egg, the second phase is so that no sperm from any other male has a chance to fertilise it. A study led by the Ginemed Assisted Human Reproduction Clinic analyses the advantages of using fractions of ejaculate separately in in-vitro fertilisation as a way to improve the sample of the semen. The researchers’ hypothesis was that, comparing the different fractions of semen in an ejaculation, the first would contain sperm with better seminal parameters and could be used as an effective method for selecting sperm prior to fertilisation.

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