Wednesday, October 26, 2011

eternal riders of pune

After a fresh experience of the roads in Pune lasting several days, I am ready to conclude that the average Puneite on the road (on foot, gripping the handle of a motorised two-wheeler or a bicycle, helming an autorickshaw, car, van, bus or truck) has three significant qualities: he or she is discourteous, he or she is selfish and he or she is suicidal. Despite this lethal combination of qualities, he or she seems eternal. untouchable by death. amar. imagine that. The font of eternal life must exist in the murky miasma of the traffic jams in Pune: how else does one explain the lack of significant fatalities on the roads when everyone (regardless of their size or the size of their mode of conveyance) is trying to squeeze into every available space of every size at any imaginable speed? That woman sliding between a bus and a jeep passed through without a scratch; that scooterist swung cleanly a breath away from the noggin of a large van; those two cars crissed and crossed by a motorcyclist without affecting his path or angle at all. Unbelievable.

Friday, October 21, 2011

you pay for the space: the annoying things are free

Cellphone screens in the dark. Think of fireflies with Asha Parekh-ian (or Nanda-esque) derrieres. They are annoying. Distracting. Especially when you are trying to watch the movie.

Cellphone ringtones. They are annoying. Distracting. Especially when you are trying to listen to the dialogue uttered by the characters in the movie that you have been trying to watch.

Inconsiderate. The people who paid for the seats they are sitting in and insist on continuing to use their cellphones to send text messages, receive and check text messages, make calls and receive calls without being courteous enough to switch their phones to silent mode. The cinema hall is just another place to hang out and presumably what transpires on the screen is akin to the unfortunate band that plays music while you dine in some faux star restaurant.

Except that the film and the band are not the same thing.

Could you please take your call outside?, I lean over and say to the girl sitting next to us, who, after a conversation louder than the booming sound of the film playing in the hall, has decided to talk on the phone,

It's an important call, she replies, failing to see why I should have a problem with this. I continue to be polite and inform her that the volume of her conversation is louder than the volume of the film (which is why I have a problem -- because I paid to listen to the film and not to her). Her reply is priceless: You could have said it in a more polite way (or words to that effect).

Is it time to take a leaf from Falling Down and go watch movies with a baseball bat in tow? Is that the only way to get such inconsiderate, discourteous (and seemingly clueless) people to behave? Why doesn't the management of the theatre/multiplex request people to be courteous? Why aren't there any ads like the Don't spoil the movie by adding your own soundtrack ad that plays at the AMC theatres? Why doesn't someone take a hint from the Alamo Drafthouse? (the uncensored PSA is here)

Monday, October 17, 2011

entomical cojones

Look carefully at the glass wall for the customs office (or some office dedicated to a similar function) at the airport in Pune as you walk from the check-in counters to the place where the security check is conducted and you will be informed (among other things) not to take khus khus and (I kid you not) beetle nuts into Dubai (or the Gulf, unless I am mistaken). Surely they meant betel, unless those parts of the world regard the family jewels of the members of the Coleopteran order as either a culinary delicacy or something as precious as a rhino's horn.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

jobs all over

Last night, when I read that Steve Jobs had passed away, I switched to the Hacker News tab and refreshed it to read what the world had to say. I saw something I had never seen before: every single one of the 30 items on the first page was about Steve Jobs. It was worth a "screencap": steve jobs on hacker news

My favourite tribute so far (aside from the austere bold link on google's main page) was the image here.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

super seven: the fox is on fire

All hail Nicholas Nethercote!

When Mozilla launched Memshrink to finally do something about all the memory that Firefox never seemed to let go until it had to shrug, I discovered Nicholas Nethercote's blog. Since then I have been reading every new post on his blog, enjoying his writing style and also learning a lot about performance tuning and about the innards of Firefox (I didn't know just how much sqlite was used in all those add-ons). I also waited eagerly for Firefox 7 so that I could see the results of all these fixes and last week I didn't hesitate a moment when I saw the pop-up in the system tray telling me that Firefox 7 was available. Mercifully, the only hacks I needed to get two add-ons working were familiar ones that I had effected when Firefox 5.0 was rolled out.

A few minutes later, after Firefox was back up and running, I could see the difference. I spent some time playing with about:memory?verbose, because the output now contained information about the various compartments that were using memory. Firefox was not lurching to chomp away memory. Instead, it seemed more well-behaved and offered strong testimony to everybody who had worked hard to plug all those leaks and free all that heap.

The only cloud in this silver sky was a news article screaming that Chrome was poised to take over from Firefox as the second most popular browser. Perhaps all these fixes have come too late. Perhaps the article didn't analyse the data correctly and fairly. I don't care much right now as long as Firefox 8 promises to shed even more lard.

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