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© Rakhesh Sasidharan

Elsewhere

Self-learning; picking up new stuff

I realize over time that I am not good at learning things. As in, if I have to pick up something because say it’s a new topic and I must read about it, or maybe there’s an exam/ certification I wan’t to clear and so must study for it – I just can’t do these kind of tasks. I am also not good at just picking up stuff by doing it – like say maybe learn Linux but installing a distro and spending some time with it. I just don’t work that way. 

I knew this from before but used to consider this a negative quality of mine, mixed with fears that maybe I am not good enough. But nowadays I realize that while it still is not a good way to be, that’s just how I am and there’s no point overly thinking about it. Just have to take it in the stride. 

Like now for instance – I attended a Citrix course some months back and want to do its certification. Thought I’d get the list of objectives and course material and read through it and prepare myself. But I am just unable to focus. Knowing this nature of mine I had previously tried setting up a Citrix lab to get a hang of stuff. While that was a better success than this current idea of reading, that too didn’t get to the point I want to because I am not good at creating my own objectives – especially when I know it’s a “fake” one. It’s sort of like how I enjoy walking, but ask me to do a treadmill or just walk outdoors for exercise and I can’t do it. I’ll walk if there’s a need to – I don’t hate walking, in fact I love walking and think I am quite good at it – but I am not going to go for walks just for kicks. Weather and mood permitting I might for a walk just to listen to some podcast or an audio book; but that wouldn’t be coz I want to walk, it would be coz I want to listen to something and walking will let me do it peacefully. 

This is a difficult situation to be in when you are an IT professional. If your workplace is one where there’s plenty of new projects happening or things to do, it is a good state coz I know I will jump into these and quickly pick stuff up and do wonders; but if your workplace is not of that sort then I will get bored and get into a rut soon – stagnating and becoming pretty useless. This nature leaves me at the mercy of my environment than letting me be a self-driven person. That sucks!

Anyways, time to go back and read Citrix. Enough distractions via blogging. :)

Time and all that …

This is something I wrote while killing time in the metro today … was in a bit of a “mood” so this is not one of my typical techie posts. Feel free to skip. You have been warned! :)

Listening to Stephen King’s “The Dead Zone” read by James Franco. I pre-ordered it after watching “11.22.63”. From the book blurb I thought it would be more sci-fi or horror, but so far it’s been slow, thoughtful, and quite well-written (yes I know I have no right to say that, just that I expected the book to be something else and am pleasantly surprised by what it has turned out to be). I don’t know where the story is going yet… there seems to be one main strand with a few little strands strewn over so far and am guessing they all intersect at some point. I am only some 3 hours into a 16 hour book, so plenty of time left! 

Listening to this book reminded me of ‘time’ from “11.22.63” (same author) as well as “Slaughterhouse-Five” (same narrator). Both talk about ‘time’ differently but with the same idea. Both books treat ‘time’ as frozen/ pre-determined and “11.22.63” especially has this idea of time fighting back if you try and change it. I liked that and wish the book had elaborated more on it. 

If you view ‘time’ as frozen (i.e. this moment has already happened, the future has happened) then ‘time’ is ‘fate’. The question of changing your fate or trying to change your luck then becomes a case of trying to work against ‘time’. Which is sort of interesting coz then you can see ‘time’ working against your efforts. I hate that but also find it fascinating because that makes ‘time’ or ‘fate’ kind of sentient or purposeful (like they are really “out to get you” :p). 

A long time ago I had come across Dilbert comics author Scott Adams’ “affirmations” concept. Basically you think of something you want and keep repeating that idea as a sentence many times a day. For example: “I will get a score of 100/100 in my exam on Saturday”. Write this sentence down say every day morning for say 20 times. That’s affirmations. The exact details are variable – as in maybe you could type it down or just say aloud to yourself; or maybe no need to do it in the morning but just at some point during the day or at regular intervals through the day… you get the point. I had tried it many years ago and nothing happened. At that point I felt maybe I wasn’t doing it correctly and so left it (and in fact later on things kind of turned out to be opposite to what I had wished for – story of my life! :p). Didn’t think much of it and left it. 

Some months ago I came across this idea again from one of his books and also a few podcast interviews. Tried it again this time, with more earnestness, and this time I felt there was a sudden “kick back” from time in terms of changing things such that the things I were affirming for were no longer possible. And then I saw “11.22.63” and the concept of ‘time’ fighting back entered my mind and it’s been sitting there since then. I’ve tried a few other things similar to affirmations (both before and after watching “11.22.63”) and every time there’s been a kick back – often a strong one to completely derail what I was wishing for. These kind of events reaffirm my thinking that time is frozen, and if you try taking a blow torch to thaw it a bit, it fights back! :) I guess words like “frozen” and “blow torch” are not the right ones – it’s more like the path is bound with strings tied to other strings in a sort of self-correcting machine mechanism, and if you try to make changes the mechanism kicks in and sorts things out to ensure you stay on path.

It’s a depressing way of thinking, but everyone has a path set out, and there’s not much we can do to budge from it. And in the few instances where we do feel we’ve managed to change things, that’s probably coz that change itself was written in the path.

Sad times…

My father in law passed away yesterday morning. It wasn’t unexpected. He was unwell and suffering for over 3 long years, so I am glad he’s finally managed to move on. Of course I wish he didn’t have to have the disease (cancer) or suffer in the first place; but given the fact that he was going through pain I can’t even begin to imagine and the humiliation of hospital visits and your body no longer being yours, I am happy he has moved on. 

Death is a shitty thing though for the people you leave behind. 

His wife has been sad and crying since then. Obviously. She’s going to miss him and whatever us children do it’s not going to replace him or her relationship to him. But more than all that, what saddens me is the constant throng of people and relatives. I guess it’s just me and my introvert nature – I can’t imagine what I’d do if I were in pain such as this and had people around me. I would be able to be myself around them, and I’d just hate having so many people around. 

Well actually, I can’t even imagine what sort of pain I’d be in. I don’t get close to people, and even the ones I do get close to haven’t really resulted in any deep inseparable bond sort of thing. (Again, just me I guess. I aim of this “ideal” in relationships and how I am. I dream of an abstract but intense relationship. Reality doesn’t work that way so I don’t know how I would even react to the loss of any loved on). 

Sitting here in Kerala, one it’s so boring; and two, I can’t help think that all this “process” is just holding everyone back. Today is day 2 but we are all still stuck in day 1. (By “we” I mean his wife and daughter etc – people with feelings). We are waiting for the son to arrive before the last rites can commence. He is due to arrive today night, so all that stuff will begin tomm morning. And that’s a ritual in itself. First his body will be brought from the cold freezer in the hospital. Then there’s a whole bunch of rituals to be done by son & daughter & other interested parties, after which the body will be cremated. During all this time there’ll be people and relatives – oh so many people! After cremation there’s more rites I think, but I am not sure. Then some 5 days later (or maybe it’s 3 coz I am not sure if they start counting from the day of death which was yesterday) there’s some more rites. Then we have to put his ashes and remains in a river somewhere. Then a few more days later (the whole thing ends in abt 11-12 days) there’s some more rites and rituals. And with that everyone is able to move on… I think. 

The thing that strikes me is how we are all just holding on to him. I don’t know why, it feels so unreal to me. Like why do we ‘need’ to do all this to remember someone? A loved on dies, it’s a private thing. Let that person go – the body at least – and then mourn in private or with friends and relatives, and try to just move on. I am not saying forget the person, but just move on. Try to get on with life. Incorporate that person into your life, make him or her a part of you/ your memories/ your base, and then just get on with it. Spending 12 days in rituals (I am speaking of Kerala Hindus by the way, specifically the community of my in-laws, things could vary for others) holding on to the one who is no more, crying, remembering, mourning… it just feels so impractical or negative. 

Right now for instance, we had to remove all the furniture from the main room because tomm morning that’s where the body will be kept. His wife burst into tears seeing that. I empathize with her. It is a sad sight – seeing things removed off your house (“their” house, their furniture, their dreams and reality) to place to dead body of your loved one in its place. It’s heart wrenching. And it leaves your last memory of everything in a bad place. Your last memory of your loved one is all this – not just pleasant ones if your time with him. 

And now I have a relative trying to socialize with me so I have to abruptly stop this flow of thoughts. Bah! 

Never mind he’s left. :)

My wife’s sad that she will have to do last rites tomm as she doesn’t want the last image of her father to be him in this dead state all skinny and lifeless. I get that. When I am dead I wouldn’t want anyone’s memories of me being my lifeless body or this sad state. Yes I would want them to miss me. Every day. Think of me, miss me, terribly miss me in fact – but I would still want them to be able to live life as usual and I would want their memories of me to be the good and bad times we had together, not a corrupted image of me lifeless with nothing more of “me” in it. And I would definitely want them to move past my physical body. That’s not me any more. That’s just what I was. Now I live on inside you, as part of you. Keep me alive that way instead of feeling sad that I am not physically around any more. If I love you I wouldn’t want you to be sad, and definitely not on my accord. 

Anyways. Death is a shitty business. And I have to go through the motions for the next 11-12 days. Definitely not looking forward to it. 

I didn’t know my father in law much though. He was a good person though and I’d like to think we respected each other. We didn’t speak much. I am an introvert and prefer reading a book or watching a movie instead of interacting with people. He was an introvert too, lost in his books and farming and teaching etc (to be honest I don’t know what else as I wasn’t too close to him). But he was a good person. A person filled with morals and all that good sort of stuff. He cared for his kids and family, wanted the best for them, secure their future, try and do what he could. Most of all I think he was a very simple person. You know he is wasn’t cunning or wily and that whatever he said or did was simple and from his heart. That’s probably *the* quality of his that I admire and remember most. It’s rare to come across people whose actions and words reflect their inner thoughts. Most people (myself included) aren’t simple. He was. 

Someone needs to arrange lamps now for tomm’s ceremonies. I guess that’s one good thing of having people around. You can ask someone to help out as everyone’s there to help out. I would rather not having people or rituals, but considering you are stuck with both it’s good to know that both work out for each other. Your role (as family) is mainly to participate in everything – rituals and socializing. 

Had to go socializing again now. Someone I have no idea of has come to visit. So go through the usual motions of hi hello and receive condolences etc. And then they sit and stare into the emptiness for a while and you to do the same (except in this case I am bored now and typing this post!). That’s a very funny thing about this business. Everyone just sitting around staring into the emptiness. I know why we do it – it’s to express sadness. Wouldn’t make sense to have a loud conversation or chit chat, so best is to just stare into the ether with a sad look. 

I think it’s time to stop blogging. More visitors coming in. More socializing to do. More staring.  Sigh. 

You know you are getting fatter when…

… when you put your phone in the left pocket and the Bluetooth music streaming starts to stutter. 

At least that’s what happened to me just now. 🙂 I don’t recollect having any issue with the phone in my left pocket and streaming via Bluetooth from there until today. I think it’s coz the headphone has its Bluetooth receiver on the right side so the left pocket to right ear traversal is more sensitive to increased tummy fat! Sigh. 

Toggl, Todoist, Trello, Workflowy, KanbanFlow, etc.

Just a quick shout out to Toggl. It’s a time tracking app that I used to use a while back and have started using again now. 

I am an IT person. So why would I need to track my time? It’s not that I have to bill it to anyone, unlike say if I were a lawyer.

Reason I decided to start keeping track of my time is because I felt it might improve my productivity. And even if it doesn’t, at least I’d have a better understanding of where my time is going and how. Currently I get to work and start doing my tasks and whatever keeps coming my way, but I feel I am not getting a hang of the big picture. There’s no overall feel to what I am doing during the day. $hit just keeps coming my way, I deal with it. There’s a lot of other (non task related) stuff I want to do, but I lose track of that. Then when I get home I try and spend time taking care of those non task related stuff, and by the end of the day I have no idea where my time went. No sense at all.

I use Todoist to keep track of my tasks. I have been a fan of Todoist for years now. I was previously on Wunderlist (way before Microsoft bought it and re-released it earlier this month) but I moved to Todoist as I felt it better fit my needs (I don’t remember now how Todoist was better). I am actually a paid subscriber. Never thought back when I signed up that I’d actually pay money for a reminder app, much less continue doing it! :o) The good thing about Todoist is that it has extensions for Chrome and Firefox, apps for iOS and Android, and even a desktop version for Windows. So I have access to Todoist pretty much wherever I am. Even during my team meetings or 1-2-1’s with my manager, when I am giving a task I quickly note it in Todoist so it’s there. In short I am a fan! I use it to keep track of both personal and work related tasks. 

For a while I experimented with Trello for my work related task management. It was good but I absolutely hate the fact that I can’t delete my boards etc. All I can do is archive, and I don’t like that. It feels very limited. That’s when I started using Todoist for my work tasks – I just made multiple projects in that for stuff in progress etc. Today I came across another tool – KanbanFlow – which is similar to Trello but doesn’t seem limited like it, so I might give it a shot. I like the idea of having my tasks as a board. I guess there’s more sense of accomplishment when you see all your tasks as “Completed” or “In Progress” as a bunch of cards, as opposed to with Todoist where completed tasks get removed of the list. Not a big deal I know, and I might just stick to Todoist for work related tasks too, but I hope to give KanbanFlow a whirl. 

I must also give a shoutout to WorkFlowy – an amazing tool for making lists and keeping track of stuff. Before there was Trello and Todoist in my life, it was WorkFlowy. :o) And yes, I was a paid subscriber to them too for a few years. The best thing about WorkFlowy is its tags system and the way you can jump across lists – it’s simply amazing! I don’t remember why I reducing using WorkFlowy. I guess the transition was that I needed something to organize my work related tasks and Trello let me do that in a more visual style; and from there I could jump to Todoist as it let me add reminders and keep both personal and work tasks together. 

Back to Toggl. Found this page with a list of productivity tools that Toggl integrates with. I don’t know most of them – must check them out sometime. Also while on Toggl, here’s two funny cartoons from them. :o) On IT jobs. And how to save the princess in various programming languages. 

Going to hit ‘Publish’. I can see from my Toggl timer that I spent 29 mins typing this post up!

More Random Thoughts…

Came across an old Bollywood song on radio today. Well not thaaaat old :) but old as in from my school/ college days. “Badi Mushkil Hai” by Abhijeet from the movie “Anjaam”. 

Whenever I think of my school/ college days I keep thinking they were much simpler and easier than now. I don’t want to sound like some old man reminiscing his past, nor am I a technology hater who wishes for the past when there were less technological advances etc; but those times just “feel” a lot better. Simpler music.  Simpler movies/ stories. Even when I was watching 11.22.63 and Maigret last weekend I had the same feeling – life just feels more complicated now. Like we are somehow out of touch with reality. 

I guess these thoughts are because of those two TV shows plus the fact that I am listening (audiobook) to a Raymond Chandler novel and before that to “Slaughter House 5” – all stuff from an older time, and especially two of them with lot of time travel references. Puts you in that frame of mind I think. 

I guess the past feels simpler because we had less choices then. Either coz there were only less choices, or we were only given less choices. The number of choices you have in school or college are less. Similarly the number of choices 20 years ago in terms of career or place or even stuff you can buy were less – so it just feels simpler that way. Plus societal ways too were limited. Relationships were more straightforward and simpler. Now we have a choice in everything. You can choose how you want your life to be, what you want to be, what you want to do, who you want to be with (not just in terms of “a person from the opposite sex” but even which sex you want to be with). There’s choices everywhere. Gives you more freedom but also gives an impression that the past was simpler. That’s what I think at least. 

“Anjaam” was a good movie by the way. Shah Rukh Khan had a lot of good movies in his initial days. I was a huge fan of this and his movies. I guess I am partial to the anti-hero sort of character. And nearly all these characters he portrayed had an intensity to them. His characters still have intensity – but back then (a) they weren’t just heroes like his characters now and (b) because they were quite negative the intensity gave them an edge. And many of his characters were the obsessive types. Flawed, one could say. I felt they were more in tune with reality. Real life does not have on screen hero characters. We are all flawed. Some just a lot more than others. Even the good characters he played (like in “Yes Boss”, a favorite) we different. You could relate to them. And they were flawed in their own way. 

Do the increased choices we have now reflect an increased free will? I don’t think so. I have been thinking of this too past few days. I think ever since I read “Slaughter House 5”. I liked all that was expressed there about time. They have been constantly in my head since then. I used to think of the past and choices as something I make, something I have control over. Now I think less so. Like Kurt Vonnegut wrote I feel it’s just a limitation of us now being able to see in the time dimension. Everything has already happened and will happen. To us it seems like it’s unfolding and we are making choices, but what if the choices have already been made (or rather, there is no choice to be made really) and we are just exactly where we have to be. Such a line of thinking does not make life any less worth living or exciting. We still don’t know what is going to happen – so that curiosity factor is still there. We just stop deluding ourselves that there’s some actual choosing we are doing. Yes, we make choices. Yes, we decide to do this or that. All that happens and all that will happen will continue as it always had – and it will appear that it’s a conscious decision from our side due to x, y, z reasons. None of that changes. What changes is wishful thinking that we could have made different choices or that our present could be different/ better. We are exactly where we have to be. Every one of us. It has all already happened. 

A cube is a cube to us because we can perceive three dimensions. If all we could perceive were two dimensions then it would be a square to us; and if all we could perceive were one dimension then it would be a line. But irrespective of what we can perceive the cube is always there. And it appears as a cube because three dimensions is all we can perceive. If we could perceive time too as a fourth dimension then the cube won’t appear like it does for us now. It would be something else altogether. And that object would be just as static as a cube does for us now. This structure will encapsulate the entirety of the choices the cube would have made in time – if it moved places for instance. That object is static. The cube’s journey is a tableau in that. From the cube’s point of view it made choices; but there really is nothing to choose. The 4D cube just exists and is there. 

Yeah I am taking gibberish I know. :o) Most of it doesn’t make concrete sense to me either. But I am fascinated by the alternate point of view that it’s all fixed/ pre-determined. That there really are no choices. That whatever is happening, happened, and will happen has all already happened. I am just a passenger going with the motions and making my choices. Sometimes I choose good, sometimes I screw up. Sometimes I am good. Sometimes (most times haha!) I am a screw up. But it has all already happened. 

Over and out!

Random Thoughts…

Reading about Kurt Gödel the other day. Intentionally Googled for him actually. He fascinates me ever since I (half-)read “Godel, Escher, Bach”. A genius. Especially his Incompleteness Theorem. I vaguely remember him being a severely depressed person (I think I had read a biography of his, or at least kind of read). Surprised that such a genius person would be depressed. What would depress a genius?

Generally Googling on this I got the impression it’s not uncommon for geniuses to be depressed. It shouldn’t be surprising to me yet I a kind of surprised. Am curious what would make a genius depressed. I just imagined that they would be so wrapped up in their own world that they wouldn’t have worldly things to be worried about and be depressed for. But turns out I am wrong. There seems be a lot of correlation between being a genius and being depressed. The link seems to be that such people obsess over the smallest of things and when that seeps into other areas it can have depressing effects. (Not being a genius myself, but a person obsessed with details and prone to thinking a lot on absurd things and getting disturbed by that I understand that). 

Not all geniuses are depressed though. 

Which brings me to this post. I am listening to Raymond Chandler’s books nowadays and was thinking he’s so smart. The whole noir detective genre that he introduced. His writing, the characters, the plots. So smart and creative. I don’t know if he was depressed – I didn’t Google that. Would be surprised if he were considering the wit in his writing. (But then, comedians are depressed people. I wasn’t surprised when I read Robin Williams was depressed. I get that too. So maybe I shouldn’t be surprised if I Google and find Chandler to be depressed. Anyhow – I am digressing…)

Now I am listening to some music. Classical music and film scores etc. Currently listening to the Mission Impossible 3 score actually, as I write this. A great score by Michael Giacchino. I would call him a genius. Don’t think he’d be depressed though. Or other great composers. Hand Zimmer etc. 

I think there’s two sort of geniuses. Those with a bit more intensity are the ones who get depressed. In fact, the key thing is intensity I think. (All geniuses are creative but it’s the intense + creative combo that’s deadly). Geniuses with intensity are one notch above other geniuses. And this intensity is what increases their chances of being depressed. This intensity is also how I am able to explain my own thought processes. Intensity is good. But it’s a double edged sword. It’s like one of these X-Men mutant powers – and not the good kind that you can hide or somehow meld into society with. Intensity is the sort where you will be outcast for sure and you are already set up to be depressed. 

That’s all. Stopping before I ramble on. Wanted to put these thoughts somewhere and since they came out in flow thought this blog would be the best place. :)

[Aside] The Ultimate Guide To Being An Introvert – Altucher Confidential

I tweeted this link but then thought I should put it on my blog too mainly as a reference to myself. Sometimes I wander through my blog looking for wisdom and I hope to find this post then. A great read, especially if you are an introvert and view that/ have been told that it’s a bad thing. 

http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2017/04/ultimate-guide-being-introvert/

Read the full article (it is long); here’s an excerpt I liked. 

Being an introvert has nothing to do with being shy. Or being outgoing or not outgoing. Or being socially awkward.

All it means is that some people recharge when they are by themselves (introverts).

Other people recharge when they are interacting with many other people (extraverts) and most people are in the middle.

I lose energy very quickly when in a group of people. Getting invited to a party is horrible for me.

I say “no” to almost every social situation. Because I know they will take energy away from me doing the things I love.
If I’m giving a talk it’s no problem. Because I’m by myself on the stage. It’s one to many instead of me just one in a mess of people. I recharge on the stage.

Pir Jalani

Before I get busy with my day, I wanted to quickly give a shoutout to this video – Pir Jalani, from Coke Studio (Clinton Cerejo and Mangey ‘Manga’ Khan; music by Clinton Cerejo). It’s a fusion song – a traditional composition featuring lyrics in some Indian language I don’t know as well as Hindi. That’s what I have been on listening since day-before yesterday night when I first discovered it. I love the mix of the raw singing of Mangey Khan with the softer singing of Clinton Cerejo and the music – which is are sort of opposite to the raw singing and yet complements it and the two get along together very well. The song starts off in a very traditional way but quickly develops layers and becomes something else altogether! Loved it! (I especially loved the trombones and trumpets – totally didn’t expect that!)

Coke Studio has some good songs. Here’s a few off the top of my head (note: I have updated this list since my original posting):

  • Bismillah (Kailash Kher, Munawar Masoom; music by Salim-Sulaiman) – such an amazing pious song!
  • Piya Se Naina (Sona Mohapatra; music by Ram Sampath) – a peppy number.
  • Aigiri Nandini (Padma Shri Aruna Sairam, Sona Mohapatra; music by Ram Sampath) – two contrasting styles, singers, voices – what more to say!
  • Madari (Vishal Dadlani, Sonu Kakkar; music by Clinton Cerejo) – a powerful song; both Vishal Dadlani & Sonu Kakkar shine with their voice through this song.
  • Ambwa Taley (Javed Bashir, Humera Channa) – I don’t think I can even describe what I feel about this song; the singing is so strong and touching.
  • Aao Balma (Padmabhushan Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan, Murtuza Mustafa, Qadir Mustafa, Rabbani Mustafa, Hasan Mustafa, Faiz Mustafa; music by A.R. Rahman) – I discovered this early morning one day when I was woken up as I was on-call at work and couldn’t go to sleep after that; listening to this just blew my mind and I think I spent the whole day and the next few listening to this on loop.
  • Saathi Salaam (Sawan Khan Manganiyar, Clinton Cerejo; music by Clinton Cerejo) – another good song.
  • Naariyan (Shalmali Kholgade, Karthik, Amit Trivedi; music by Amit Trivedi) – an upbeat number, different to the rest; less Indian sounding. One thing about Amit Trivedi is that you can expect various sounds, different instruments, and he manages to mix them all together. Fun lyrics too, this one!
  • Rabba (Amit Trivedi, Tochi Raina, Jaggi; music by Amit Trivedi) – I wasn’t so hot about this song initially but it slowly catches on to you. 

One thing I noticed (an obvious observation, but I wanted to mention anyways) is how the headphones I use seems to enhance the music. My favorite way of listening to such music is via the Sennheiser HD 558. These are probably my favorite headphones – not practical to carry around or even use with others around – but they are super comfortable and open-backed (which is why I can’t use it with others around as it lets the music out and also lets in sound from outside; but this enhances the sound quality I think) and they just add “something” to the music. It’s like it lets the music/ the instruments “free” – gives them more space, so to say, a wider feeling … difficult to describe. It adds something to the whole experience. 

Apart from this I also listen to music via the Sennheiser PXC 550 which I previously mentioned, Bragi Dash, Bose SoundSport, and SoundMagic E10 & E10S (mostly E10S). The order in which I mentioned is the order in which I rank their music quality. It is not a huge difference, but I always notice a difference between these headphones. Each has its pros and cons which is why I use them, so I don’t judge their sound quality difference against them – but until a few years ago (which is when I started noticing this and began investing in good headphones) I wouldn’t have imagined headphones to make that much of a difference (and even now, like I said, it’s not a huge difference – it’s subtle, and may not matter to all, but it matters to me and makes a difference to me in the way I enjoy and appreciate the music). 

Enjoy the music! Such amazing talent.

Update: Some more (non Coke Studio songs):

  • Neeye (Yazin Nizar, Sharanya Srinivas; music by Phani Kalyan) – amazing music, and the male singer has such a wonderful voice!
  • Poori Qaaynaat (Raj Pandit, Vishal Dadlani; music by Salim-Sulaiman) – again, amazing music! The singing is of course great, I loved the Sitar too.

The big question …

This big question with time travel is what sort of a music player is life.

Is life the sort of music player wherein once you start a playlist in shuffle mode the music player shuffles the tracks internally and you can go back and fro among tracks and the same pre-shuffled order is maintained (i.e. the playlist appears random, but it’s not really random because the randomness is introduced just at that starting moment; so if you were to build a time machine and go back in time you can’t really change anything because you follow that set path, everything is kind of pre-determined).

Or is life the sort of music player wherein once you start a playlist in shuffle mode the music player always chooses the next track to be played only when the current track reaches an end, and while you can go back to the previously played tracks (i.e. you can build a time machine and go back to past events) but once you go back to a previously played track, the next track in the list is a new randomly chosen track (i.e. once you go back in time you can change the future; things aren’t pre-determined, there is no set path).

:)

Hello again!

Been a while since I blogged here. Nearly 3 months … phooey!

I’ve been lazy. Plus busy at work. And doing less following around with stuff as I used to do before … all that led to a lack of posts here. Hopefully I get to posting with more regularity again.

Logged in today after a long while and update WordPress to the latest version along with all its plugins.

The Disturbances of my Mind

I like classical music. Both Western and Indian. I also like Jazz and most instrumental music. I don’t know why I like them, nor do I understand much about the performances themselves, except that I like them. For instance I hear people talk about how such and such performance was great or how a certain artist added his/ her touch to a particular piece, but none of that usually makes sense to me. I just enjoy the music and some performers, but I have no real reason behind it. Nor do I have any drive to learn a musical instrument or create music etc – I am just an audience who likes to enjoy the performance, not a creator, probably not even much of a technical admirer.

I like learning languages. I know English, Hindi, Malayalam, and can understand Tamil. I spent 4 months in a beginner course of German (but had to give up for other reasons even though I was quite good at it and the instructor was impressed with my interest). Most people in the German class had joined coz they wanted to relocate to Germany. I too had that reason in mind, but it was a secondary reason – I was more into the class coz I liked learning a new language, and I was very influenced by the process of learning a new language or how it got me thinking differently. I want to learn Arabic. I don’t know of any classes near my place, plus time is a constraint I guess, but Arabic is something I definitely want to learn. Back to English, I like it a lot and I love reading and trying to write stuff in it. But I am not very creative. Once in a while I get a spark and I write some stuff – once in a few years I mean – but that’s about it. But I like the language as such, and I love reading to get a feel of how to use the language, and I try to use what I read in whatever little bit I write. And even though I am not very creative I do try and write stuff like this blog – which isn’t very creative, I know, but is nevertheless an outlet to write.

Similarly I love computer languages. I love C, C++, Perl, Bash, PowerShell. I also know Java, HTML, and CSS. I want to learn Python, Ruby, new stuff like node.js (JavaScript). I briefly programmed in LISP and Scheme in college and I think they are amazing languages and would like to learn more about them. When I think of these languages the feeling I have is of passion, of love. I don’t just think of them as tools or as a means to an end. I think of them as an end themselves. I really love these languages, I really love the time I spent learning and programming in them – those are some of my fondest memories. But again, I am not very creative. I am not good at coming up with smart algorithms, but if I am given an algorithm I am good at expressing it. I think I write beautiful code – at least that’s what I always felt compared to my classmates in college. They’d come up with smart algorithms and generally solve the problem way better I ever could, but there was no beauty to their code. My code, on the other hand, was beautiful and I was proud of whatever I had come up with. I looked neater, more elegant, and I always felt that was because I loved the language and looked to expressing what I want beautifully in that language. Sort of like how you’d use certain words that are better suited than other words, to express the same idea. Words matter. The language matters. But the underlying point is I am not creative. I may love the language, I may love the music, but I am not creative enough to come up with my own creations – and that has always hurt. Why am I not creative enough?

On to computers themselves. My biggest and sort of only passion. (I have other passions like reading about evolution, psychology, history, etc. but none of them come near my passion for computers). Again, I have no clue why I love computers so much. I don’t even do much with computers – at work I am a glorified helpdesk person though I know I am much more capable than that. Again, I see others who are doing more work than me – implementing stuff, designing solutions – but here I am. Most of these people don’t even love computers the way I do, I feel. To them computers are a means to an end – of implementing whatever they are doing, of getting paid – but not to me. I really love this stuff, and it really hurts me that I can’t spend as much time doing the stuff I want to do. For instance, I love the BSDs. (I am not much into Linux – they are fine, and I like Debian and Slackware – but I find Linux too superficial, too confused, too much about just doing things for some random reason. BSDs have more “soul” as far as I am concerned). I wish I were doing more stuff with BSDs. Maybe maintaining webservers, email servers, DNS servers etc with them. Not in isolation, but along with Windows – which too I love, and which I feel has really jumped in leaps and bounds since Server 2008. At a previous job I met someone who had implemented a Samba Active Directory environment using Fedora, with Windows XP clients. I wish I were doing that! The closest I have ever come to doing something like that was implementing a Samba Active Directory environment for my Dad’s office, using Debian Squeeze with Windows 7 clients. It was a good experience but I didn’t get to doing much. I learnt a lot of Samba and realized how cumbersome it was to do the simplest of things with it, but I also feel it probably felt cumbersome coz I never used it much. I mean, looking after my Dad’s office wasn’t really my full time work so I’d only do this now and then – which meant the workflow wasn’t ingrained into me and most of the time I’d forget how to do things when I needed to do it again. Plus there were issues which I couldn’t sort out the way I wanted to coz I wasn’t full time there. If it were my full time job I could have experimented with a test PC, got things right, then rolled it out to everyone. But I didn’t have that luxury there so it was a matter of me picking up things as I went along without much time to test or experiment. That was very lousy and eventually when someone else was going to take care of their IT stuff (coz his office had merged with another office) I was happy to let go.

Still, the point remains that I love these things and I wish I were more creative and/ or had more opportunities. I tack these together because sometimes I feel creativity is probably also related to opportunities. You have to put coal through fire (pressure) to get a diamond. Similarly maybe if I had enough opportunities (pressure) I might pick stuff up and get better and better at it and start being creative. It amazes me how some people are able to solve problems wonderfully in PowerShell, or implement superb solutions with the BSDs – just blows my mind! Compared to such people I am just a kid. My gripe isn’t that I am a kid, mind you – that’s OK, I am a kid because of the kind of opportunities presented to me which have only offered me limited growth – my gripe is that I wish I had more learning opportunities so I had a chance to grow, to do things, to learn, to develop myself, to just do stuff I love. Ideally I am doing a bit of server stuff – Windows, BSDs – plus dabbling a bit in coding. Not a full time programmer mind you, but someone who dabbles in it, and knows enough coding to quickly put together stuff and/ or tweak existing stuff. I do a bit of the latter now and then – especially in PowerShell at work – but my output (and the quality of output) has been dwindling because there aren’t enough opportunities and so I slowly forget what I know and because of this the output suffers. A year ago, for instance, most of my PowerShell scripts were much better written – with plenty of switches and some good coding – but over time, due to disuse, I forget most of it, so now when I am have to write some code I know it isn’t as excellent as my previous effort. If I had more opportunities I would be more in touch with the concepts – which I can easily pick up, after which it’s only a matter of retaining them by regular use – so opportunities are what I want. Plus a creative spark to make use of these opportunities and really do amazing stuff with the things I love.

This rant has been all over the place, I know. Off late I have been listening to too many podcasts on things I love – like the BSDs – and today I was listening to a podcast on Perl and that just overwhelmed me. I love Perl, and I still remember picking it up from Larry Wall’s book (and what an amazing book that was! he was someone with passion for languages and that showed itself in the book and Perl) and using it in one of our programming assignments. I was able to solve it way easily than my classmates coz Perl made it easy, and I just loved coding in Perl and writing stuff in it. The podcast brought back all those memories, along with all the regrets, so I finally quit listening to it midway … but by then my mind was already disturbed and I had to let it out somewhere, which is what this blog post is for. The Disturbances of my Mind. 

Crazy day!

Today has been a crazy day! For one I have been up till 2 AM today and yesterday morning because I am attending the Azure Iaas sessions and they run from 21:00 to 01:00 my time! I sleep by 02:00, then wake up around 06:45, and two days of doing that has taken a toll on my I think. Today after waking up I went back to bed and tried to sleep till around 09:00 but didn’t make much progress. So my head feels a bit woozy and I have been living on loads of coffee. :)

None of that matters too much really but today has been a crazy day. There’s so many things I want to do but I seem to keep getting distracted. My laptop went a bit crazy today (my fault, updating drivers! never do that when u have other stuff to do) and I am torn between playing with Azure or continuing my AD posts. Eventually I ended up playing a bit with Azure and am now on to the AD posts. I don’t want to lose steam of writing the AD posts, but at the same time I want to explore Azure too so it make sense to me and is fresh in the moment. Yesterday’s sessions were great, for instance, and I was helped by the fact that I had spent the morning reading about storage blobs and such and created a VM on Azure just for the heck of it. So in the evening, during the sessions, it made more sense to me and I could try and do stuff in the Azure portal as the speakers were explaining. The sessions too were superb! Except the last one, which was superb of course, but I couldn’t relate much to it as it was about Disaster Recovery (DR) and I haven’t used SCVMM (System Centre Virtual Machine Manager) which is what you use for DR and Azure. Moreover that session had a lot more demo bits and my Internet link isn’t that great so I get a very fuzzy demo which means I can barely make out what’s being shown!

Anyhoo, so there’s Azure and AD on one hand. And laptop troubles on the other. Added to that Xmarks on my browsers is playing up so my bookmarks aren’t being kept in sync and I am having to spend time manually syncing them. All of this is in the context of a sleepy brain. Oh, and I tried to use VPN to Private Internet Access on my new phone (so I could listen to Songza) and that doesn’t work coz my ISP is blocking UDP access to the Private Internet Access server names. TCP is working fine and streaming isn’t affected thankfully, but now I have this itch to update my OpenVPN config files for Private Internet Access with IP address versions and import that into the phone. Gotta do that but I don’t want to go off on a tangent with that now! Ideally I should be working on the AD post – which I did for a bit – but here I am writing a post about my crazy day. See, distractions all around! :)

Year Three: rakhesh.com

Today marks 2 years since I booked the domain (port25.io, no longer active) where this blog began life. I began posting 10 days later, on 21st November 2012. But that was just an introductory post I think, as the current oldest post on this blog is from 2nd December 2012. When I changed blog URLs I moved that introductory post to the Changelog section. Coincidentally, this post you are reading now also marks the 200th post. :)

This blog has moved on from its original goal of blogging about Exchange to now blogging about movies, thoughts, and whatever techie thing I am currently working on. It began as a outlet I could (hopefully) use to explain things to others. But it has moved to being a personal notebook and bookmarks store – most of my posts are like notes to future self, posts I can refer to to refresh myself on something I may have forgotten or just look up some command or code snippet that I used to solve a particular task. Added to that most of my posts have links to other blogs and articles – links that do a much better job of explaining the concepts – so I can refer to these links too rather than search through my bookmarks. In that sense both the topics and style/ purpose of this blog has evolved from its beginnings. Not that I am complaining – I like where it’s heading to!

Anyways, just thought I must put up a post marking this day. And write a paragraph or two in case it helps anyone else who is on the fence regarding starting a blog. My suggestion would be to just get something started. It’s a good way for the world and yourself to know what you have been up to. Sure there’s tons of excellent blogs out there so it might seem like you have nothing new to add to the pool – and while you may be correct in thinking that, I’d say it’s still a good idea to put your thoughts too out there. Maybe your way of explaining will make better sense to people. Maybe in the process of blogging about what you are learning/ doing you will get a better understanding yourself. Who knows! Give it a shot, and then back off if you have to. This blog too for instance has many weeks when I barely post anything – because I am not doing anything or I am not in the mood to write – and then I think of shutting it down for good. But usually I hold off, and that works out well because when I am back to doing something or I am in the mood to write I have a place to put it down. And then on a day like today when I look back at the posts I made over the past two years I get a kick out of it – wow I have actually worked on and done a lot of things! Who knew!

I guess I Blog, therefore I Am and that’s one good reason to keep blogging. For yourself.

Down the rabbit hole

Ever had this feeling that when you want to do one particular thing, a whole lot of other things keep coming into the picture leading you to other distracting paths?

For about a week now I’ve been meaning to write some posts about my Active Directory workshop. In a typical me fashion, I thought I’d set up some VMs and stuff on my laptop. This being a different laptop to my usual one, I thought of using Hyper-V. And then I thought why not use differencing VHDs to save space. And then I thought why not use a Gen 2 VM. Which doesn’t work so I went on a tangent reading about UEFI’s boot process and writing a blog post on that. Then I went into making an answer file to use while installing, went into refreshing myself on the PowerShell cmdlets I can use to do the initial configuring of Server Core 2012, made a little script to take care of that for multiple servers, and so on …

Finally I got around to installing a member server yesterday. Thought this would be easy – I know all the steps from before, just that I have to use a Server 2012 GUI WIM instead of a Core WIM. But nope! Now the ReAgentC.exe command on my computer doesn’t work! It worked till about 3 days ago but has now suddenly stopped working – so irriting! Of course, I could skip the WinRE partition – not that I use it anyways! – or just use a Gen 1 VM, but that just isn’t me. I don’t like to give up or backtrack from a problem. Every one of these is a learning opportunity, because now I am reading about Component Based Servicing, the Windows Recovery Environment, and learning about new DISM cleanup options that I wasn’t even aware of. But the problem is one of balance. I can’t afford to lose myself too much in learning new things because I’ll soon lose sight of the original goal of making Active Directory related posts.

It’s exciting though! And this is what I like and dislike about embarking on a project like this (writing Active Directory related posts). I like stumbling upon new issues and learning new things and working through them; but I dislike having to be on guard so I don’t go too deep down the hole and lose sight of what I had set out to do.

Here’s a snapshot of where I am now:

workflowy

It’s from WorkFlowy, a tool that I use to keep track of such stuff. I could write a blog post raving about it but I’ll just point you to this excellent review by Farhad Manjoo instead.