Munim's blog

A Bangalore based computer science student's view of technology, recent happenings, and life in general


Yet another new blog location:
wow.. it has been ages since I posted something here.

New location for blog


Okay.. the new domain which I recently purchased is Cheesy, isn't it?? I have installed Wordpress on the root location itself. I will add other pages which are there in my website here. I have imported all my old posts to the new location. For now, I think this will be the last post in this blog hosted at Blogger. Here's to Blogger for faithfully hosting my blog(in this account and in for the past 3.5 years (apart from a few months in between!) But now, I think it's time to move to my own hosted space and Wordpress is the better tool for blogging at your own space. Right now, I have just uploaded a simple theme and imported the old posts. I need to find a better theme and some plugins. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave a comment here. 
To all my link partners, please update the URL in your blogroll!

Moving over to

Domain registeration takes 3 days...


I hate banks.. I don't know what it is about them. But I don't know anything about getting basic stuff done in a bank.

Even though you have a large number of domain name registrars who will register a domain name for you on the Internet, it is useless if you don't have a credit card. I decided to get a domain name for this blog and my web site. By the way, I am keeping the name secret for now. It was a stroke of genius and I don't want anyone else to take it before it is registered. I have to fill out a form and then send a DD or a check via snail mail. Only after they get the DD/check will they register a domain name for me. This takes at least 2 days. In today's Internet age! In the last 4 years, I have used snail mail about 5-6 times, and all the times it had something to do with money transfer.
And don't get started about bank deposit. Those guys at HDFC refuse to accept cash, they want a check. If I had a check, I would send it to the payee directly! They won't even issue DD's to anyone else other than their account holders.
After that, I went to State Bank of Mysore and I asked the teller if they accept cash for DD applications. She said Yes and handed me a form to fill out. After filling out all the details and handing it over to her, she says its already past the closing time so she can't do anything with it now. I go so pissed off that I felt like throwing the form at her face, but I kept my cool.
After that, I went to the good old Union Bank extension counter at our college campus. These guys have really improved service recently and now give ATM cards to new account holders in 2 days. It used to take them 2 months a couple of years ago. After handing yet another form to the teller, she politely told me that the processing fee is Rs 61! After that, I had to wait for 20 minutes to get the DD. And then, I had to find a courier office to send it to the registrar. Since it was already late in the afternoon, DD will reach the registrar's office tomorrow evening. And the domain will get registered day after tomorrow!

But anyway, one must always look at what we can learn from experiences like these. What I have learned:

  • Credit cards are damn useful. Even if they charge freakishly high interest rates if you pay the bills late and can make you bankrupt if you are not disciplined with spending, they are only way to pay for something on the internet. No paypal for Indian users. Hmm, online banking? I have to check it out.
  • HDFC is a good bank for its (rich) customers. But absolutely useless for everyone else. I don't know but probably the same applies to other big private banks like ICICI.
  • State Banks close at 2:30 sharp. And I mean SHARP as a razor blade.
  • The next time I go to my bank (which is about 11 km away from where I stay), I will get a check book. It's not the best.. But its makes life a little bit easier.

As for the domain name, I will probably shift this blog to a host with Wordpress. Haven't decided yet.. Wait and see.

Website re-launched!


I launched my website (yes.. again!). A couple of days ago, when I was reading through the stats of my blog(yes I am jobless), I noticed that I got a few referrals from my old website. I had completely forgotten about this website. I thought I might give it a facelift and some fresh content, when I realized that the FTP and the file manager for that host doesn't work properly. Fortunately, I found this amazing host which gives 250mb disk space and 100gb bandwidth. The best part is that they guarantee that the servers will be up at least till 2012. So it won't like those occasions where you lost your web space because your host just disappeared into thin air! Apart from all this, they give domain hosting, php, mysql, ruby scripting support, mysql database support, and no ads! Sounds to good to be true? Check it out for yourself! The link

Healthy blogging


How many times have you come across a blog that merely echoes what the other blogs are talking about? The main disadvantage of blogging and letting your word be heard by someone else, is that there are so many blogs out there who have nearly the same content. Typically, bloggers end up reading other blogs and post their comments there so that they may get some visitors to their own blog. Hence, the only readers you get are other bloggers. To check if your writing is actually good and your word is getting spread, you have to see how many of your readers are not bloggers. But then, how are you supposed to get readers if there are millions of other blogs out there? One way to ensure that you have unique content is to only talk about yourself and maintain a so called "personal" blog. But then, who would want to read about how bad your exams went or how your life is completely boring? Also, maintaining a personal blog can turn out to be a bit "gay".
I can hear human rights activists screaming in my head every time someone uses the word "gay" to describe something really lame. When I use this word in this context, I don't refer to homosexuals. In any case, I don't think homosexuals are lame. Gay has taken on a new meaning.. As Eric Cartman said in the south park episode Goobacks season 8 episode 6, "this is gayer than all the men getting together in a pile and having sex with each other".
Anyway, back to the topic, how are you supposed to get some readers to your blog with unique content? It took me some time to figure this out. All you have to do is to look at the most entertaining writers in magazines and newspaper columns. I am talking about columns YOU really enjoy reading. What these guys do, is to write about what's going on in the industry (depending on the "genre" of the column) and include a personal touch to it. What they think about it. How it has effected their lives. Or just some personal anecdotes.
So there you are, if your blog is just another copy of what others are writing about, then its no different. So include a personal touch to it.
Some other highly effective tips:
Write about your opinion on the subject, not the opinion of everybody. If its different, then its much better. You stand out. You have to be cruel, adamant, outspoken.
One of the most important things in a blog post is the post title. I have got visitors from search engines who were looking for very specific information by just having a good title which describes what I am writing about.
There are a few bloggers who write just for the sake of writing. For them, its a pleasure to just write. They feel good after writing a good post and don't care if no one reads it. I can say I fall in this category. Which is why some of my posts are insanely big which no one will bother reading. If you have made it this far, I am really flattered by your dedication. But like I said, writing makes me feel good.
Take today for instance. I made the stupid mistake of bathing with cold water yesterday and I am down with fever. I was in such a bad shape that I couldn't go for classes. Bunking a whole day of classes is a big deal in VTU as you need to attend a minimum of 85% attendance to just attempt the exams. And they take this quite seriously. So I was lying in bed trying to sleep. It didn't work because I had plenty of sleep. I didn't want to sit on the computer and play games because I usually feel worse after doing so. I just got my books and I was in the mood to read some of the more interesting subjects I had this semester, but my headache just didn't allow me to concentrate. Plus I read somewhere that exerting your mind by studying is not good when you are ill. I sat in the balcony with a novel and I started feeling slightly better. Then I got the idea of writing about all this on my blog and now I feel great. I am not joking, I really feel MUCH better!
The next time you see a big post in this blog, you'll know that I was not feeling well and needed cheering up.

Of 3G spectrum allocation and Hardware licensing


Wow... it's been quite some time since I posted here. If you didn't know, I just returned to Bangalore after a 20 day holiday at home in Muscat. Before that, I had my exams (AND I had lost my phone, and hence the Internet connection) so I couldn't blog. I was too busy during the holidays (doing nothing). So here I am.. For the first time, I have a lot of things to write about but I don't want to make this one post too long.
First of all, a little info about the phone I got. Nokia 6151. Nice, small phone launched at the end of 2006. It's got a 1.3mp cam and a card reader. Maybe the cheapest 3G phone around. And Bluetooth. More than enough for me. Not that the 3G is going to be of any immediate use. Apparently a lot of politics is involved in the allocation of the 3G spectrum by the TRAI. Well... that's India for you.. Politics everywhere! The guys who are planning to introduce WiMAX want their spectrum to be allocated before 3G. GSM providers fear that 3G allocation for CDMA providers will interfere with their spectrum. And the defense uses the 3G spectrum range for its own use. Right now, the defense is moving out to its additional fiber optic network, but TRAI still has a lot of issues to handle. Analysts now say that 3G services will only be ready by 2008, not 2007 as planned earlier.
I got a Bluetooth dongle which works on the Bluesoleil stack. Bluesoleil has notoriously strong licensing policies. If you get a device which is not certified, then you can only transfer 5 MB of data as an evaluation using the dongle. I got a proper dongle, but it came with the Windows XP version of the software. If I have to use it in Vista, I have to actually buy a new license (according to the article in Wikipedia). Unable to do anything else, I reinstalled Windows XP, and I use this OS regularly now.
But I have to admit.. Bluetooth is way more convenient than using a data cable. No more loose connections! And a BD dongle is cheaper than the freakishly expensive original Nokia data cable.
That's it for now.

"Hate" content


A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the vast amount of "junk" or meaningless data on the Internet. At that time, I didn't realize that there is a much bigger problem: that is information which mocks and insults other people's beliefs and views... termed as "hate" content.
If you are an Indian, and if you use orkut(chances are you use it!), you must have got scraps and messages about hate communities against religions, people, and the country itself. Just today, I got a scrap about a community which makes fun of my religion and our prophet. Other users advice me to join these communities and fight with those users who promote "hate" content. As much as I love debating over controversial topics, I don't do this. Why add fuel to the fire? Infact, most of the users in these communities are the ones who joined to argue and fight against the hate content. If everyone would just ignore these communities, perhaps they wouldn't get so much attention. And trust me, "Report Abuse" works as long as the community really violates the terms of Orkut and you give a good reason why the community should be banned.
Apart from Orkut and social networking sites, Blogs are another medium which is a victim of hate content. Recently, it was in the news that the Indian government asked ISP's to block blogging websites like Blogger, Typepad, etc. Ironically, we call ourselves the biggest democracy. But what option do governments have against the growing volume of hate content on the Internet? Desperately, they block out entire blogging and social networks.
In my opinion, we need more fair and impartial moderators to delete this kind of information. And the website administrators must pay more attention to requests to delete hateful content.
And I think search engines like Google must remove such data from their databases.
Don't get my wrong: I don't won't the Internet to be censored and freedom of expression to be curbed. We can have blogs with any content as long as it doesn't explicitly promote hate and insult other's beliefs. We can have debates and arguments of controversial topics as long as there is no flaming and insulting. All participants of the debate must be reasonable and polite. To ensure this, we need better moderation.