Monday, December 29, 2008

The Inevitable Aftermath

Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27-year-old Brazilian was gunned down by police men in the aftermath of the July 7 bombings. Jean had tried to run from the police and was unarmed.

Mohammed Mukarram Pasha, a 19-year-old first year B.Com student of Bangalore's Baldwin Methodist's College was fatally shot by the Army guards in the aftermath of the Mumbai mayhem. Mukarram had tried to flee from the army camp and was unarmed.

There are a lot of similarities between the two incidents. Armed authorities had taken extreme measures, something they would have normally avoided otherwise. Both incidents have taken place in the aftermath of terrorist attacks. It is a time when authorities prefer to put a bullet, instead of apprehending a suspect.

Mukarram had entered the Flag Staff House by jumping the compound wall, fleeing from the police. He was only guilty of drag racing and trespassing, as claimed by the police. However, when he ignored the army guards’ warnings and tried to flee from the army camp, he was fatally shot at and was declared dead on arrival by the doctors at the St Philomena's Hospital.

People close to Mukarram are seething with anger, accusing the army guards of being trigger happy. They argue that with six guards, they could have easily apprehended Mukarram instead of shooting at him.

Ironically, this incident has taken place hours after the Home Guards in Bangalore organized a rally to mark 'National Disaster Reduction Day' on Sunday, asking citizens to play a role in securing the city.

Do you think that the army guards were well within their rights to shoot or could they have shown some restraint? Should the guard who shot Mukarram be court marshalled?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A font for the Eco-conscious!

Here’s a website offering a font that helps save ink. Please follow this link:

SPRANQ has come up with this unique, innovative product. This font was developed based on a hunch of Colin Willems of SPRANQ.

The font is known as Ecofont and uses up to 20% less ink when compared to other fonts.

In the picture you can see how the Ecofont is created by omitting parts of the letter. At the shown size, this obviously is not very nice, but at a regular font size it is actually very usable. Naturally, the results vary depending on your software and the quality of your screen. The Ecofonts works best for OpenOffice, AppleWorks and MS Office 2007. Printing with a laser printer will give the best printing results.

The Ecofont is based on the Vera Sans, an Open Source letter, and is available for Windows, Mac OSX and Linux. The Ecofont works best when using font size 9 or 10. The results vary depending on your software. If you work on a Windows platform you could use ClearType.

This font is available for free download. Saving the toner used in ink cartridges is another small way in which we can give something back to the environment. I have marked the editorial team on this.

You can download this font for free at the Ecofont website:

Source: Ecofont

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Childhood Treasures

A pencil box, a geometry box and my favorite Hero fountain pen. These were my most prized possessions. Apart from these, Natraj pencils (good for drawing), Apsara pencils (good for writing), a green ink rubber, a sharpener, a blade for sharpening pencils (in case the sharpener did not work) and of course the white pencil rubber. I wouldn’t leave home without these.

Back those days, there were two kinds of students. Ones’ who would bring all the above mentioned items (pencils sharpened, pens filled with ink) and the ones’ whose sole purpose would be to borrow all the above said items. Unfortunately, I belonged to the former category. Most of the time, I ended up begging those students to return my stuff back, only to be labeled – stingy.

I used to do my homework religiously, revise and prepare for the lessons everyday. But somehow it did not translate into marks/ranks after the exams. I remained an average student, despite all my hard work. Strangely, I was never a teacher’s pet either.

I was kind of famous though, in my own right. I never used to talk in class. Not even a single word, unless the teacher asked me to read from my book. Snide remarks were passed, when the teacher asked other students to emulate me. I was labeled as a “dumb boy.” I did not bother because I knew they couldn’t be like me.

My record at school was almost clean, except for a couple of incidents. In the first case, I was sitting next to a very talkative student (who was also my namesake) and was punished because he was making enough noise for both of us. Even the teachers’ were shocked on hearing this. In the second case, I was punished for sneaking an extra textbook copy of a textbook to a student who had forgotten to bring his own, without the teacher’s permission.

I was below average in sports. My parents were very obliging (at that time I was their only kid and was pampered a lot, until my brother came along) and got me a doctor’s certificate declaring my inability to participate, the cause would be somehow different ever year. Funny no one noticed it though.

This would pretty much sum up my childhood in a nutshell. On a second thought, the trend pretty much sums up my life till now.


What a waste!

I wish that I was a naughty boy who would forget his homework, borrow stuff from other students, play pranks, get punished a lot, talk in class (especially with the girls), excel in sports, bully other’s.

With the knowledge of knowing what I am now, I wish I could go back in time and change who I was.

I could have been someone else.

But, I guess I will never get to find out.

I also promise that I will not write another post that will contain so many repetitions of the alphabet ‘I’ (29 in all).

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Scarlet Dreams Come True!

A mention of the word “Ferrari” would conjure up unimaginable fantasies in my mind as a 13 year old, sitting glued to the television set, home work lying unfinished. I was an ardent fan of Michael Schumacher and would listen in awe as my seniors at school would describe the legendary scraps Michael had with Aryton Senna. I guess, that was the time when I lost interest in comic superheroes and adopted my first real life superhero as an Idol.

Riding a bicycle to school was no longer a routine. It was a race, and I learnt a lot from watching Formula One. Looking back now, it would seem kiddish. Creeping up on a Bajaj scooter, on my bicycle; imitating the slipstream overtaking maneuver. Locking up my bicycle tires at the street corner’s, inviting angry stares from others around as there was no need for me to brake so hard. Did I forget to mention drag racing?

Being an ardent fan of motorsport, I was elated when I found out that Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo had announced that the Tata brand would appear on the Formula 1 cars in 2009.

If Vijay Mallya’s foray into Formula 1 was historic, then this is truly groundbreaking. However I did come across certain articles that lamented the state of Formula 1 (especially that of the Ferrari’s) to have a cheap car manufacturer sponsor one of the leading teams. That did really leave a sad aftertaste.

I guess the Indian stereotype is gradually being broken down. There is nothing that we can’t do, just like everyone else. People just need to accept the reality. The reality that is staring right in your face is that we are about to overtake China in terms of population and it will be inevitable that we would eventually be a part of every sphere. You just cant ask a country (with a population of billion plus) to sit tight and do nothing. It is impossible.

Its about time our dreams come true!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sayonara Honda

Honda’s has pulled the plug on its Formula One racing program. The company said that the global recession and its impact on the automotive industry had left the company with no choice but to withdraw from Formula One.

Takeo Fukui, President and CEO, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. made the announcement on December 5, 2008. He also indicated that the Honda team is for sale.

Honda’s ‘Earth Dreams’ has come to an end (hopefully for now).

What is more intriguing is the statement made by the FIA president Max Mosley who quoted saying that the Formula One teams are run by technicians who are better off playing video games. He made all the right noises about reducing the spiraling costs and also predicted the end of Formula One racing if his advice was not taken seriously.

Formula One and cost cutting do not gel together. They make F1 look pedestrian. Apart from the Big Two teams who have bottomless pockets to dip into, other teams are on a knife edge. Cost cutting measures would widen the gap between the have’s and the have not’s. The past two years have been close only because the Big Two have managed to continue development in spite of all the restrictions. If one takes them out of the equation, there would be no difference between a vintage car rally and Formula One.

Formula One is and should always be the pinnacle of motoring sport where cutting edge technology and speed are on proud display. It is the ultimate bragging right for the car manufacturers. But with all these cost cutting measures and restrictions, who would want to race in it?

Recession is hurting many teams and with this in mind, the F1 boss should put Formula One on hold until the teams tide it out. How noble would that be? But who would want to kill the golden goose? They would rather see F1 cars puttering round a track at 60mph (that would where all these cost cutting measures and restrictions would lead to).

However, I have a question. What will happen when the goose stops laying golden eggs?