Saturday, June 17, 2006


Argentina routed Serbia & Montenegro 6-0! What a wonderful match...
Well done Argentina...
S&M, though not a bad team, were simply out classed and out played by Argentinans.
With die hard fans and legendary Diego Maradona cheering the team the match was a memorable one, except for Serbia & Montenegro... I feel it is one of the best matches played in this world cup and has certainly raised the expectation of the spectators.
I am sure Argentina has played only half its potential and they will peak at the right time. Way to go! Beware of Argentina!
East or west Argentina is the best!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Railway Stories

I like to travel a lot, especially the unplanned ones; that too in train. You can experience a lot of things if you travel in Indian trains - the slow, crawling ones vomiting thick smokes.
Some of the journeys had taught me the virtues of patience. The journey in general compartments of various trains from Chengannur to Payyanur (during engineering days) is an unforgettable one, especially the night journey we used to take in heavily crowed Malabar Express and spend the entire night before reaching the destination.

The moment we give the concession form (college authorities gives the form) to the person in ticket counter, the argument starts (especially if the person sitting there is 'he' and not 'she') - he believes that engineering college students always forge documents!
The journey is supposed to take 10 hours (which never happens) and always used to take a good 1 or 2 hours extra and used to cost Rs.90 (Rs. 45 with concession).
After delay of 1hr (average), the malabar express stops in moonlit (curse the powercuts) Chengannur station with screeching noise. People in plarform starts running insearch of proper compartments. When we get into the last compartment silently (general compartments are always in the last and first positions), an ocean on passengers welcomes us with a sigh!
Anybody will think: 'Oh god! so many people in India?'

The old, yellow lighted but thickly coated compartments with wooden seats, births and luggage racks make all sorts of noises to keep you awake through out the night.
There were instances in which we (unfortunate engineering students) had to stand on one leg from 9PM to 4AM in cramped general compartments. Well, standing for that many hours may not be a difficult task, but add these constraints - you cannot move, you cannot put both legs on the floor simultaneously!
During these years we had made company with lots of people like ashraf (self proclaimed customs officer), Mr.x (who told about his tales of all india tour for hours without break), Mrs. y (an elderly lady with lots of luggage and wanted my help to put them on the luggage rack), lots of students from across kerala, the list goes on...
People will form various groups and start discussing about anything under the sun! a good way to kill time when u cannot even think of reding some junk book. Even in night journeys, getting a place to sit with space to spread your legs was like more than a luxury.
Of course, reserving a birth is the best option, but during the engineering days, it was always difficult to book the tickets in advance, that too one month prior to journey.
Even in the congested compartments of Malabar Express, the tea vendors will squeeze through the available space (better word is unavailable space), calling loudly "chaaya, kaaapi", breaking the entire discussions going on and adding to the pandemonium. Somebody buys tea and struggles to drink, some others curse the vendor and continue with whatever they are engaged in.

Every vacation we used to curse the journey, but see ourselves doing the same in next journey, and it continued for 4 years. Only hope for us was like at the end of the journey fruitful results are awaiting us - stay in the home for few days.
Looking back now, feel like those journeys were really worth experiencing - those have added various perspectives to our lives. Now a days long train journeys are a rarity and if at all required, there is scope for booking in advance, so that general compartments can be avoided.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Conquer the Death!

Slotted in Death Group - with Holland, Ivory Coast and Serbia & Montenegro. Argentina will have to conquer the death. With players like Saviola, Crespo, Tevez & Messi in the team and soccer in the blood, I bet Argentina will kiss the world cup.

Angels, Demons & CERN

Anybody who has read Dan Brown's 'Angels and Demons' would definitely like to know about 2 things:

Read more about CERN and the Q&A's... Interesting read - see here.

2. Ambigrams

(ambigram courtesy: john Langdon)

The brain behind the ambigrams in the novel - John Langdon. See here.

Mock the Rock

Thanks to Manesh for this foto...
Me, Manesh, Girish, Bizu & Jose rocking the stage...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Germany 2006 - Best wishes!

Today is 9th June, and only few hours left for the kickoff of the World's biggest sporting festival. Germany the obvious favorites will clash with Costa Rica. Well there are losts of instances in the inaugral match where the favorites had to suffer shocking loss - remember the Argentina vs Camerron match of 1990 world cup. In the same year Costa Rica had knocked out both Scotland and Sweden to reach last 16.

Whatever happens, the ultimate winner will be Soccer... Lets hope Germany 2006 will bestow us with unforgettable sporting moments.

World cup schedule: here
World Cup Venues:


Designing a Secure Authentication System

A nice article which tells you how to design a Secure Authentication System, through dialogs of characters Athena and Euripides.

Designing an Authentication System: a Dialogue in Four Scenes

Through the dialogues the characters design the fictitious open network authentication system called 'Charon'. The charon has striking resemblences to the Kerberos System...


Tail Piece:
Dan Brown has popularized the Bergofsky Principle in his book Digital Fortress. It states that any encrypted message can be decrypted if a computer tried enough keys; atlest it is mathematically guaranteed!
But the issue of time is the constraint here; with the key length increasing it may take years to decrypt the message and by that time, the message may become irrelevant.

Is there something called Bergofsky Principle, or is it just a fictitious principle? Well, googling tells that there is no such principle!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Pluralistic Ignorance

Recently I came across news of David Sharp, a British who died in bone freezing climate of Himalayas. He was on his way to reach the top of the world, the mount Everest.
So many climbers have noticed him in the death zone (zone above 26,000 ft); he was almost dead (physically) and nobody was willing to help him. At a moment when people are trying to conquer the world, nobody had time for David Sharp.
More than 40 climbers crossed him and continued their ascent. Most of them are reported to be found him on descent as well. Many talked to him, many discussed what to do, but done helped him, Sharp's fate was to succumb to death.
Sir Edmund Hilary had said that humans have become too selfish to let the colleague die and still continue to reach the top; the one stop destination for fame and glory. Does this state what he said or is it an instance of bystander effect - When there is an emergency, the more bystanders there are, the less likely it is that any of them will actually help?

Bystander effect and Pluralistic Ignorance are psychological phenomenon. There is only less chance of a person to get involved in an emergency situation if there are lots of bystanders and the chances are more if he is alone.
Each and every one assume that somebody is going to intervene. Next assumption is he / she is different from others and hence their thoughts are different. They also think there may be a more qualified person in the group to offer help and hence he / she can carry on. All human beings think this way and finally nobody offers help.

There are instances of goodness and humanity in the Mt. Everest; people helping others struggling to be alive...
Australian climber Lincoln Hall was taken back from the claws of death by an expedition team who were ascending the peak. Hall was in a state of what can be called semi-unconsiousness, the brain being deprived of oxygen for longer durations.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Up above the world so high!

The view from sky is truly mesmerizing (Thanks to google earth)! Wish I could fly like a bird!

Finally I could locate my native place in Google Maps satellite view :)
Since the location is in low resolution view, I couldn't make out any landmarks.
I followed the railway line and then located Olavara puza, Edayilakkadu islands, Payyanur town and Trikarpur.

Click here to view (You have to click the satellite button in the page)!
In the top center is Trikarpur town. The Edayilakkadu Island the bund connecting it to Trikarpur can also be seen.
The Payyanur town can be located in the bottom-right.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Urban Legend?

Longtime back I heard that the fate of the rider can be made out from the position of horse's feet in equestrian statues!
What I had heard is quite interesting: a statue that has all four of the horse's hooves on the ground means that the rider survived the battle without a scratch. One foot raised means the person was wounded but survived, and both forelegs raised indicates that the man was killed.

Little bit of googling said that all of the statues at Gettysburg Battlefield infact follow this 'rule'.
Though it may feel that the choice of the pose of the horse is purely an artistic one, the sculptors might have been influenced by the so called rule!