Monday 31 October 2005

Yesterday's Events

Yesterday was grievous for two reasons, 1) 111 people had died in a train accident near Valigonda, Andhra Pradesh 2) Around 59 people had died and many others injured in terrorist attacks in New Delhi. Former incident is caused by accident and also due to lack of foresight of railway officials & bit of negligence too, that is, they constructed a bridge which can withstand flooding from one tank only and they haven't thought of the possibility of more than one tank breaching at the same moment. Railway officials had reached accident spot by 6am, when this incident has occurred around 4:30am and only at 8:30am they started shifting injured and it should be noted that at 10:30am, still some people were hanging(literally) to their dear life by holding on to the windows of train, ceiling fans and to the branches of trees so that they won't sweep away in floods.

Later incident is caused by some human animals who had lust for blood!. Afterwards, i will write more about this in another post.

Saturday 29 October 2005

Part 1: Applications which made difference to me.

For me, Reading anything on monitor is laborious task and needless to say, that it puts lot of strain on my eyes, due to glare emitting from the screen. Most importantly, it restricts me from doing any other tasks. All this changed, when i found CoolSpeech approximately 4 years ago, initially i was apprehensive, that it may sound like a robot but my doubt was put to rest when i tried it. It is a program, which reads out text that we copy to clipboard(it holds information between the copy and the paste operations) or it reads loud as we type anything/anywhere. It also does other tasks:

  • Scheduling a task, such as, reading from a file(text, docs, Htmls) at a particular time or reading news from internet(using urls) at a particular time etc.

  • Converting text file to wave(sound) file.

  • Announces time & date (half) hourly in different styles.

It is available with different male & female voices but among them, which sounds exactly like human voice and that i like most is "Adult Male 1, American English".

This program has increased my productivity and this voice has been my companion for countless insane late nights. I still remember, the day i got this program i downloaded Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen from Project Gutenberg site and listened to it nonstop(because i was fascinated with this story, since my school days) and then i had listened to one of my favorite book 'Underground' by Suelette Dreyfus, its a fascinating book must read by everyone, Even if you are not associated with computer world (hacker's in particular). I was so trilled, that i haven't slept for two days without finishing reading (listening) to these 2 books and next i had read all (i think) works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Considering my limited time, without this application i can't follow all blogs that i subscribe to or read journals i'm interested in.

Chess has been part of my life and love. Well this statement should not be interpreted as to think that my playing strength is at Master level but i'm just a club level player but one doesn't need to be a master to enjoy beauty of this game, in which we experience all emotions of life (trust me otherwise people won't stare at 64 squares for more than 6 hours straight). Problem was i didn't had human opponent to play with, i don't like to play with computers because they mathematically calculate moves and no excitement there, which we get, when we play against human. Internet has lot of chess servers, popular among them is ICC and yahoo but ICC is paid one and Yahoo has lot of cheaters and with poor rating calculation algorithm. Finally 5 years ago i found FICS and other than chess, it has many interesting things to offer me, like, channels on various topics to chat and i can meet people from all over the world, with different backgrounds, participating in team tourneys(which lasts months) where i made lot of good friends. Thing is FICS is telnet based server, so in initial days there weren't much options when it came to GUI interface(though there were decent ones like winboard & thief). For this reason, One of the member of FICS 'rraf' has wrote Babaschess and it is more flexible because of its customizability and its complexity has been encapsulated by its simplicity. It has been great help to me. You can see below, screenshot of my screen with Babaschess running. Click on it to enlarge.

Babaschess Screenshot

Saturday 22 October 2005

Appeasement or Honest Change of Heart?

Jammu and Kashmir Council for Rehabilitation of Militancy Victims(JKCRMV) has taken decision to widen their purview to accommodate terrorist dependents. Communist Party of India-Marxist state secretary and legislator Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, who had survived tuesday's terrorist attack has said that:

The destitute families of the killed militants could not live a condemned life. Militants do not take up guns after seeking permission from their families.

Well, Tarigami's association with this news and coincidence of this announcement with terrorist attack on him, wonders me whether they have taken this decision under compulsion to appease terrorists?. If purview of JKCRMV could be extended bit further, lets say to those people, who have lost their livelihood due to terrorism & their violence and struggling to survive, can we include them too?

I don't think following stringent policy as Israel's, which flattens terrorist's house with bulldozer will help us but clubbing families of these terrorist with terrorist victims perhaps causes resentment.

Wednesday 19 October 2005

J&K: Amusing Newsreader & Terrorist Attack

Today morning around 11:30am, i was watching NDTV's Hindi news, they were following terrorist attack in J&K. What stuck me is when the newsreader proclaimed that this attack discredits the security forces intelligence, which said that the terrorist training camps across the border were affected in the quake and that 700 terrorist had died. I wondered, how? does he mean that there are no terrorists already present inside J&K (If my memory serves me correct, then i remember army spokesperson saying that approximately there are 2000 terrorists operating in J&K.) or is he implying that those terrorists cross LOC just before they intend to commit terrorist act?. On serious note, This high profile attack may not have carried out without the knowledge of higher command and recent killings in the past few days reveal that the unilateral ceasefire issued by jihadi council to help earthquake victims is sham. Increase in violence only shows their desperateness to conceal losses in POK.

All news channels had given importance to this news & terrorism, it is understandable that this prominence comes from the fact that the Educational Minister Gulam Nabi Lone had lost his life but at the same time we shouldn't forget those 10 lesser souls, who are gruesomely murdered few days ago by these terrorists. At the same time, this should not distract army & administration from providing relief operations to quake victims.

Saturday 15 October 2005

Violence against women

UNFPA State of World Population 2005 report which was released on Wednesday has highlighted some shocking facts(at least for me). Here are some excerpts from a article in Deccan.com.

In India, 70 per cent of married women who have ever experienced domestic violence believe that “wife-beating is justified for at least one reason. Shockingly, 16 per cent of deaths during pregnancy in India have been attributed by the report to domestic violence.

In India, one survey showed women lost an average of seven working days after an incident of violence. The state of women in India was highlighted again in the report on the issue of missing girls.

Worldwide estimate reveals one in five women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime; one in three will have been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused, usually by a family member or an acquaintance. Violence is killing and disabling women between the ages of 15-44 as cancer

This observation is not limited to India itself:

Even in a highly-developed society like Canada, a national survey on violence against women reported that 30 per cent of married women has to cease regular activities due to abuse, and 50 per cent of women had to take sick leave from work because of the harm sustained.

This is terrible news for two reasons 1) Acceptance/support to violence among women 2) High percentage of such violence exist in our society, i never thought that the problem is so grave. This emphasizes need to provide education and encouraging women to be financially independent to lead their own life rather than depending on others and they should exhibit zero tolerance to violence. When i think about it more, it comes to my mind that education & financial independence alone cannot reduce this violence against women and we need to bring change in the society and our attitude towards women. We need to have programs in schools for children, which teach about equal rights & respect for each other from tender age. These programs should be designed in such a way that it should discourage any display of superiority complex by males due to their physical strength.

Thursday 13 October 2005

Helping the enemy!

Yesterday, Indian media has reported that our army personal had crossed LOC and helped Pakistani army in rebuilding their bunker:

"Then our jawans crossed over (the LoC) and helped them reconstruct their bunker", Col Hemant Joneja of Army's 15 Corps confirmed to The Indian Express.

I was wondering whether our soldiers have lost their sanity!. How can they help our active enemy in building a bunker?, who till date continues proxy war against us and who aids & abets terrorist acts on our soil, despite our peace overtures. In the first place, whether our soldiers forgot the purpose & significance of a bunker?.

Well, my worries over our soldiers sanity was put to rest by clarification from our Indian Army:

"Indian soldiers did not reconstruct any Pakistani Army bunkers," an Army spokesman said on Thursday, clarifying that the soldiers had gone across unarmed to give Pakistani soldiers picks and shovels to clear debris.

"Our soldiers responded to shouts of help from across the LoC," the spokesman said, "in no case scenario can Indian soldiers help in rebuilding enemy bunkers."

Well, its another matter that our media went ga..ga.. over this incident, wrote about new hope or something similar. Perhaps its my naivety to expect our media to be sensible, Specially who doesn't know the difference between a militant & terrorist.

Saturday 8 October 2005

Our delight over Time Magazine's cover!

Wow, Sania is on Time Magazine's cover!. Wait a minute, How can i take pride in a magazine's publication, which has previously wrote unsavory article on our country's former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee?. I wonder whether people who get featured/mentioned in the time magazine's weekly cover, will they all take pride in similar way as we do?.

When i think about Time Magazine's prestige, this incident comes to my mind. In 1987, Time had published a story implying that Ariel sharon was directly responsible for Massacres in sabra and shatila, but later when Sharon filed libel suit in federal court in New York, he was exonerated by the jury.

Perhaps, i can't share euphoria of our general public & media! and for being too nationalistic i guess.