Friday, December 23, 2011

When 20yrs passed by

It must have been the scorching and so famous summer when I met Delhi the first time, because all I remember of the initial days was the nice taste of RoohAfza and me waiting for my Mom to finish off the daily house chores so I could play snakes & ladder to pass my time in the day. 
It was 1985 and I was a five year old kid. My Father was just transferred to Delhi from Jaipur. With me being the smallest of my siblings, I was allowed to accompany my parents. 'Lucky' as far my siblings, who were left with my Grand Parents, were concerned. Not sure what fascinated them about the city, especially when it was dealing with the aftermaths of the country' PM's death. My first feeling wasn't that good. Especially when I wasn't allowed to leave the house too much and there weren't any children my age in the neighborhood. All I had is the top floor heater house and some occasional visits to market in safe company of my parents. It took a few months for my parents to have us shifted from that house and move to a place south of Delhi. Mehrauli. A city within the capital city. The place where we were to spend the next 13yrs of our lives, later joined in by my siblings.
My parent's next mission..getting me in to a school. The search ended with the only convent in the area. St. Johns'.
I don't remember the initial feeling about the school. As I was from a Hindi medium so far, the transition was going to be just a bit tough. I don't think I had any idea how to go about it. A problem indeed, as it is even today and I think will continue to be as is with all kids who land up being in that situation. As my luck determined it to be..the next thing I knew, I was in the company of some fantastic Teachers. From then on the next years that I were to be there, were one of the best era of my life.
I think I was enjoying it the city more with new friends and an awesome family out of my initial habitat. How quickly the years went by, was a mesmerizing surprise. My Parents were keen on getting me in to a new School for some time. They finally decided it was time. Seven yrs later the winters were just moving out and so was I. The year was 1992 and I wasn't liking it. The thought of leaving the School never crossed my mind till that time. It was hard to say no to Parent' in those years. So, practically I had no choice but...obey. 
My Father arranged for a person to pick me up to visit another reputed School in South-Delhi, out of Mehrauli. I got it that from now on my means of travel were going to be another specialty of Delhi, the DTC buses. I guess my seat was already arranged for in this school, since all the time that visit looked nothing more than a mere formality meeting with the Principal there. I..wasn't amazed. I somehow was able to convince my Parents for another School' admission test. How did I do that and what happened in that test is a different story, may be another post :) ..back to my first School' story!
The parting with the School didn't hurt much. Or at least that' what I thought at that time. From my then Principal shifting his base back to America and a couple of small advancements in the School, there were very few updates that rested on my ears for the years after I left. My closest of friends left the town..some for boarding Schools and some because their family decided to move. Very rarely I would meet a few of my old Teachers on my way back to home from my new School. Moving out of that School, I just had a couple of friends who later joined me in my new School and a sound foundation of values/virtues and etiquette. The latter still accompanying me as of the day of writing this post and I am sure will continue the journey with me.
Why I never visited the School later is still a surprise to me. If there was any particular reason, I surely do not remember. A few more years down the line, my Father was provided with a Govt. residence..and we moved out of Mehrauli! Any visits that I had to the place were either at odd hours or on holidays, so there was no chance of visiting the School anyway. All I could do on a couple of instance was have a view from the outside. By all means the infrastructure seemed like changing. Expanding or just being within itself, I didn't know.
All these visits were in the last century. The 19 hundreds.....
The current century saw me grow first as a Graduate and then a Post Graduate in Computers, later to be what I am now..a Software Engineer. The wish to visit the School and meet the Teachers growing stronger and stronger each passing year.
I didn't know but the wish was to be true, soon...
Just a few days before, I had to meet a Friend for some work. We decided to meet at the Qutub Minar, which also happens to be at the outskirts of Mehrauli. How I couldn't be in Mehrauli if I was this close. Qutub parking was the best place for my car to rest as my legs started covering the distance to the inside of the place. "Nothing has changed", I told myself. Its been years so I wanted to visit a few places in there, especially all the houses I resided in once and the famous markets. But, it had to be the School first.
I decided to take the back route which goes trough the bus terminal. The bus terminal hasn't changed a bit. The first turn and I see the Temple in there. Still there since as far as I could remember. I remember visiting the same on numerous occasions with my friends while at School. The back of this Temple touched my School' boundary wall. I bowed my head in front of the temple and with crossed fingers I took the turn to move closer to the School' entrance. It was a Saturday, and I just wasn't sure if it would be open. It never has been whenever I visited it last times. But hey, that was some 12+ years back.
St John' Mehrauli

Hoping my prayers would be answered, I took the next turn to see the small mosque still there. I think the only place where I see both religion exist..peacefully and quietly. Moving some 20 steps I was in front of the School main gate.
"Lucky day" was my next expression within. Seems my prayers were answered. The School was well open..it was rather crowded. Upon inquiring I was told there is some campaign. Campaign?? The only external visits I knew of in my time were some docs who just for fun used to inject us with some precautionary meds in our times. Anyway, the good news for me was that the School was open and there was still time before it will close for the week.
I decided I will take a small tour around Mehrauli on foot till the staff finishes up with the Campaign..or what ever it was. I looked at my watch and off. I think I went around for an hour and a half before deciding to arrive back at the School, just in time. The visiting Bus and cabs were leaving, the main door/gate of the School was bigger than I could remember. I could peek a boo of the inside of the School as the bus was coming out of the main entrance. For whatever I could see behind the bus there a moment when I was a kid in the backyard.
The School was a complete change to what I imagined in all these years. Before I could realize I was walking within the School premises.
March 1992 was the last time I was inside the Schools. The number of years since then was reflecting the way the School was portrayed now. A complete change to the what ever I could recollect. The security guard was smart enough to notice my presence in between all the movement and before I could digest the look in front of my eyes, he was there asking me of what I wanted. I asked him if i could meet a person who used to be in the admin staff during my time in School. He didn't answer me, but headed straight back in to the building. I could imagine he didn't know anyone by the name I just told him. It was 20yrs and I didn't expect any Teachers I was once so familiar with. I turned my back to the way he went to and started starring at the four floor building, remembering the 4-5 rooms view I was so used to. I realized I was standing on a concrete floor. It used to be full of sand and if I was imaging correctly, from where I stood I could touch the then stationed swing which me and my friends were so fond of. We always made sure no one apart from use cold be on it during the lunch break. Any extension of arms in the present would only have fetched me some funny glances in case some was looking at me. 
I was completely lost when the security guard I had almost forgotten about, fetched a man from the inside. I just turned back on the sound, but it seemed like I turned back 20 yrs in time. The man was one of my Teacher way back then. He still looked the same. A mere introduction to him by my name was enough to tell him who I was. It was surprising he still remembered me, by the name at least if not by my face, which was rather obvious. I talked to him for around half an hour on where I was these years. He took me around the School to let me see how much it has changed. Finally taking me to a lady Teacher who taught me in my initial days in the School. It was hard she could remember me, but was surprised when I told her I remember her. On telling her a bit of details about me, she could recollect me and my then friends group.
The next thing I felt like I was still a kid in her class. She took my hand to take me to meet all the new Teachers exclaiming 'He is Milind, one of the fellows I taught very early in this School some 20+ yrs back..he has grown much taller to me and is a Software Engineer now...'
During all this introduction time all I could do was stand there speechless...unaware of the expressions I was wearing and looking at one of the first Teachers, who taught me, be proud in introducing me. It was that moment I realized how much I missed this School. She is just the same as all Teachers were back then...caring like Mothers and taking the utmost care required of each of the pupil.
Thought of the day..still there

The School, as was evident, changed completely for the exteriors. What existed inside in the roots is still the same. The boundaries still encompasses in them the same virtues and high values that people like me carry out with them in the outer world.
I wasn't lucky to meet more Teachers that day but a couple of whom I met were surprised that I still remember the names of all the Teachers who taught me. For Students to remember and recognize their Teachers is a common thing. For Teachers to be able to remember some students is a miracle. I witnessed one that day and was rather fortunate to have done so!!
The rest of the couple of hours till I got back to my car were like I was still in the School, a kid of old times.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Google Starts Ice Cream Sandwich Rollout

Nexus S on ICS
As a proud Nexus S owner I am a fan of what Google has been able to with Android since thier acquisition back in 2005. With the release of Galaxy Nexus and the newest version of Android, I am looking forward to taste the new dessert Android has this time. Every other day I am on Google searching for some news of an over-the-air update of 2.3.x on my current phone to 4.0.x

The word is here.. Google has started rolling out the Android 4.0 (aka Ice Cream Sandwich) update to the GSM Nexus S. The update as we all know was highly anticipated since Google introduced the new Android version and its new features. The official word on the update release comes just a day after the Galaxy Nexus (world' first phone on Android 4.0) was made available in the US.
The news was available on the official 'Google Nexus' Twitter account:
Ice Cream Sandwich Update to Nexus S
The update as obvious would be over the coming month and was started on Dec 16. We are also aware that the Galaxy Nexus (latest in the Nexus line) has already got one OTA (over-the-air) update for a few bug fixes. More could be read on this here. It may be noted that this update is was versioned 4.0.2. 
The news was available on Googlel+ official account of AndroidThe version available for the GSM Nexus S will be 4.0.3. The bad news is that the CDMA Nexus S (Sprint' Nexus S 4G) will have to wait a little longer for the update as there is no official word about this version from Google, but all indications are that it won't be too long.
The update is to be made available as an OTA, so you can either manually check your phone or wait for the notification pop-up to appear. However, if your patience has run thin then you will be glad to know that the ICS ROM is available for download and install manually for those who know what they are doing (do at your own risk as you may be required to root your phone, which s not a good idea if you would like to keep the warranty on your phone intact). If you want to find out how to do that, click here to read on details. Again, please do it at your own risk.
As for the changes that you will see with this update, here is a quick look:
App upgrades
You will have some surprises with the way your phone' apps will work now. The app developer' are working to release new version of their respective apps since the release of Galaxy Nexus. Be patient and look out for these points:
  • To use Adobe Flash with Android 4.0, first update it to the latest version
  • You will need to update most of your apps to their latest version before they could work with Android 4.0
  • For connecting your phone to a Mac via USB, you will first need to install the File Transfer app on your Mac. Use this link to know how to.
Home Screens
As you are supposedly updating from Gingerbread (Android 2.3.x) to ICS (Android 4.0), there will be some changes to how the new Home screen and some functions will work. Google has set up a page for users with Tips on the new transition. Here is the link

Lock Screen
The way you answer or reject a call has changed. To answer a call, now drag the lock icon to the right. Here is more detail on this.

Swipes
Swipes are to be noted especially. Make sure you know what left-right swipes do. For example you  should be able to swipe sideways to:
  • Dismiss notifications
  • dismiss recent app thumbnails
  • navigate through you email messages in your inbox
  • check on your recent G+ notifications
Screenshots made easy
You are now able to take the screenshots from your phone without the help of any app. Press power button and the volume(down) button simultaneously. What' more is that the screenshot is saved automatically. Now just click on the screenshot icon in the notification bar and you will be able to see the screenhot that you just took. Easy!

I am sure the update would be as tasty as the Ice Cream Sandwich itself is. I too am looking for my Nexus S to receive the OTA, hopefully it will be soon enough as my patience is low on this and frankly I would not like to do rooted install of the update.
Have fun and let me know how you liked the new Android version once you have tasted it!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Oh you Smart-Phone!

Remember the days when you were without a cell phone. Peaceful isn't it :-p. So, once you were out of your home parents couldn't track you, and after a tiring day there was no girl friend disturbance after you landed back in the boundaries of your sweet sweet home ;). Some might disagree..I agree to their disagreement as well !!
So while you thought it worked the best possible way, someone just wasn't happy with it. They decided it was time to destroy the dreamy environment that you lived in and give you a trouble...and there were the tracking devices called cell phones. Then, as you somehow handled (or rater tried to handle) the new trouble in your life..someone again out smarted your thoughts and introduced a more advanced version..in came today' smart-phones. 
I possess one myself and frankly can't do without it in my normal day-to-day life. A dependency I am happily living with. Before you start throwing tantrums and sending abusing comments here is what this post is all about....
Introduction and popularity of smart-phones is a good enough reason to be happy for some, and a good enough reason to be "more" happy for others. If you possess a smart-phone like I do (mine is Nexus S, by the way) and you haven't been visiting Mars in the last fortnight, you probably already have heard about the waves Carrier IQ is creating since the news of it's rootkit tracking (or as most people put it... "spying") the smart-phone user' activity (each of them) broke on every possible blog and site you may have heard that publishes these kind of news.

In case you do not know, here is a fill up for you:
Carrier IQ is a company based in Mountain View, California and provides mobile analytic services for smart-phones to the wireless industry. It came in to picture just a few days back when one of the Android security researcher, Trevor Eckhart, discovered Carrier IQ software on one of the smart-phones that he was using. No problem, I say! The problem and a rather alarming one was that this software was collecting data right from the device' location, to the application installed in it and even (take a deep breath) the key strokes performed on the device. 
Why is Carrier IQ collecting all of that data? According to them, their software is installed on the devices by the carriers who are interested in getting these statistics to improve the user experience.
Now this may be "sky is falling" for some of you out there and may be nothing for others. Its ok if you got a little uncomfortable and curious after the news broke. The next think I did was to search the net to see if there is a way by which I could find if my phone has one (obvious haan!). Much to my dismay there was no app available in the android market at that time. I did, however, find some news on detecting the Carrier IQ but that involved rooting my smartphone..which I wasn't comfortable with.
I did see a few pages/articles/blogs which mentioned Google confirming that the Nexus line of phones (which includes mine) are free from Carrier IQ. That in itself was a calm-er.
Anyway, for those who are still uncomfortable about all this fuss around Carrier IQ, here is a good news. An android app is now available in android market that could tell you if your phone is carrying Carrier IQ or not. Its called 'Voodoo Carrier IQ detector'. At the time of writing this post, it's still in the development phase but is being updated very frequently so we should have some pretty reliable results in no time. I have tried this application myself and below is the result:
Nexus S, running Gingerbread 2.3.6 (No Carrier IQ)
Vodoo Carrier IQ detector
The app already has some 2K plus installs and has a 4.7 avg rating. For those interested here is the QR to the android market install page. Use your smartphone' camera and a QR reader app (as you may already know). 

More links for your read:
1. Carrier IQ, What it means to you !
2. Block Carrier IQ on iPhone (earlier ones) ! 
3. Should you worry? (One of my best ones in the list)
4. What does it do on my Phone? 
5. Apple says no more!

Some apps, that I found afterwards, that could tell you if Carrier IQ is installed on your smart-phone or not:
1. Lookout Labs (Seems most reliable and user friendly at present) 
2. Trevor Eckhart also developed one

Feel free to contribute more links, I will be glad to add them to this list for the benefit of others.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Diwali to Thanks-Giving

For an eight post and a few months old blog, its enough flattery that I am being constantly asked for when the next post is coming. So the first question I am obliged to answer is where I have been since my last post that was some 50 days back. The answer is, just here! I decided to dedicate a post just to sum things up since my last interaction with you all on this platform. The presence on the virtual world have been as much as it has been in the past, though I have been just a touch away from my blogging habit.
So, in between a couple of nails puncturing my car wheel and a stupid driver making sure my car needed it's first visit to the body-shop department with the SX4' fourth anniversary just close-by, there was enough to do during the festival days.

Diya made out of thermocol beads
Apart from my car not able to celebrate the festival of lights with me, the celebration and the festivities were so much engaging. The decorations in the office and the environment for a couple of days was more of an enjoyment than tiredness. It was nice to be decorating the new building that we shifted in around a couple of months back. A sample of what I contributed is on the right :) 
I couldn't realize how much my car has been involved in my day to day life, not till the accident took place. Luckily, me and my colleague accompanying me didn't had any impact. My car had to be in the body-shop for a few days though, and that was for sure the moment I stepped out to have a look at the impact point. The rest of the days till I got the car back were going to be a little troublesome. 

With Diwali next day, the shopping and gift distribution took nearly double the time as it normally would. At the body-shop they told me it would take around a couple of weeks for the insurance formalities and the repair work to be done. Diving in to a loong weekend gave a bit of respite from travelling and I knew it will have to be the all famous auto rickshaws that will be giving me the ride once the weekend and festival gets over and I am back to my home-office-home routine.
For Diwali, this time, I decided a little more than usual light-cover for my house. And with my better half asking (more of a command ;) ) the same, I couldn't afford another thought on this!
On the right is a sneak peak for you of how the exterior looked like after the lights were installed and functioning. The lights that you see on top of the big tree should look awesome but were as hard to put that  way as you could imagine. That's a guava tree by the way and the fruits on it are usually very sweet, barring a couple of exception when I am not as patient to let them grow big enough. The hard work was paid as the final look (as seen in this pic) was worth a watch. The people passing by during the late evening and night hours couldn't afford not to be jealous of the view. I decided to leave it through for five rather than 3 days :)!

The next two weeks following the Diwali break, were not so comfortable with the auto rickshaw as my ride on my way to office. Got a feel of how much my car has been a part of my day to day life and how much have I been dependent on it for the past nearly 4yrs since I bought my priced possession. Two weeks and my little beauty was back with me and my daily ease just seemed to have come back. Now, I wasn't thinking twice to go out.

During the festive season it was so much fun out there in the markets. The same kind was out there in other parts of the world as my close friends started sharing the the news/pictures of how it was getting on with Thanks-Giving approaching soon. It's always fascinating to read stories about how crazy people could be during these days when its such a fun not only to roam around in the streets but to shop with all sorts of discounts available. And, there are the big guns in the market who love to be in news during these festive times. So we had Apple coming out with a new version of their iPhone and Google announcing a new version of their OS plus a new phone to accompany the mystery. 

One of my friend forwarded a link which had the account of 2 friends who were queuing in front of an Apple store to be the first to take the new version of iPhone 4S. So they were there all day and all night long for quite a number of days and on top were blogging on their websites while being there. Crazy or what !!!!!!! I remember I was in US during the launch of first iPhone...wasn't as much craze then. I agree you got to give it to Apple there.

On the same talks, being a Nexus S owner myself, I am also waiting for the new android version upgrade available for my smart phone. Sadly its been a long wait already as I was thinking it would come by Thanks-Giving. But the latest that I hear is that Google has started the ICS (Android 4.0) dogfooding. Cnet confirms the reports and so does android policeHopefully, I won't have to wait till next year for the upgrade.

With October a big celebration month in here, November and December are made sure the tempo is kept up. Q4 anyway has been very very up, take your pick on 'what'. As for me, since I changed my employer last year..Q4 has been a little relaxing. From what I hear from my ex-colleagues in that company, it's still the same. Hopefully with the last month of the quarter and this year already on its roll, I hope the hectic season comes to an end for all of them. Since I have been part of that group for quite long, I know how hard it goes down there as this festive season picks up. The amount of work that goes in the background is amazingly huge and tiring.
Before I close this post, as a Thanks-Giving note all all my friends, co-workers (current or past) and everybody else.. Thanks for making the world a better place to live in!!

Just as a note, in case you guys haven't noticed. Each of my posts now accompany a 'ApnaCircle' (AC) share button at the end of each of them. Have fun sharing :)

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