RSS “R” Us

What is RSS? RSS is a political party – no, wait. I’m not thinking about that RSS. I am talking about the good RSS here – that is Really Simple Syndication. Or Rich Site Summary. Or RDF Site Summary. Yes, that one acronym have four(that I am aware of. I am sure that there is many more) different full forms. They don’t call it ‘Really Simple’ for nothing.

The Party(not the happy kind)

I always liked RSS – we have been good friends as kids. Yes, RSS is the name of an Indian Political Party(IPP) – but I cannot hold that against RSS. Its not its fault that some politicians took its name as well. For my readers who are not Indians(Really? I got international readers? I thought it was just me and my mother), RSS(Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) is a famous party in Indian. You must have at least heard of one of its members – Nathuram Godse. Yes, he is the guy who shot Mahatma Gandhi. And he was a member of RSS. To be absolutely fair, he left RSS before he shot Gandhi. So, in summary, RSS is a famous Indian Political Party. And it is not the RSS we are talking about.

Anyway, let me reiterate – RSS is not RSS. I mean, RSS the web technology is not RSS the Indian Political Party. I just wanted to make sure you got the message – I don’t want you to make the same mistake I made. The other day, I saw a parade with people holding RSS flags. And since I preferred RSS over the Atom format, I tried to join in. Big mistake. I really don’t want to talk about what happened next.

Why this Post?

I’m trying to increase my subscriber count. Since this is a non-technical blog, most of you readers don’t know what a feed is. No, it is not something that you eat. What I am trying to say is you don’t know what RSS is. No, not the political party. What about Atom? No, I am not talking about a very small particle. Why can’t the people choose unique name for these? Like ‘mugabo’. Or ‘franious’. Its not that hard – as a matter of fact, its down right easy. I can do it all day long. See – ‘magoti’, ‘neoor’, ‘mella’, ‘loral’ and so on. But when they choose names, it had to be some word that’s already in existence. Why? To make me work harder at explaining what it is. Its a conspiracy, I tell you.

But I digress – back to the point at hand – RSS. RSS is a way to simplify collection of information on the web. But I am not going to explain it more – the guys at Common Craft can do a much better job than I can ever hope to do on my own…

In conclusion, subscribe to my feed…

http://feeds.feedburner.com/BinnyvaBlog

Or if you still don’t know what RSS is, you can subscribe using your email address…

Enter your email address:






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I’ll be checking my RSS stats tomorrow. I expect to see a spike in the numbers – from 2(me and my mother) to 3(me, mother and you).

LHC: A Big Letdown

I rarely do anything interesting due to my physical and mental disabilities. So what I do is wait for something interesting to happen. Along comes CERN/LHC with the possibility of the end of world. That might be interesting.

If you haven’t heard anything about this until now, shame on you. Basically a lot of scientists have been building a huge circular tunnel in Europe for 20 years so that they can smash atoms together. And along with the smash comes a small(very, very small) chance of creating a black hole and bringing about the end of the world. I would give it a 7 in my 1 to 10 Interesting scale. 9 if it manages to end the world. Of course, that’s not what the scientists are trying to do – they are searching for the Higgs particle – also called the God Particle(apparently Higgs=God). They want to see what all new particles comes out of the collusion. Yea, science!

Collisions like this happens in our Sun thousands of times every second – but does any of them do something interesting(like make a (sustainable) black hole)? Noooo. I was hoping our scientist can increase the propability of that happening by creating one of those collisions ourself.

When I am really bored, I go to barcamps, blog camps, create web apps etc. – but that’s no where near as interesting as a possible end of the world. So you can understand my expectations for this event.

Don’t get me wrong – its not like I have anything against this world. As a matter of fact, I like this planet(most of the time). I enjoy living in it(most of the time). Its just that now a days, its deadly dull. As Tyler Durden said “we are the middle child of history“.

Anyway, as you might have heard, all my expectations has been in vain – there were no collisions. Of all the things that ended the experiment, it had to be faulty wiring. If it had been a black hole, or visitors from the future, or aliens, or anything interesting, I would have been happy. But nooo. It had to be faulty wiring. Now I have to wait until 2009 to see anything this interesting – thats how long it takes to reboot LHC.

Just for the record, I am not afraid of a black hole. We have a similar(ly named) phenomena in my home town – its called the black death.

Some LHC Humor from the Net

More on LHC

Photography, Cochin and Blogcamp

As with any other guy with a finger on the shutter button of a camera, I too get delusions about my artistic talent. Put a camera in my hand, and suddenly I think I am the best photographer on the planet. But the fact remains that my artistic skills are well hidden within the recesses of my mind. Very well hidden. If you need any proof, I designed this site. One anyone sees that site, they will understand the truth about my artistic capabilities – that I have none. By the way if you are a graphic designer, don’t visit that link – they have an adverse reaction to my designs. I have seen one designer drive nails into his eyes to get that image out of his head. So before you decide to visit that site, remember – once you see something, there is no way to unsee it.

The only person to say something nice about my design was, not surprisingly, my mother. When she saw the site in question, she said something to the effect of “Ooh, green. I like green.”. Diplomatic, my mother is.

Back to the point at hand – me and a camera. Its a Canon PowerShot A460 – my partner in crime. Its a good camera for its price range. But then again, what do I know – I have only had experience with this camera.

Like many other talentless hacks with cameras, I also want to inflict my “beautiful” photos on the unsuspecting public. And flickr provides the perfect opportunity for this. Lo and behold my flickr page. Its has only a few images right now – but there will be more.

I would encourage leaving comments. I have heard a lot of comments about my works in real life – I am waiting for a few comments from the virtual side. Mainly because few of the real life comments were positive. “Atrocities against art” – one of my viewers called it. But then again, what does those uncultured ruffians know about photography?

Cochin

Recently, I tried to upload an image to flickr – but flickr managed to kill it totally. So I thought that I will upload it to this site…

Cochin Skyline

Click on the thumbnail(it shows only a small part of the image) to see the whole image – but be warned – its a 2 MB image – it will take some time to be downloaded. But its worth the wait – especially if you live in Cochin.

This is an example of how two wrongs make a right. My photography skills are in the negative – as is my skills with a graphic editing software. But put both together, like I did, and you get something positive. So, -10x-10 = +100. I love maths – especially now that I don’t have to study it anymore.

For those who are curious, the image was created by clicking 10 photos and manually stitching it together using GIMP.

Fine print: About the copyright for this image, its in Attributions-Share Alike Creative Commens license. So, if you want it, feel free to take the image, modify it, use it on your site, sell it, etc. But please, don’t hot link – its a 2 MB file, and I don’t want my servers stressed out because of it.

Blogcamp

So, why suddenly, the intrest in Cochin landscape? I was always interested in Cochin – I just did not have a digital camera earlier. I have been a citizen of Cochin all my life. Citizen of Cochin – is there a better word for that? Cochiner? Kochies? No – not good enough. Yes – I got it – Kochen*. Citizens of Cochin(plural) will be Kochens. Its got a good ring to it.

Anyway, I have a renewed love for Cochin and all the Kochens in it now – I have to leave it for a day to attend Blogcamp Kerala. I am homesick already. When I reach the boat, I will be too busy being seasick to be homesick.

So, in short, I will be at Blogcamp Kerala – if any among you are attending as well, be sure to say Hi. I like to meet the people I torment.

By the way, the blogcamp is in a House boat. I like the idea. I think its to make sure that the audience don’t leave. I hear they will release piranhas into the water once they start. Piranhas and Crocodiles – crocodiles add a native touch to the arrangement. Thoughtful.

* Note: For the non malayalies in the audience, sorry about this. Its a Bi-Lingual Pun that cannot be translated easily. Only malayalies with a firm understanding of the native slang will get the joke.

18 Days to Darkness

An artist rendering of the Darkness.

For the first time in ages, I am afraid. One of my worst nightmares is coming to life. And I don’t even have time to prepare – it will hit me in 18 days. The black death. Dark ages. The darkness. These are just some of the names given to my nightmare. You might know it as load shedding.

For ages I have been waging war against the powers that be. Or, to be more specific, against the Kerala State Electricity Board. For the longest time they have been trying to keep from me the very force that’s critical to my existence – this thingy called electricity. I have even tried to reverse time itself to escape from their clutches.

The Ultimatum

This battle has been a stalemate for some time – my powerful UPS battery was more or less a match for their constant power failures. But now they have broken through my defenses – they have given me an ultimatum – 18 days. 18 dismal days. 18 dark depressing days. 18 dispiriting, discoraging days of desperation. OK, OK, I’ll stop – stop hitting the monitor.

Yesterday when I was having coffee, my brother handed me a paper with the ultimatum from KSEB. He pointed out the relevent article…

Idukki has water for just 18 days

Water level in the Idukki reservoir has fallen considerably, raising fears that the hydroelectric project which supplies nearly 50 per cent of the electricity generated in the State will have to be shut down if the situation continues for 18 days, a top official of the Dam Monitoring Cell at Cheruthoni said on Tuesday.

Dam it!
(Sorry about the pun – it just came out – couldn’t stop it in time. This is no time for joking.)

I am sure KSEB cannot achieve this alone – I am sure they have some help(or lack thereof) from the rain gods – a known enemy of a fellow blogger. We bloggers have common enemies.

My Only Hope

Currently, I am trying to hook up my cycle’s dynamo to my computer. I would have hooked up a bike – but oil price are up – because of me. So cycle and muscle power it is. Wish me luck.

If you are not seeing any update on this site after 18 days, know this. I will not give up – I will go down cycling.

Change in Status

George W Bush, current president of USA, leader of the free world and the butt of many jokes, have made this statement to explain the present ‘rice crisis’ aka ‘food shortage’…

…It also, however, increases demand. So, for example, just as an interesting thought for you, there are 350 million people in India who are classified as middle class. That’s bigger than America. Their middle class is larger than our entire population.

And when you start getting wealth, you start demanding better nutrition and better food, and so demand is high, and that causes the price to go up.

G W Bush.

Until now, I introduced myself like this…

Hi, I am Binny V A, a freelance web developer on the LAMP platform.

But from today, I will introduce myself as…

Hi, I am Binny V A, the leading cause of food shortage in the world.

As a middle-class Indian who eats a lot of rice, I have been ignored for so long at the global scale. But I always knew that, someday, I would get the recognition I deserved. Finally that day have arrived – Thank you, Mr. Bush!

Just to be clear, I have nothing against Bush. As a matter of fact, we share some common interests. I have cat, he have cat(called India). As a matter of fact, after some research into cats and their brain controlling abilities, I am sure that its India(the cat, not the country) who is actually ruling the US of A.

Our Feline Overlords

A Cat

Lately I have been wondering why there is so many cats on the internet. Now I understand – its their latest attempt at world domination.

Introducing… Toxoplasmosis

What would you say if I told you that cats are spreading a mind control parasite that lives in your brain and modifies your behavior. What if I told you that this parasite has affected entire human cultures. It even promotes suicidal behavior in lab rats. And its already affected 50% of the entire human race.

Its true – every word of it. I know that you think its a blown up conspiracy – so here’s the ‘[citation needed]‘ version of the above paragraph. Warning: Scientific Articles – this will put you to sleep.

What would you say if I told you that cats are spreading a mind control parasite that lives in your brain and modifies your behavior. What if I told you that this parasite has affected entire human cultures. It even promotes suicidal behavior in lab rats. And its already affected 50% of the entire human race.

Scary isn’t it? Who thought that a few cute cats would colaberate to cause the collapse of civilization? I, for one, knew it from the beginning. I am sure every cat owner in some point of their life have contemplated such thoughts. Cat owners have known for some time that cats think they are better than us. Winston Churchill knew this – as can be seen in this quote where he compares a cat to a swine…

I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.

Boys, Girls and Cats

Put a guy in a room with a cat and he will show some restrain in displaying affection for the creature. But if the person in the room is a member of the fairer sex, the response will be something in the line of ‘shooo cuteeee’. And I will not blame them – its just the law of Cat Proximity coming into effect. But due to this cats seem to prefer women over men – it can be seen easily if we look at the symptoms of those affected with toxoplasmosis…

Infected men have lower IQs, achieve a lower level of education and have shorter attention spans. They are also more likely to break rules and take risks, be more independent, more anti-social, suspicious, jealous and morose, and are deemed less attractive to women.

On the other hand, infected women tend to be more outgoing, friendly, more promiscuous, and are considered more attractive to men compared with non-infected controls.

The modus operandi of cats are simple – spread the brain parasite to the rest of the human population, and then control the humans to do their bidding. There are records that proves that this method have succeeded in ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptians treated cats as gods – and I think the reason is a cute, cat created, zombie parasite.

Recognizing World Domination Behavior

If you have a cat, please keep your eyes open for these signs

  • Sits on your newspaper in the morning and carefully reads the coded message that Garfield sends out every day.
  • Used to sleep on top of TV, now monitors CNN 24 hours a day.
  • Notably absent from home during surprise feline invasion of Poland.
  • When you enter the room, Snowball and the other members of the Tri-Cateral Commission stop talking and begin playing with yarn.
  • Behind the couch you find a forged passport, plane tickets, and nine suicide bombs.
  • What you thought was “heat” is actually a four-legged goose step.
  • Well, *somebody* subscribed to alt.cats.world.domination.
  • Autopsy of the last mouse left on your doormat reveals “tattoo” to be blueprint of the UN Building.
  • Constantly petting that bald man he keeps on his lap.
  • Kitty Chow spilled on the floor spells out “Drop the car keys and leave the door open or the dog gets it in the head.”
  • Then — dead mice in the kitchen. Now — dead third world dictators in the basement.
  • Judging from the kitchen, he seems to be working on some kind of “land mine” technology.
  • Fluffy is now sleeping only 21 hours a day, down from 23.
  • Has recently been acting somewhat… aloof.
  • What your cat lacks in charisma and good looks, he makes up for with his ruthless handling of rival software companies.
  • Somehow, you’re now subscribed to “Feline of Fortune” magazine.

In closing, here is a message from my cat…

I Can Haz … You

Yes, he has laser eyes – bionic implants.

About Geeks and BarCamps

BarCamp

We are organizing a BarCamp in Cochin. Before you get excited, let me put your mind at ease – its not that kind of a bar. There won’t be any lawyers there. What, that’s not the ‘bar’ you have in mind? No, it is not that kind of bar either.

So, why do we call it a BarCamp? That’s a funny story. You see, there was this guy called O’Reilly. He created a conference called Friends of O’Reilly – also known as the FOO Camp. The people who where not invited to that camp came together and created another camp called BarCamp. Because we geeks like the word ‘Foobar’. So foo and bar – ain’t that funny? Yes, we geeks are very funny people. Positively hilarious – that’s us. Have you heard the one about GNU? That’s one of our favorite jokes.

Sure, we could have called it Programmer camp or developer camp or something like that – but that’s not very humourous. We want things to be witty – we take our jokes very seriously.

Are you a geek?

If there is anyone in this audience who thinks that the above mentioned things are normal, then you are a geek. Congratulations! As a prize, I invite you to attend the BarCamp. That is if you are in Cochin at February 3rd. Fill out this form to register (RSS Readers may not be able to view the form).







If you are coming, please try to find me in the crowd. Finding me is easy – just ask everyone you meet wether they are a Schizophrenic – the one who says yes is me.

More information about BarCamp Kerala

MWMs – A Dying Breed

I belong to a dying breed – within a few years, there will be none of us left. We are being killed systematically by the onslaught of technology. Yes, I am one of the few remaining MWM – a Malayalie Without a Mobile.

All my friends have deserted to the other side. Even my family is moving away. The world around me is falling into this trap – here is a graph that shows the demise of our civilization…

MWM Percentage

Just decades ago, the MWM(Malayalies Without Moblies) was at 100% – now it is at 2%-3% range. And most people in this range are babies. And they belong in this range only for a short time – from the point of birth to the point when the father hands him a cell. So, most people belong to this range for about 4 seconds.

So why not buy a mobile? Because mobiles are about connectivity – and I am not. Having a mobile chains me to any idiot who have access to a phone. Why would anyone want that? Now, if only I could take a hammer to my land phone. My family would be suspicious – so I will have to make it look like an accident. Or a suicide.

In spite of my wishes I have been exposed to over 200 hours of deadly advertisements about mobiles. Usually after this kind of exposure, the human brain shuts down – and that often results in people buying mobile phones. I am still an owner of a functioning brain(I think – therefore, I think I am) – but I don’t know how long I can hold out.

I have no illusions about my fate. Before long, I will be one of them. I will be a brainless zombie who carries his remaining brain cells in a cell phone. My only hope is that the internal strifes within the Mobile community divides them before they take over the world. Even now there is a class struggle within the Mobile owning community – two new classes have been formed. Now there is a new endangered class – Malayalies with just one mobile.

Interest Based Priority Arrangement System

Zero Time

I have a condition. It prevents me from doing a lot of physical activities. People closest to me know about my condition – and now I want to share it with you. I have a condition – its called laziness.

I don’t like the term lazy – it has a negative connotation. I prefer the term ‘Interest based priority arrangement system’. Basically, if I am interested in something, it winds up at the top of this queue. And if I hate doing something, it goes to the other end. For some unexplained reason, many people don’t agree with me when I say that this method is the most effective productivity booster…

Others: “You are lazy”
Me: “You say that like its a bad thing!”

As I said earlier, I find ‘Interest based priority arrangement system’ a great personal productivity booster. I do all the items at the top of my to do list without fail. And I enjoy doing them – I look forward to doing them. How many other productivity gurus can claim that? GTD is nothing compaired to my system. You will understand why after you take a look at my todo list for today…

  • Sleep
  • Eat
  • Sleep
  • More Sleep
  • Coffee
  • Sleep

Four Point Method

“Wow! What a great system!” you must be saying to yourself by now “How do I implement this system in my own life?”. No fear – here is a four point method to use my (patent pending) system in your life…

1. Carpe Diem

Think of what you would like to do right now. No, don’t write it down – we are very lazy, remember? Now do it. If you want to sleep, find the closest bed and imitate a corpse. If you want to play a computer game, do it. After that, think about the next thing you want to do – then do it. Then start over again. Continue until dead.

2. Avoid Distractions

Other people will try to turn you away from this path. Parents telling you to study. Bills asking you to pay them. Bosses ordering you to work. I find that turning up the iPod volume until the music drowns out all the other voices helps in avoiding these distractions. Learn to ignore them and you will be fine.

 

 

4. Let go

And last but not the least, you don’t have to complete everything you have started. If you don’t like doing something, you can just

Look, a snake!

Snake Sign

We had a run in with a snake a couple of days ago. By ‘snake’ I meant a real snake – not a lawyer(thank goodness for that). Anyway, we have a zero tolerance policy towards snakes.

My cat spotted the snake first. It was lazily surveying the serpent thinking whether it needs to get into a rat-sharing arrangement with the snake. This is when my brother spotted it. He was the one who raised the alarm.

Soon my father and I joined the hunt. My father had a reputation of being a ‘snake slayer’. He used to tell tales of the many snakes he killed in his youth. Conveniently, all this alledged snake murders happened before me or my brother were born – so we have no ways to verify his claims.

Together, we soon drew our battle plans – I was Ariel reconnaissance. I was to get on the terrace and try to spot the reptile. Before long, we concluded that it was hiding under a bunch of leaves. Armed with this intelligence, we began the concussion bombing. That is, we threw bricks at it.

When sustained bombing did not produce the intended result, we turned to incendiary bombs. We lit a few old newspapers and dropped it on the hiding place. Don’t worry about the newspaper – it was Malayala Manorama. Burning is the best use for that publication – perhaps even the only use.

After a few minutes, the snake decided that the current location was too ‘hot’. It beat a strategic retreat to another location. We tried following it – but it slipped through our defenses. There is a network of underground tunnels under our house that rats share with this snake. Once it gets into any of these caves, the chances of catching it approaches zero fast. So we decided to give up the search.

We are waiting for it to release a video footage from one of its underground bunkers to the media.