Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Achtung Panzer!

PanzerKampfwagon VI Ausf B. KonigsTiger!!

"On the road from Bollersdorf to Strausberg stood a further 11 Stalin tanks, and away on the egde of the village itself were around 120-150 enemy tanks in the process of being refuelled and re-armed. I opened fire and destroyed all of the 11 Stalin tanks on the road....My own personal score of enemy tanks destroyed in this action was 39."
SS-Hauptscharf├╝hrer Karl K├Ârner,
schwere SS Panzer Abteilung (103) 503 / III SS Panzer Corps,
East Germany, April of 1945.

"One day a Tiger Royal tank got within 150 yards of my tank and knocked me out. Five of our tanks opened up on him from ranges of 200 to 600 yards and got five or six hits on the front of the Tiger. They all just glanced off and the Tiger backed off and got away. If we had a tank like Tiger, we would all be home today."
Report by tank commander Sergeant Clyde D. Brunson from 2nd Armored Division, 1945.

I recently bought Tamiya's Tiger II build it yourself kit. I even bought another Tamiya kit for setting up the tank track with individual tracks. I am so excited about this kit and am sure I am going to enjoy building this tank. I will post links for information on this behemoth 57-tonne tank soon. Read and understand why I love this tank! I will post some more pics as I build it and hopefully it comes out looking like the stock picture.

Achtung Panzer!
Das Reich - 2nd SS Panzer Division
Loads of technical info on the King Tiger
PanzerWorld Also has an extensive section devoted to plastic modeling.
World War 2 Aces
Panzer Photos There are tons of photos at this site.

I just bought plastic cement, so I'll get started off soon! I hope you are all as excited as I am.

EDIT 1: I used this awesome tool called Hello to post this photo into the blog post. Looks like Google's Picassa had something to do with it. Its seriously as simple as 1 - 2 -3. I really liked it.

EDIT 2: On the other hand, this tool is too simplistic to be of practical use. It posts every picture in a NEW post. I have been trying to post in the same post and it hasn't worked as yet. Deleting posts from the blog is a pain too as I have to delete one post at a time.

Ars Technica

This is a tech gold mine! I will maintain the links for articles that I think are great on this site. I will just add more as I find and read them.

This is just more motivation for me to fix the categories in the template. oh well......

Introduction to Multithreading, Hyperthreading and Superthreading.

Almost every book on computer architecture talks about Moore's Law. Here is a take Technica style. Just in case you've forgotten your pipelining basics, here are parts 1 and 2 of a two part series.

The Pentium - The most famous desktop processor today - Part 1 and Part 2.

Apple and the PowerPC - Parts 1, 2 and 3

Intel's processor naming schema.

History of the GUI.

A Look at the core of the Centrino package - the Pentium M

Friday, May 27, 2005

Generation Z

In reply to a question regarding his identity in society, one particular youth had this to say -

"Yet another resource consuming being in an overpopulated planet, raised to an alarming extent by Madison Avenue and Hollywood, poised with my cynical and dysfunctional peers to take over the world when you are old and weak"

And do you know who this youth is?

Its Calvin from "Calvin and Hobbes" fame. Talk about social commentary.

Conversations with God

-"Life is all about juggling eggs"
x "huh?"
-"Its a metaphor for life, each egg represents one of life's concerns and the goal is to give each egg the appropriate amount of individual attention while simultaneously watching and guiding the others. Life is all about balance and staying quick and alert as everything threatens to spin out of control."
x "Thats when you lose control, get caught in a hailstorm of eggs and create a big mess"
- "But the important thing is persistence"

EDIT: this is from Calvin and Hobbes. This strip though being about a kid and his stuffed tiger, I think, provides a take into our lives, times, our current value system and social commentary in general. I really love these characters!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

More Xbox 360

Inside the Xbox Part 1: Procedural Synthesis and Dynamic Worlds
Inside the Xbox Part 2: The Xenon CPU

Don't let all the jargon scare you away, its a neat article.
I'll post links to the other parts (as soon as they are up) as edits in this post itself.

Though there haven't been any updates on the Xbox series, I found Part 1 and Part 2 of a similar series on the cell processor that the PS3 uses.

Part 1: Introducing the Cell Processor: The SIMD Processing Units
Part 2: The Cell Architecture

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Black Gold or Pipe Dream?

Giant Caspian oil pipeline opens

The US Energy Secretary, Samuel Bodman, was present too to claim his piece of the pie.

My thoughts in a later update. Got to get back to work!

Update: (some highlights from the BBC article) Eleven of the world's biggest oil firms are turning the taps on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, which will pump a million barrels a day of Caspian oil to world markets. Many hopes are pinned on the Caspian, and the $4bn BTC is the biggest step so far in its development. But does it have the potential to slake the world's thirst for oil?

The BBC gives out very interesting figures on oil production: the US leads with an output of about 14 million barrels a day followed by Saudi Arabia with 10 million barrels. Russia and Africa take the third spot with 8 mn barrels. Compared to these countries, the caspian pipeline looks like a trickle and even it reaches full capacity (estimated at 6 mn barrels) it will still produce only twice as much as Canada [figures courtesy the BBC].

Once we have established where this new source is placed in the pecking order of oil producing nations, it is clearly evident that the US Energy Secretary was looking for something more than presenting the presidents of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Turkey with his good wishes. The Caspian, to the US, represents a vital source of non-Russian non-Middle Eastern oil. It is no coincidence that the US is one of the biggest consumers of oil and are constantly on the lookout for breaking free (or at the very least easing the hold) from OPEC. The Caspian economy and the region's political stability will defenitely benefit from the petro-dollars that will flow in from all energy hungry countries.

On a grand scale, President Bush's visit to this region with the ostensible reason of bolstering the democratic process and to encourage these countries to break free from Russian interference, Samuel Bodman's prescence at the opening ceremony of the pipiline (obviously to claim some oil for the US market) are not events of pure coincidence. The US economy is so fragile and oil-dependant that when one of OPEC's sheikhs even so much as coughs than the oil prices rise to reach new highs. Some people even think that the invasion of Iraq had little (if anything at all) to do with the submission of terrorism and confiscating the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam had allegedly amassed and more with the oil reserves that Iraq possess. In fact, there is NO news of any weapons of mass destruction that Saddam allegedly had stashed away in a sub-terraneous bunker. Amongst the list of nations ordered in decreasing order of proven oil reserves, Iraq tops the list with 10 billion barrels. Hmmm isn't that a coincidence?

Pipe dream? asks the BBC but I think it goes more than just another source of oil.

Forgive me for sounding paranoid, but US interests in freedom and democracy aren't exactly altruistic. Being, I think, the number 1 resource consuming nation and given the size of their economy and industry - in the interest of economic preservation and continuity they try to secure for themselves a sustainable source of resources even if it means long term harm for the source itself. In the meantime, their interests would have moved onto another source, another option and the story repeats itself. They are victim of their own prosperity.

This doesn't just extend to resources but also in protecting their interests. They have war monged with Russia/China in many a country in an attempt to curtail the spread of communism literally destroying the country in an effort to save it. Once the country is in ruins, they pour in massive amounts of money in a rebuilding operation, run the country (read as scope out resources, setup installations, all but take over these installations) for a while and then turn over control to a weak and near puppet government who in turn exchange all they can offer in terms of resources and commissions for security and US backing in the international community. It does help the country in a way but unfairly advantages the US in the process.

Maybe I should just take my valium and go to bed. What say?

Monday, May 23, 2005

XBox 360 - What Microsoft is doing and why?

I came across this very interesting article on the Xbox 360 . It details many basic differences between the Xbox360 and the PS3, I would say aimed at video console ignoramuses such as myself. Its a nice analysis of what you can expect from the two rivals, the basic differences in their design and marketing approaches, business decisions, timelines and of course, the kind of games that you can play on these engines.

I have never been much of a gamer but if someone wants to buy me one of these.....

Edit 1: I came across this awesome blog maintained Major Nelson who is on the Xbox 360 Team and he provides a very indepth technical analysis on all levels (hardware, software and services) of the Xbox and the PS3. Even though I am not going to buy any one of these, it was very interesting to read and the processes used to profile their performances was very useful information.

Pt 1 of 4
Pt 2 of 4
Pt 3 of 4
Pt 4 of 4

But I sure as hell don't know what to make of this

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Crown Ov Worms?

allo you 'orrible lot!

A lengthy post on Megadeth mainman Dave Mustaine and his new found faith in Christ -

First up, Dave, to me, is a guitar god to whom I pay homage regularly. His no nonsense cynical attitude is legendary. Sticking to his guns and fighting it out is what has brought him to the forefront of speed/thrash metal. Having said that, lets come to the issue at hand -

Dave Mustaine apparently threatened to pull out of several festival appearances in Greece and Israel because two of the support acts on the bill were "full-on Satanic" bands called ROTTING CHRIST and DISSECTION. Mustaine, who converted to Christianity several years ago after his nerve injury, explained his position in a posting at the official MEGADETH web site. "Yes, I did say I would prefer not to play on concerts with Satanic bands," he said. "That doesn't mean I won't, it doesn't mean I would not talk with the bands either...But to make a life-altering change and then not have some kind of effect would not have been a change at all, would it? It's not much different from staying away from booze if you have made a decision to be sober." Mustaine added, "If I don't feel it is right for me to do something, then (I) would just respectfully decline. I would not ask that anyone be taken off if they were already confirmed...I have to draw the line and stand for my beliefs or they aren't beliefs at all, are they?"

This was in response to rumors that he had gotten those bands booted off the bill in those particular festivals. Then he made it clear that in the event that those bands were already confirmed then it would be Megadeth that would 'respectfully decline' from playing with these bands that have an obvious anti-christian stance. This coming from a guy who wrote 'Devil's island', 'The conjouring', 'Good Mourning, Black Friday'! Wouldn't playing these songs be in conflict with his faith? (even on a stage that includes bands of his choice, like Gigatour for example) . His values are now in conflict with the metal scene that he helped forge and he is using his position as an icon of the scene to influence fans of Megadeth to exclude bands that are in conflict with his faith. I want to ask a question at this point - does playing on the same bill mean that he is endorsing their point of view? I don't think so. Does he think his faith will be affected by playing with these bands. If it is, then it wasn't as strong as he thought it was eh?

I love Megadeth and I am not christian. Does that conflict with Dave's new found faith? I don't care. I am one of the biggest fans of Dave and Megadeth because of the crushing songs he composes and plays with blistering speed. I am also a really huge fan of Rotting Christ and Dissection. Does Dave's new stance mean that I have to choose between these two sides (though they were all part of the same goulash of metal genres to begin with?). I can't imagine how Dave's recipe for hate and angst will taste in a sauce of christian metal. Jung ho christians feel that it is their responsiblity to save the world from the fires of hell. I have been accosted by so many of these evagelists who try really hard to convince me that my faith will lead nowhere and Jesus is THE ONLY way for me to reach salvation. Even when I do not appear to sway (I am not one of those insecure persons who is searching for God and the purpose of life) they go out of their way in trying me to convert to their way. Dave defending himself by saying that it ain't much of a change if it doesn't stick, is a double edged sword - if you end being up so affected by even playing with these bands then your faith isn't as strong as it should be. It also goes a long way in giving us a sense of tolerance, his as a representation of a larger group of evangelists.

Going to something bigger - black metal and its obvious anti-christian stance. A christian friend of mine recently remarked that it was very easy for non-christians to like black metal. Probably so, but hey we are not the ones who invented this genre - christians themselves did! Atleast people on whom christianity was forced upon. But today, the scene is brimful of bands who come from all over the world. I agree that Philipino or japanese black metal bands are poser from the point of view that they can never associate themselves with the true feeling of anti-christian hatred that fueled the birth of this genre. The inclusion of these bands whose association with the scene almost became a point of ridicule (I would definitely laugh at a Christ hating, goat worshipping japanese/burmese band) gave birth to a sense of 'true pagan black metal' (pagan being the dominant word) and spawned another genre NSBM (Nationalist Socialist Black Metal) about which someday I post my thoughts (or someone else with more information could throw some light on the birth of NSBM?). But sure, they can borrow the same style and sing/growl/screech about religious oppression (or whatever it is that they don't like) and gain fans all over the world. Black Metal no longer is about being anti-christian - it is more of a statement of your religious freedom - freedom to practice, freely and liberally interpret the religious teachings and forming your own code of life. Some return to their asatru days (viking/pagan metal) while others sing positively about their religious beliefs (Rudra). Of course, NSBM is a very exclusive club and people who are offended by such view points are not invited to the party. In the end, it boils down to freedom - the very strand on which metal music stands on.

Whatever my thoughts and feelings in this issue, I am still a rabid fan of Dave and Megadeth. The man, his band and legacy are way too big to be affected by these temporal dispositions.

Enough said!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Thought for the day!

"Small minds discuss people, average minds discuss events and great minds discuss ideas."

I am not sure who quoted that but it does underline that one must, in order to impart some meaning and purpose to existence, break out from gossip and move onto a higher plane of thinking. I feel that the intermediate stage is crucial in setting up the processes that aid great minds in assimilating and absorbing the essence of ideas that are exchanged. Exchanging ideas with an immature dolt can bring no greater good as that person lacks these processes to think and act upon what he is being told.

What are your thoughts on the issue, anything that I missed out on?

Corporate Buzzwords!

Krishnan Ranganathan pointed me to a very interesting article on a partial taxonomy of buzzwords that you hear floating around in your coporate environs.

Me and my team members make constant fun of these words at my office. Some of them, such as 'low hanging fruit', 'idea warehouse' and 'thinking out of the box' are thrown at us at meetings in an attempt to convince us to bite off more than we can chew and then have us work 18 hours a day so that we can grab those low hanging fruits. I agree that effective speaking goes a long way but these buzz words are always floating around adding some much needed comic relief to otherwise dragging corporate meetings.

I plan to post some threads regarding effective speaking and corporate culture. watch this space for more.

I am also working on the template for the blog that allows me to categorize posts and in general give the appearance of a nicely organized blog. All part of my grand attempt to lure the unsuspecting reader to his death .

Star Wars - Revenge of the Sith

Just back from watching the last installment of the Star wars saga - was much of the standard bill of special effects, blindingly fast light saber fights and a drug store good Vs. evil plot. I am going to write a short review starting off with the premise that the movie was a good entertainer and will mainly point out its faults. Before I go on I do have to say that the movie was a good entertainer and overall was good fun to watch.

The movie at times was so patchy in narration that I wondered if George Lucas wasn't tiring of the saga himself. It suffers from one of the faults most movies suffer from- its plot moves so quickly at times with things happening just so that the story moves ahead and at other times it moves so slowly that your beard starts to turn gray with anticipation. Tacky and overly sentimental dialogues on love made me shed some of my hair in frustration.

The storyboard did tie everything up nicely though with the rest of the series with a few or no loose ends. And of course, the fight sequences are spectacular but one is desensitized by so many of them over the entire series that they have lost their charm (much like the matrix fight sequences).

And in yoda's style of speech - enjoyable it was and home I have to go, so stop writing I will.

After thought - I read somewhere that it grossed over $50 million in the first day! I contributed my $5.25 towards the third day earnings, have you?

Edit 1: Forget did I another point of the battle of the two sides of the force within Anakin. There is absolutely no time for the audience to appreciate this battle and realize the circumstances that drove Anakin to embrace the dark side of the force. This transformation, inevitable to complete the circle, was such a matter of fact and over simplified that it came across as a trivial and lame transformation executed just for the sake of the story. Even potentially powerful scenes such as the one where Anakin distracts Samuel Jackson's character long enough for the emperor to pulverize him (Sam Jackson) was so artificial with regret and remorse in one second and subservience and allegiance in another that the transformation seemed too quick and affected to be true.

The storyboard and its urgency to come full circle is the driving 'force' behind this movie and overrides any other incidents that serve the bigger picture of the series.

Special effects and the like are state of the art but then which movie isn't?

Tyrant in his pants!

Thats the front page of today's edition of the british tabloid "The Sun" and it features the once mighty Saddam, tyrant of Iraq, in his underpants. It is also rumored that there are other pictures of him sleeping, washing his clothes and has been equated to a street bum.

Obviously, the US military are red in the face. They say it is in direct violation of the Geneva convention and other Defense Department directives aimed at the humane treatment of detainees and have launched an investigation. Saddam probably didn't afford detainees any luxuries either but publishing inappropriate photographs and ridiculing a public figure (he was after all the president of Iraq), I think, is in bad taste. On being asked if this will trigger another anti-america wave, President Bush had this to say - "I don't think a photo inspires murderers. I think they're inspired by an ideology that is so barbaric and backwards that it's hard for many in the Western world to comprehend how they think." "We want to look at the story and weigh the news value of it," said Dean Baquet, managing editor of The Los Angeles Times. "But we don't see any ethical reason not to run it. This is clearly a story". Huh?? Run that by me again. No ethical reason not to run it and is clearly a story. A story? I must have missed the tabloid journalist led revolution. I wonder what that story would have been if President Bush's underwear was all over CNN - I really have to reassure myself that this high value of journalistic integrity would have been maintained in publishing this story.

I am not pro-Saddam but just don't entirely agree with the way the US has handled him.

It's hard for many in the western world to comprehend - that pretty much wraps up how President Bush and the military have handled the war on terrorism. It has turned into a PR mightmare for the military with less than respectable showings by military personnel in Abu Grahib and Guantanamo Bay. The whole war on terrorism, in my opinion, has turned into a America Vs. The muslim world. Their lack of understanding of muslim ethos and apparent lack of any interest in trying to learn just keeps them busy first shooting themselves in the foot and then in the inevitable damage control exercise.

Edit 1: I just read that the US is investigating lock up deaths in Afghanisthan. This wraps up what I said.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Google jumps on RSS boat with AdSense

Google's AdSense for Feeds lets publishers sign up to display text or banner ads at the bottom of syndicated headlines or content feeds. Publishers must insert a few lines of code to display the ads, and when people click on the promotions, they share in the fees collected by Google.


What do you guys think? Do you want to see ads on RSS feeds (just like mine).
First up, I really want to know how many people actually read these internet ads. Google lives on internet ads, its AdSense generates 99% of its revenue. That means a lot of people out there click on advertised links. I even see books on how to make it rich with Google's AdSense program. Seeeesh!

I am totally desensitized by internet ads. I don't care about them and don't want to see them in any RSS feed. (I know, its I have made a decision on this even though my blog title says I am undecided, atleast most of the time). My rationale is simple - when I want something, I look for it and given the sea of products out there I have little time (largely due to limited patience) to decide on what I want. This is where ads are helpful, they give you a flavor of the market and then you head on out to eBay and buy it! :-) On a more serious note, I'd rather visit some stores (online) and read reviews on various products before I make a choice (statistical one - considering how many stores I went to, how many people have left reviews and of them how many are positive) and then after all this market research, still head out to eBay :-)

Allow me to digress (as if I haven't already) just a little, please also do read "How to Lie with Statistics". Its a sort of self defence against what statistics (that are thrust in your face) lead you to believe but is no where near the truth. If you have been anywhere near America you know what I mean!

Some pointers to marketing/ads: Read Seth Godin's "Permission Marketing : Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers". This book, though a little dry and aggravating at times, gives you some good insight into the advertising model and what marketeers hope to accomplish from it. You can also point your RSS client to his blog .

mozilla or IE

which browser do you use? Mozilla or IE. What features of either do you like?
yeah the good 'ol wordy hazy jargon (a sort of gobbledegook) on speed, vulverability, usability and ultimately a matter of personal choice.

I personally use Mozilla. Why? I really thought about it -
Mozilla is fast (when it was in its infancy, it was light too) - nowadays with its increased share of the market (that it wrested out of IE's vice like grip) it has run into a few issues. The recent holes found in its (until now) infallible security and I find that it has slowed a bit and weighs a tad more than it used to. I like its usability, its live bookmarks and tabs! Some features might end up becoming matters of personal choice such as the tabs opening up with a blank page (customazibale to open up with your home page). The new window in IE opens up with the exact same page you are on - sometimes can be helpful and at others a pain. As I said, its a matter of preference. The interface per se is much the same as IE with the various menus, home, back, forward, refresh. What is different (and what I like) is that you can have some oft used bookmarks on your toolbar, a sort of clickable bookmark.
On the flip side, many a site use VBScript or some plugins that are tied to some MS feature and Mozilla is not able to interpret those scripts forcing you to navigate those websites with IE. But, since the community has developed so many plugins and extensions, I have seen a lot less of this problem.

IE, owing to the constant updates, has become more secure, stable and reasonably fast. Don't you find that updates have become a part of your life? (I think this is so even for Mac users - the updates may not necessarily pertain to critical security updates) Is it better than Mozilla? I am not really sure though. I definitely think that IE is improving, but Mozilla still has an edge. IE 7 is rumored to have tabs and a whole host of other features (maybe I'll post some on this in a later post). The point I want to make is that its part of MS's well established strategy - I really don't care if I didn't invent it or wasn't the first to do something but if I can do whatever you are doing a whole lot better than you are then I am giving you a run for your money/life. Yes, I am excited to see if IE7 is a whole lot better than the existing standard of browsers.

I know this isn't the last that can be said about this debate but my patience is running out and I have to end somewhere. An interested reader can enlighten me on all the other points that I am missing out or haven't discussed enough in detail.

My Verdict: Mozilla is my choice but IE7, I think, may spring a surprise and pull the rug from under Mozilla's feet.

Enough said!

Giving Birth - Painful Yet Cathartic!

First post in my brand new swanky corner in the "Blogosphere". Yipeeeeeeeee!

One of my dear friends apparently had to say this about his thesis, its like giving birth - painful yet cathartic. I don't know how painful it is going to be to publish and maintain a blog but I have armed myself to the teeth with blogging tools (of which I shall blab in due course of blabbing) and have reassured myself that I can nurture it to full bloom especially after following many a blog (about which I will blog too). Cathartic I can assure you of - I have lots to say and usually do it loudly.

In my (usually unsuccesful) attempts to be organized and systematic, I was thinking of coming up with an initial charter of the goals of my blogging intent? Why is it that I want to blog? What do I hope to achieve? Would anybody care? What sort of standards do I maintain?
Watch this space for more on that.

I firmly believe that lazy people are the most efficient. In my endeavor to be efficient I realize the value and significance of laziness. So, I decided to install a client called "NewsGator" into my Outlook client. This nifty little addon allows me not only to receive other RSS feeds but also post replies/comments on those blogs and also maintain my own blog. This it does by considering every post/reply/comment as an email. So, my writing (quite) a few emails a day, I intend to not only keep my blog flush with posts but also actively participate in other discussions. Now, MS email clients very unfortunately do not allow you to merge mails into conversations (very innovate and intuitive idea from google on their gmail) and the number of mails could grow exponentially. In order to index these emails, I have another tool (now, what would we do without these tools?) called Lookout (full points for innovation and thinking out of the box). Now, the latest versions of desktop search clients index and access emails too, just have to get one and install it. I am undecided about it (coming to think of it, indecision causes inaction leading to inertia and soon you're in too deep and out of reach giving the impression of being supremely lazy, pretty much sums up my blog heading!).

So, as often as I have heard Bugs Bunny saying - "Of course you know, this means war!".
Let the games begin!