Saturday, January 31, 2009

Veteran Comedian Nagesh passes away

Nagesh passed away today. I came to know of the news only in the evening when Suji called to tell me. T.V channels in the South were already telecasting the news of his death. To me Nagesh was, is and will be THE GREATEST comedian ever. Jerry Lewis was Nagesh's idol but as veteran comedienne Manorama was speaking today Nagesh did what Jerry Lewis couldn't. Nagesh to me was the pinnacle of comedy acting. His performance in the Tamil movie "Thiruvilayaadal" is the one I still watch and I have lost count of how many times I have watched those scenes. Such is his performance in the role of Dharumi in the movie. He could perform with a natural zeal and talent that was beyond absolute professionalism and like Chandrababu he had a flexible body and was adept at dancing too. Simply put Nagesh is un-replaceable. Nagesh acted in over 1000 films.

Besides comedy Nagesh did attempt serious roles too. Some of these are "Engal Vaadhiyaar" in Tamil and "Valarthu Mrigangal" in Malayalam. There are also some stellar comedy films that aren't as popular as the ones he is usually known for and these are "Veetukku Veedu", "Ninaivil Nindraval" and "Thenmzahi" though "Thenmazhai" is the most popular of the three. Another film is "Adhrishtakaaran" though I haven't seen it.

It is also worthy of mention that Hindi comedian Mehmood (or directors that used Mehmood) used several of Nagesh's films such as "Server Sundaram" and "Thenmazhai" to make a name for himself in the north.

Veteran actor Kamal Hassan was in awe of Nagesh and held him in very high esteem and tried to include the comedy legend in as many movies of his as possible. Nagesh was last seen in Kamal's "Dasavatharam".

He will be missed. May his soul rest in peace.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Being a part of a Historic event - Iron Maiden's Somewhere Back in Time World Tour

One of the biggest concert tours in History is underway as Iron Maiden performs world wide as part of their Somewhere Back in Time World Tour performing their big hits from the 80's. The first leg was kicked off with a concert in Bombay in 2008 and in its concluding phase the band performs a concert on February 15'th at Bangalore where 60,000 tickets are for sale. I have already booked mine and Binny's but they need to be reedemed for the actual tickets at the venue. One of the concerts in March has already been sold out and most of them that have concluded were also completely sold out.

Here is a picture of the Boeing 757 leased out to the band for their tour. (Picture Courtesy -

Complete details of the tour, song list for the shows, ticket sales, venues etc are on Wikipedia.

Unlike my friend Tee Pee I am not a hard core Iron Maiden fan but I am going to the concert for one song of theirs that I think is one of the greatest heavy metal songs ever made, "Alexander the Great". Another song is "Seventh son of a Seventh son". Though they don't feature in the list I only pray they sing them.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Meen Curry (the unconventional one)

This post goes out to one of my dedicated readers and someone who besides her busy schedule does a fair bit of cooking and runs a cooking blog at Newton's kitchen.

This recipe is different from the conventional fish curry served with "kappa" (Tapioca) in Kerala in that that coconut is used. The preperation is simple.

I am not good at writing recepies and so I assume you keep an estimated quantity of the ingredients.

Ingredients -

1. Fish (preferably Ayla - don't know its English name)) but avoid the more bony ones.

A note about preparing fish. Remove scales, fins including the tail fin. Inspite of the popular belief that the head of the fish is the most tastiest (probably it was falsely propogated so that people don't dispose of the head) many do away with the head. An alternative method is to remove the eyes and some other head elements not suited for cooking and retain the head portion. Best to ask elders as they are adept at preparing fish. Finally wash the fish well and mix Turmeric powder (a small quantity). Turmeric helps in destroying any poisonous elements in food.

2. Spices - Ginger, Chilly powder, Corriander powder.

3. Shredded coconut

4. Salt to taste.

And before I forget, try and get this one, the traditional "MeenChatti". We managed to get one from Chalakudy on our recent trip to Kerala.

The Process:

Boil water in the chatti. To the boiling water add the prepared fish. To it add Turmeric Powder (you may minimise if you have already added enough while preparing the fish explained earlier), Chilly powder, Corriander powder and salt. After 5 minutes when the mix is boiling add the tamarind juice. Set the cooking heat to low.

Meanwhile prepare a paste from shredded coconut(half a coconut) and ginger (a small piece).

To the cooking fish when it is cooked (10 minutes, fish cook very fast), add the coconut paste. Then let boil for another 2-3 minutes. In another vessel (Kadai) add about 3 teapoons of coconut oil and fry minced small onions till they turn golden brown. Now add some Curry leaves and add this mix to the boiling curry in the meen chatti. Stir and let cool.

Fish curry gets better with time and so what you cook today will taste better tomorrow and even more better after two days. Due to the tamarind added the curry can also last longer when refrigerated. Fish curry is also good for the heart unlike fried fish that contributes to bad cholestrol. But you could also cook fish in another unique Kerala method that is perfect for the heart. That in another post.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Was skipping Chaithu's annual day function for Opeth, worth it?

In fact if there is going to be another rock concert at the O.A.T. I.I.T Madras, I will not be going for it and wasting my time and money. I say this with over decades of experience of having been to shows there and all for this one reason - THE AUDIO SUCKS. The O.A.T is acoustically superb but it is the poor electronics that sucks and it sucks real bad. It is a pity that after years of being a "technology" institute the people behind such shows cannot fix this.

True I have been to great concerts with great sound there but many professional shows like this Rock Show just suck. Opeth was such a good band. I only wished they had performed elsewhere like in Bangalore where they have the right infra-structure to take care of such events. JethroTull in 1991 was fantastic but then again they hadn't performed at the O.A.T.

All you could hear in the Opeth's performance was thundering bass. I wonder if anyone could hear the keyboards. The lead guitarist barely audible and so was the lead singer's voice (though a good time was spent growling) and his guitar. Opeth could sway from complex rythms, hard riffs to lovely melodies. It was the melodies that gave me a break from the overdose of bass from the bassist and the very talented drummer. Here is one of their songs on YouTube (not recorded at the O.A.T). It was one of the songs you could enjoy listening to at Saarang, 2009.

Two other bands opened for Opeth. Demonic Resurrection (poor name for a band) from Bombay who also drowned their songs in bass. Their drummer was good too.

The only respite was Mother Jane who struck a chord with the audience with some catchy numbers. Brilliant solos and Carnatic licks on the lead guitar was welcomed by the audience. I was surprised how only their sound, sounded so clear inspite of hardly any tuning. But as they continued singing their vocalist grew stale on me.

So in the end did I miss Chaithu's annual day celebrations? Not really. I am going to watch it on DVD anyway.

I made friends with two headbangers, Vasanth and Siddharth who provided good company. Vasanth has already purchased tickets for the Iron Maiden concert in Feb. What am I wasting time for? Shouldn't I head to the place where concerts sound best.

Friday, January 23, 2009

If you have wrist pain or suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome problems using the computer mouse

If you ask me one of the worst inventions of science and technology is the computer mouse. It was probably designed with hardly any consideration of the effects it would have on the human wrist and fingers. I have hated it and still do.

Having a small wrist I used to develop pains using the regular mouse. If you are like me, internet savvy and spend hours with your computer I highly recommend the following that will keep your wrist and fingers pain free after repeated mouse usage. Actually my wrists used to hurt real bad after playing computer games. Recently my index finger hurt so bad that I had difficulty even holding my toothbrush.

In the past I found the alternative in the following trackball.

The one pictured above was my second and would use it whenever I developed pain in my wrist. Luckily I hadn't dumped it. It was there lying in a cupboard. All I had to do was clean it and hook it up via USB. Windows XP comes with the built in drivers. Not sure if it is still being sold and in India but if you do get it in the U.S I am sure it must be selling very cheap. Go for it by all means.

However the best trackball out there is the Kensington Expert Mouse which as of this writing even has a wireless model. Pricy but worth every penny. I know someone who swears by it and has never used the regular mouse in his life.

With a trackball -
a. You don't have to constantly keep your hand, wrist and fingers in that most uncomfortable manner on your regular mouse. Most trackballs even come with a detachable wrist rest pad as pictured above.
b. A big ball helps you excercise your hand while moving your mouse pointer. You can use one or more fingers to move the ball smoothly.
c. You can use either the index finger or the thumb to click. Even if you use the forefinger to click you don't have to position it in the way you use a regular mouse. This is the No.2 reason why your forefinger can develop acute pain. The No.1 being clicking and dragging which can also be easliy done using your thumb on the left button and the forefinger or any other fingers on the trackball.
d. The colored button in the middle is the equivalent of the scroll wheel when depressed. You can then use the trackball to scroll pages up or down. Click the button again to release the lock.

Other settings that greatly reduce your usage with the mouse/trackball are these -

1. Big cursors or Chunky mouse pointers. The small default white pointer can become very tiresome. Go in for a bigger cursor. They are available for free from and installing them is a breeze. Simply move the unzipped foldger containing your pointers to the Windows\Cursors folder. Then open Control Panel -> Mouse and under the Pointers tab search for your desired mouse pointer from the recently added folder.

2. Under the Pointer Options increase your mouse pointer speed by sliding the slider in the Select Pointer speed bar and slide it towards faster positions.

3. Use this gem of a program from It is free. It is called Edgeless and it will change the way you move your mouse. No need to drag the mouse or turn your trackball to move the cursor from one end of the screen to the other. Just take it beyond the edge of your screen and it will wrap around the edge and appear at the opposite corner of your screen. Best of it all it can move not only vertically and horizontally but diagonally too. It may take time to get used to it but once you master it there's no looking back. You will realise that each time you plan to move the mouse a good deal you can use Edgeless to map the shortest route movement. Actually doing this will save you a ton of unnecessary mouse movement.

The only "con" about the trackball is that you need to clean the ball and the contact points regularly as it is in constant contact with your hand. However in the Kensington model you need to worry less because it is optical.

4. Use keyboard keys as much as possible instead of mouse keys.
a. The Enter key on an enabled button instead of clicking using the mouse.
b. Page-up, Page-down, arrow, Ctrl+Home, Ctrl+End, Home, End and tab keys to scroll pages, position cursors, jump menu options, fields and buttons whenever possible.
c. Using Alt-File to select options from most programs to save and Exit programs.
d. Use Alt-Tab to switch programs on the computer.
e. Use the Windows button to lauch programs, get back to your desktop (Windows+D) etc.
f. Some keyboards offer buttons for surfing pages and executing programs too. Use them instead of the mouse.

Some speech recognition programs offer services like invoking programs, converting speech to text and are used by people with Carpal Tunnel syndrome. You may want to check them too although I wouldn't recommend them unless you have an acute problem.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A meeting with Old friends

It was a great feeling to be with Vizualites once again. Most of them continue to work for Vizual. A few had moved on to other companies. It was Ebenezer Deepak's wedding with Reena at the St. George's cathedral on Cathedral Road, Chennai. The last time I had been there was for the marriage of my collegemate Johann Christian Prasanna in the early 90's.

Anyway it was a great feeling meeting many old friends. Here are few pics I managed to take. Check the slide show here.

America's proud moment

History was made yesterday when America saw their first African American president take oath and office. After taking his Oath, Barack Obama delivered one of the finest speeches ever by an American President. The event was watched by millions around the globe. Extempore and coming straight from the heart a confident Obama delivered a speech that was precise, persuasive, accomodative and extremely impressive. TV channels were replaying the speech over and over again and others were analysing the statements he made.

Filled with so much of hope let us wait and see how much of what his campaign promised delivers. I pray God be by him and his efforts.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I am going to brag a bit

My father S.K.Pati worked at the I.I.T Madras for over three decades as a Civil Engineer. When he retired he held the post of Assistant Executive Engineer. I always thought he wanted me to become an Engineer as well but somehow the engineering "gene" seemed to be passed on only to my younger brother who went on to become an Industrial and Production Engineer. However it was little sister that actually inherited Acchan's engineering skills when it came to building homes. Purely self-taught Suji has modified one home and contructed another three homes almost all by herself including one in Toronto, Canada. I write "almost" because the one in Toronto was built based on an original plan by the builder but it was fully customized by her. Unfortunately she had to sell it even before occupying it. It sold in record time and to the vert first buyer who came to see it. The second was our parents' home in Velachery and the third her own home in Thoraipakkam, Chennai. And because she hasn't studied architecture she gets the architect to make the drawings of the structure after planning it and doing the basic drawing herself (which I guess she will be doing it herself in the future). The rest of the entire construction, every inch of the land, and house was on her. Everything from choice of colors, dealing with the labourers, checking out the funrnishings, decorating and beautifying, "alles" was done by her. Some of the furniture was designed by her too. As for her Thoraipakkam home she tells me that this was only a very simple plan and that she has only started furnishing the home. I wonder what her other creations will be. She also tells me that there are numerous faults in the construction though I can make out only a few. Check out pictures from the "Suji's Home" album at My Pictures on the sidebar.

Though she hasn't yet thought of a career using her skill (I have been pushing her) she has been doing some free consultations for friends. If you need to contact her for consultations let me know at subashsl(at)gmail(dot)com.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Our latest pup

Also picked up from the streets, this one would have died if we hadn't rescued it. Badly bitten on one ear and near the tail she was running after anyone for food. She was weak and shaking. Now a healthy pup we've kept her for two weeks. Blue cross should come and pick her up soon. She is more active and intelligent than the first one we rescued.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Another quality product

The Canon EOS 500 film camera was my second SLR. I used to own a Russian Zenit that had the infamous Zeiss lens. I purchased the Canon in 1997 in Singapore and had been my trusted image-taking companion for over a decade. In 1997 it was advertised as the world's lightest SLR and it came with a 35m-80mm zoom. I later added a mountable flash, some filters and a 75-300mm Ultrasonic zoom. It has served me for over a decade without a hitch. Carelessness of someone with whom I had entrusted the camera for just a couple of minutes caused a crack in the outer glass of the display window on the top. Otherwise the Canon is perfect as it was the first day I received it.

Current Status: Happily donated.

I retained the 75mm-300mm telephoto zoom lens though.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

If your CD's and DVD's you burnt aren't playing in your own drive

I was having these problems recently but I have found out why.

When you burn your CD's or DVD's watch out for the settings, particularly the option that allows you to burn more data later on a write-once CD or DVD if it has space left on the CD/DVD for the same. A burn only once option for a write-only CD/DVD is best.

Another trick on a write-once CD/DVD is to not overburn or burn to full capacity. There are softwares that let you overburn but I wouldn't recommend doing that. Another advantage is when you leave free space preferably 50 MB on a CD or 200 MB on a DVD the outermost areas that aren't burnt will not be affected if they are poorly handled. Fingers touching the outer edges can soil the CD or DVD and can prevent them from being read.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What to do if your camera software does not open while connecting your camera

Actually a better solution exists. As they say necessity is the mother of invention. Someone who invented the memory card reader must have had problems with the software and would have thought of a better idea.

When I was having problems with the software I went and purchased the following SD memory card reader from Zebronics.

This reader can read a variety of memory cards. 4 slots located on either side of the reader lets you read a variety of cards such as SD/MMC, XD, MS/MSPRO and CF/MD. Memory card readers can be read by most modern computers and requires no additional software which means that you can upload images from your camera to any modern PC without installing any software. Moreover if you have more than one Digital camera you do not need to install the various software and drivers for each of your cameras. Just one memory card reader will do. Most software are also bundled with additional image viewing and editing software that just add to the junk on your PC.

Aamir Khan's Ghajini

I went to see "Ghajini" only for Aamir. I cannot help imagine the long route from "Quyamat se Quyamat tak" that the veteran has taken.

The obvious first question, "Was the Hindi remake better?". My answer - an emphatic "No" despite the changes Aamir has made in the final climax and reducing the overall violence. The main reason why I rate the Hindi remake poorer is Asin, Aamir's choice for heroine.

Ok, so the bad things in detail -

1. When I wrote my review of the original Ghajini( two things that really put me off were - 1. The intense violence and 2. Asin's acting particularly in the love scenes.

I remember while watching Quyamat Se Quyamat how sweet Aamir was and how Juhi was literally playing the fool (her entire role was one mad foolish trip) in the movie. In spite of that the talented Aamir was still able to exude his romantic power on screen becoming an overnight teen heart throb. In Ghajini Asin's deliberate introvert attitude doesn't even give him any room to be the romantic he is. I have reserved Asin's acting for another post. So in the end we find a zero-chemistry couple in a film which is supposed to be so full of love and all for and about love. I must say by using Asin and that too a second time a good script and opportunity has been wasted. Aamir could have settled for a zillion new girls instead of Asin.

I don't know what her problem is but Asin HAS a problem when it comes to love scenes or romance. When you see it the first time you think probably the script demanded such an acting. But when it happens again, and again in more than one movie the viewer like me is totally turned-off. Like I mentioned before I will reserve more of this for another post.

Besides these Asin is plumpier, given unnecessary make-up in several scenes and in most of the songs she is only cat-walking while Aamir is serioulsy trying to express his love. It looked outrageously comical. In the songs that are supposed to be "love songs" she is walking hither and thither, holding her hands over her head (really don't know what that move meant) with hardly any feeling for Aamir. In one of the white gowns she is even struggling to walk. But worse was when she confesses her love. It looked idiotic. More idiotic when she starts talking about the 3 Ambassador cars. It was pathetic. I sat there in the Cinema enduring her torture. In her laughing act in the bus the entire cinema was laughing to boo the scene.

2. Stale comedy - For people watching it the first time it might have struck but for those who have already watched the Tamil version it was boring with lines of the script copied everything verbatim. There was delay in dialogue delivery and some of the characters who did well in the original were crap in the Hindi version, like the role of Tinu Anand as the Ad director and the guy whom Asin chooses to imitate Sanjay. Another sad thing of watching the movie in Kerala was that no one was laughing for the jokes.

3. A R Rahman's music - As I write this ARR has already bagged a Golden Globe. But if you ask me Aamir should have simply used Harris Jayaraj and the original songs. Songs are literally crap in the Hindi version. Except for "Lattoo" which is not played/shown in its entirety and the lovely "Kaise Mujhe" sung so well by Benny Dayal. The song where Asin is introduced is a total flop with Asin dancing to "koothu" like beats in an elegant gown. Instead take a look at how Harris Jayaraj's song introduced her in the original version.

and who can forget "Oru Maalai". Aamir could have just dubbed it into Hindi.

4. Aamir's rolled up sleeve in the formal attire didn't look like good costume design. Though Aamir looked older in the formal attire he looked younger and cute in the "toughy" look.

5. Jia Khan's acting in the final scenes where she let's Aamir off loose after the villains could have been avoided.

Some goof-ups:

1. Jia Khan introducing herself as a medical student to Ghajini when the latter had actually come to watch her dance at her college show where she was dancing/singing "Latoo".

2. The cops who capture Aamir from the girls hostel do a thorough investigation and cannot find out who Aamir is?

Next the good things: -

1. The violence has been greatly reduced. Unlike the first one the ending in the Hindi version has been completely changed. The clobbering scene of Asin was what I was dreading to watch but just at the right moment (thanks to the power situation in Kerala) the power goes off at the Aynikkal cinema. But when the power was restored only a fraction of the scene was gone.

2. Aamir's sincere acting. All I can say is that he did his best. The only thing for which the audience were clapping for was when Aamir is introduced, removing his shirt to reaveal his (n) packs etc..

3. Asin, as in the original moved me in the crying/death scenes. Her fear was also enacted well.

4. Jia Khan's "Latoo" song was done well (both dance and song) but unfortunately it isn't shown in its entirety. This song was better than the one in the original.

5. Great Action - full points to the stuntmen.

6. Some scenes that offer clarity like Aamir exercising, what he does when he wakes up etc. I cannot recall them in the original but probably I missed them.

7. And my favorite of them all - The incredible last scene which was used as a closure for the film and its story. It is such a long shot taken (or seemed to be taken) in one continuous take. It was also perfect in expression and I wished Asin could have used that talent in the movie too.

Final verdict - This is certainly a big break for Asin. The character of Kalpana was a prized role and Asin was fortunate to have got it. The role is one where many viewers particularly in the north aren't going to see her defects. However I haven't seen the media report on Asin in the movie. Most of the accolades seems to be going to Aamir who of course is worth of the hard work he puts into each and every movie of his.

Ghajini is turning out to be the biggest grosser ever for an Indian movie. Only goes on to show how movies made in the South really matter. For years Anil Kapoor used remakes of Tamil Movies(Woh Saath Din, Meri Jung, Viraasat, Nayak to name a few) and even one from Telugu (Eswar) to make a name for himself in Bollywood. Jeetendra also successfully used Tamil and Telugu movie remakes. Are we looking at some secret success formula here?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Kerala, the good, bad (no ugly)

My holiday destination for years. Here is what is good and bad for the tourist in Kerala.

First the good things:

1. Water - Probably the no.1 reason why good health and life are supported in the state. I have a friend who did a project in Switzerland who told me that water in public fountains in Switzerland were tested and treated before they are allowed to circulate in the fountains because even if a child were to accidentally consume it, that child shouldn't fall sick. In Chalakudy and in Aratupuzha and in most places in Kerala people, young, adult or old consume water from wells. This water is directly consumed without any treatments such as reverse osmosis, or adding electrolytes or even basic filtering. The reason for jet black long hair of the girls and women, their healthy glowing skin and the longevity of life is enough testimony of the quality of water. Malayalees are known to take multiple baths and I can see the reason why. The irony is that there is water shortages in parts of the state but they are easily tackled as the state is abundant in rivers, lakes, ponds and backwaters (though all backwaters aren't good sources of potable water) providing a good source of drinking water.

And here's something you may not know of the minerals in the state. Remember the periodic table we studied in Chemistry way back in School and remember the Lanthanides and Actinides. I was told by a person whose work is related to soil and research that all the Lanthanides and Actinides of the periodic table exist in the soils of Kerala. Wonder if that is adding to the quality of the water as Iron does to the water in Orissa.

Water in rivers, waterfalls, ponds, lakes and backwaters feed the healthy flora and fauna in the state and adds to its natural beauty. I remember drinking a tender coconut in Aratupuzha and I had to pause and take turns to finish drinking all the water in it. There was so much sweet water in it that it could easily serve and satisfy two adults.

2. Civic Sense - Don't know if it is the by-product of more literacy in the state but there seems to be a sense of "let's-do-things-better" all over the place. It is only getting better each time I visit Kerala. Having traveled a bit this time I was surprised that I couldn't notice even a single pothole on the roads.

3. Great Auto fares - After being ripped off in Chennai (it is even worse in the temple city of Chidambaram) it is such a pleasant thing in Kerala to travel by Auto.

4. Politeness - If you want to hear "Annae" or brother in Chennai forget it. You will have to go far beyond the outskirts to hear the word. I could easily hear "Cheta, Chechi" in most places in Kerala although this wasn't the case in the past where I have had some unfriendly experiences.

5. General congeniality of the girls and ladies - I have always felt this every time I visit Kerala. I am reminded of the words of Nair, played by the late Muthuraman in KB's "Ethirneechal", "Edo Ningalude naatil one Pennine Moonu per premikkum. Njangalude naatil moonu pennugal oru aale premikkum". Translated - "In your place three guys fall in love with one girl but in our place three girls fall in love with a guy." I will not accept the more ladies to men ratio in Kerala, as the reason for this.

Bad -

1. Businesses starting late and closing early - You wonder, don't these guys want Business? I walk into an internet cafe at 8:30 PM in Chalakudy and the guy tells me politely that they are closing in 10 minutes. In the mornings be prepared for shops and businesses to open at 9.00, 9.30 or even 10.00 A.M. Compare that to the idly shops in Madurai where you can get tasty idlis even at 1.00 A.M. But surprisingly second shows in the cinemas in Kerala are full with entire families bringing even children and babies. In "Gods own country" only the temples open early.

2. Food at Restaurants - One major problem for people from Chennai who are used to the smaller and polished "ponni" or parboiled rice is with the fat rice grain served in Kerala which is in fact the more healthier. Although I don't have a problem this is a deterrent for many outside Kerala at meals. Though I didn't visit any restaurants this time, the overall taste in many restaurants also needs to improve.

3. Taxi - Just the opposite of Auto fares is unjustifiably exorbitant. Let us say you are making a one way trip from Chalakudy to Ernakulam. The taxi charge varies from Rs.450 to Rs.500 for an air conditioned Ambassador car but you will have to pay Rs.900 or Rs.1000 i.e double the fare. Why? Because the driver claims that he "may" have to come back to Chalakudy without a rental trip. So the trick is to retain the taxi for your entire trip. However you may not be making round trips all the time. Check out the pre-paid taxi and Auto options at stations like Thrisoor.

4. Milk - In our old Tharavadu we used to have cows and Grandfather used to personally look after them. But those were things of the past. Having used to milk direct from the cow for all my life tea and coffee don't taste the way they do in Chennai. I am not sure if Milma can be compared to Aavin too.

These are my immediate observations. Add to my lists if you feel like.

Computer boot-up problems and solutions

After the episode with my computer in the last few days I decided to document the entire trouble-shooting process so that it may benefit others too.

1. First and foremost do not tamper with the registry. One of the main reasons why you may have a booting problem (PC not booting, PC incessantly booting several times on start-up) could be due to a screwed-up Registry, mostly due to overuse, tweaking and running .reg files to update the registry.

Earlier I have had problems with some software while installing. Surprisingly one of them happened to be the latest Adobe Reader from Adobe. I have documented the problem in an earlier post ( The other buggy software that can be problematic is Dragon's Naturally Speaking 7. When people are complaining about the version 10 of this program there's no need for you to use version 7. The other problem I had was when my Digital Camera's software wouldn't recognize the camera when connected via USB. This happened on the previous day of my Kerala trip and I ended up uninstalling and reinstalling the program three times and with no success. I will detail how to solve this in another smaller post. But in the process somehow I found my recycle bin missing. Neither Microsoft's solution nor solutions from forums online could bring the recycle bin back on my system. I will indicated how to get around this too in another post.

I then frantically searched all over the internet and got some .reg (registry files) and ran them to update my registry hoping to get my recycle bin back. I think that did considerable damage. I do store back-ups of my registry but what's the use when the system won't boot.

Finally on Thursday evening the system refused to boot up in any mode (safe, or normal). I would see the Blue screen of death for a fraction of a second and my PC would go back to the screen asking me to boot again. My only choice was to re-install the OS but then what about the data. Luckily all my data resides on the E: and F: drives. But doing an install without a backup was risky. Moreover I had some valuable files on the system drive too.

Once again I searched on the internet and YouTube had the solution. The video was unimpressive but it had my answer. I needed a live Windows CD, one that boots from the CD Drive from where I could check and salvage my system. By the way I highly recommend you to visit this site that gives you complete instructions on how to create one. It is, ubcd4win standing for Ultimate Boot CD for Windows. In fact the site was a Godsend. Everyone MUST have this CD. It is free and completely legal. It took me almost 5 hours to make the CD though it can be accomplished much faster.

Once you have the CD, boot from the CD and it will load Windows from the CD. It will report your system and with a huge arsenal of diagnostic tools you can retrieve your system. As I had predicted my data was intact. So instead of simply copying my data I decided to set the registry right. The Registry Wizard restores old registries using the system restore point (it pays to have that running in Win XP) and UBCD4Win restored my registry to the day when I first installed Windows, back on August, 2007. Most of my installed programs were gone but my PC came back to life.

I then purchased a USB hard drive (they sell very cheap these days) and backed up the data. Though I could have continued with the restored system I did a fresh install of the OS. I still need to install all my programs but I am happy I got my PC back.

What you must do - Create your own bootable live Windows CD from the site I mentioned, whether you PC is in shape or not.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Computer woes

I am actually limping back to normal after a computer problem refused to allow the PC to boot. I am in the process of Damage Control and should start posting soon. I will also detail how I solved the problem and so can you, DIY.

Thanks to the internet, the problem-solver, it is indispensible. I cannot imagine a world without it.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Pics of my Kerala trip

Check them out at the Sidebar. Click on the pics to go to the album on Picasa or wait for the slide show to play.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Happy New Year 2009

After a tight and hectic vacation I am back. Hope you all had a wonderful New Year vacation as well. Here's wishing you all a very Happy and Prosperous New Year, 2009. Details of my trip to be posted soon.