welcome, 2016



I won’t say that it feels as though 2015 ran away from me before I realized it. But it did see 50% fewer posts than the year before.

Honestly, at this point, this yearly update is one of the few only pieces that I remember to update this site with. I have to wonder where we’ll be in 2017.

So, 2015 1.

(You guys  probably want to read that footnote so the rest of this post is more in context)

A year that saw Raghu and myself launch a podcast, and produce 21 episodes. Take-away? We do appear to have an audience (at least I think so, based on the download stats). We seem to have found a niche of sorts2, which is a little different from where we started.

A year that saw me switch computing platforms completely. I started 2015 lamenting the state of the computing industry, and came off sounding like an Apple fanboi who believes Apple is the one and only savior of personal computing who can do it right. Plus there was that one other post last year which really brought home to me how old some of the technology I use is. So I’ve ended 2015 using an iPhone, a MacBook Pro, an iPad.. and wondering how to justify purchasing an Apple TV. Quite a flip from this perspective 3.

A year where Microsoft somewhat exited my computing existence, after dominating it ever since I remember using a computer. There was a point there, where in addition to Windows, I was all in on Outlook.com, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, etcetera 4. But then there was the disaster of the Windows 10 upgrade that I accidentally managed to have shoved down my computer 5. Complete with the classic error message ‘Something happened‘ when I started the upgrade.

A year where my preference has switched to being apps-based with the cloud/Internet comprising the backend, rather than work out a way to channel it to a central email-based workflow or just do everything in a web browser. Maybe I’m just tired of getting email. Or maybe this is what Apple OSes encourage 6. Either way, a vast majority of what I do is now within apps instead of a web browser. Even this post.

Enough tech.

A year where I didn’t write any fiction at all. Or post such fiction to this blog. Can I excuse.. argh, f*** it. Moving on.

Maybe movies?

A year where the stand-out Hollywood-produced movie I’ve seen has to be ‘Inside Out’. Sure ‘The Force Awakens‘ was great nostalgic fun, and ‘Avengers 2 ‘ was reasonable.. but ‘Inside Out’ was something special. The way I described it to anyone was that it was an animated movie for parents. So much resonance with the many layered concepts that movie explicated with regards to child/parenthood. About life, in fact. Lovely 7.

A year where Bollywood yielded a ‘Badlapur’, a dark noir tale of revenge that does not compromise in any way. Further established to me that Varun Dhawan is a force to watch out for (he was even watchable in the eminently unwatchable ‘Dilwale’, alongside Kajol). Honorable mention to ‘Ugly’ (even though it is a couple of years old). Even darker, even more unrelenting.. a complete slamdunk of movie-making at its best. And by Kashyap, no less.

A year where I finally finished (and loved) ‘Breaking Bad’ early on, but my “TV” pick would have to be Aziz Ansari’s ‘Master Of None’. His comedy takes some getting used to, but what a show. Perfectly encapsulates so much about Indians in America. I will admit though, that Doctor Who Season 9 very nearly superseded this pick o’mine. Capaldi really owns the role of The Doctor in the modern era in a way I have seen few actors pull off. And I’m going to hate it when Moffat leaves someday as showrunner. Pray that day is far, far away.

A year where I steadily progressed into primarily listening to audiobooks (I blame my listening to podcasts for the transition).. but cannot definitively pick a particular book. I plan to up the ante in the coming year, one has to hope that I have a pick (not to mention a yearly update post), come next year.

Do I have any thoughts for what 2016 will bring? Again, I know of interesting events that are supposed to happen. Maybe even.. developments.

If nothing else, 2015 has taught me that I’m at the stage in life where things happen, some of which can even be said to be notable.

But the way you play it is: hold on to that hat, and enjoy the ride as it comes.

  1. One could believe that this post is talking about the only important things in my mind when it comes to 2015. Or that these are the only memories I take away from this past year. Both of which would be pretty sad. Far, far from the truth. As the site “evolves” (ha ha), memories get harder to explicate.. some of which are better cherished deep deep within, to be revisited in daydreams alone. Complete with golden hues and sentimental music. I guess I’m saying that we’ll leave this place a tad more superficial than we found it, okay? 
  2. I haven’t summarized it so anywhere else yet, but what the hell: “Desi tadka for pop/geek culture” is where it’s at for now. 
  3. Though, incidentally, I did post this too. So, maybe not so much. 
  4. Heck, I even used the “Metro” apps for Mail, Calendar etc in Windows 8/8.1. 
  5. On hindsight, eminently bloggable. Rants, frustration, you name it. Come to think of it, I didn’t even podcast about it. 
  6. Or maybe OS X is the only desktop-class OS that is actively having apps developed for it. Think about it. 
  7. In fact, may I recommend this podcast episode, which does an excellent job of deconstructing the movie. No, it’s not us Inconceivables. 

2015, or the year of going Back to the Future


(We’ll have to get back to that title in a minute.)

Continuing the tradition of sorta summing up the year just gone by is getting harder and harder, to say the least. 2014 was a year of some significant epochs, such as resetting my “time since last India visit” counter back down to 1 month.. after letting it hit 4 years and 10 months with no visit. ‘Twas a good great trip.. my biggest observation being that India is caught in an uncanny valley where they are technologically in the current day.. but in other day-to-day matters (including some infrastructure-related), they’re stuck in some bygone era. To be sure, there are some great efforts to fix all of this, but in the meanwhile, it becomes a question of how much compromise can one uncomplainingly accept. At the very least, I am still able to recognize that the India I left behind is a temporal state that India itself has left behind (if that makes any sense)1.

Other interesting developments.. hm…ugh, well, I guess tech-stuff is a good a topic as any. I’ve had to reluctantly accept that Apple appears to be the only technology company today that has truly figured UX/UI/hardware/software to a degree well beyond their competitors in any of those domains. I still maintain that it will take a lot to prise my X230T from my cold dead fingers, but even I have to begrudgingly accept that back in 2012, it was tough to say that the Lenovo comprehensively beat the Macbook. And then, of course, we got G an iPhone.. which shows off what is possible in these devices with some effort. And yes, it’s an effort I’m seeing only from Apple.

Do I sound like enough of an Apple fanboi yet?

Another observation I’ve cemented on: Google provides some amazing professional-grade services for “free” to consumers2, but ever since the death of Reader, I am wary. Microsoft seems to have some interesting possibilities in terms of providing a freemium alternative to Google, but they’re moving too slowly and shipping too many silly bugs to be taken seriously3.

2015 will mark the 5 year anniversary since I got this beast. And it still serves me well, humming along quietly in the corner. Unfortunately (for it), 2014 signified the year I was able to slowly relegate it to file server status. Probably meaning that beautiful machine will be put out to pasture somewhere4. It’s hard to accept that my computing needs have dropped down to a laptop once more, but a good run while it lasted 🙂 5

This blog itself? It got over 2000 views in 2014, probably largely led by all the interest in this post (which single-handedly contributed nearly 900 views). I am still interested enough in this space that I did some cleaning up of tags/categories prior to writing the current post, so there’s that. I am actually considering simply logging any tech research I do to this space. I’ve no idea if anyone ever finds that stuff useful though. Maybe a theme change to boot? We’ll see.

Some stuff I missed on initial posting: Thanks to the wonderful institution that is the US public library system, the little one is enjoying as many books as she can read have read to her. Et moi? This friggin’ place rents out PS3 games. And a completely delectable collection of comic books graphic novels6. The cherry on top? This place has gotten me back to watching movies more regularly, with a pretty varied Blu-Ray collection. I’ve not even started looking through the DVD section. Yeah. Me Happy7.

The other thing that just struck me is that 2014 is the year I let go of my mania of collecting (or as G would put it, hoarding). Not all of it, but still:

  • Maintaining an MP3 collection (hello, Saavn/Spotify).
  • Staying up to date with a crazy number of web comics (let go of Dilbert there after nearly 15 years of following his work).
  • Staying up to date with a crazy number of currently published graphic novels (hello, library and your insanely expansive treasure trove).
  • Boxes in which small electronics came in (yeah, you read that right).
  • Rakhis, store bought or hand-made that I’ve been preserving since 1995 (seriously, that stuff was falling apart).

Ah, and, finally.. the title. I don’t know if we’ll get ‘flying’ added to the ‘self-driving’ aspect of cars this year (probably not). But steps toward holographic interfaces and interactions? That would be interesting. And so goddamn cool8.

2015 will likely shape up to be interesting on multiple fronts, which of course, we’ll have to wait and watch for. Stay tuned.

  1. Not yet a complete NRI who finds it hard to digest (pun intended) that the price of vada pav is now 300% more than when he left, or that the latest technology products are actually available and widely used in India immediately after release. 
  2. “Free” as in “you, the consumer, will be sold and stalked rather than being sold to, deal with it”. 
  3. There is a long-unfinished post that I’ve probably restructured about 10 times where I was attempting to explain how I worked out interesting ways to use Microsoft and Google services. It remains to be seen if that topic will see the light of day. 
  4. Still figuring a replacement. 
  5. Small hardware upgrades.. an SSD, doubling the RAM, and even Windows 8.1 were all instrumental in its lifespan. 
  6. Yes, the little ‘un makes me read them to her. And yes, I do the different characters in different voices. And yes, she can recognize the main characters very well, thank you. 
  7. Can you tell that 2014 is the year I got back in touch with a bunch of my hobbies? Which means I’m ignoring something else, coz there’s no way I should have the time to do this. 
  8. Can you tell I recently watched ‘Her’? 

hello, 2014


Even as I starting typing in this box, I got to thinking about what I would remember 2013 for. 2012, was of course stupendously epic on multiple fronts — something I should probably have talked about in January 2013 🙂 Well, ’nuff said about what is now 2-year-old news…

What do I want to say about 2013 specifically, then? A pretty big “life checkbox” got ticked this year, together with which came the realization of all the different ways I’m supposed to have grown up by now. How does it feel? Pretty amazing. Unfortunately though, a pretty big “death checkbox” was also crossed off… and despite my better sense telling me otherwise, it is hard to believe how things have gone down. How much I wish I could have been there. And how quickly it all happened1.

Skipping away from such thoughts, I guess my big takeaway from 2013 is my realization that I need to make the time to do <fill in something I complain about not getting to do nowadays>. Trite realization I guess, but for far, far too long I wished? hoped? that life would be nice enough to open up the time I need2. Very much au contraire, mon ami. Life has the glorious ability to fill up all the time you have available with whatever it can. I’m still not great at properly allocating time, and have a major tendency to push off to-dos until they cannot be pushed any longer… but I’m learning to look at things differently. That being-a-Dad/having-a-family thing? Shockingly great motivator that ensures that there is always a chunk of time that cannot be given over to work3. Hopefully I can take that forward into the many other activities that have suffered in the absence of time for them.

This space, of course, didn’t see much of anything in 2013. For those who came in late, it is now spluttering and coughing its way into its 10th year of existence. Among other things, I guess a post describing fatherhood in some way is pretty mandatory in the blogosphere. 16 months in, I can’t freeze on an angle to take. Yes, it doesn’t seem that long to me either.

Speaking of blogging, I clicked around the different stats that WordPress so kindly makes available to us bloggers. This site has clearly become the hub for… erm…

Search stats Q4 2013

Yep, Asia Carrera lovers are hitting up this page, and probably getting a little disappointed by the content. It is, of course, one of only 3 pages indexed by Google which have that relatively innocuous photo. Another page that’s very popular? One of my many posts about Savita Bhabhi4.

A good place to end as any, I guess. And yes, I know have managed to get 2 posts out in 2 weeks, where there had been 2 posts out in the 11 months before that. Assuming we don’t want to jinx it, lets leave it there.

1. I just scanned my post from the end of 2011, and in addition to the loss in the family, another thing that is in correspondence to that time is my India trip, or the lack thereof. 4 years and counting now…

2. Or that I would be able to just “create” the time I need. I have been able to in the past anyway. Basically, I gave up sleep. Or free time. Voila, time just got made.

3. Incidentally, also a way to find out how much you can do for a baby in a groggy, sleep-deprived state. My kid, clearly knowing of my late-night-ways, first chose to wake up every morning at 3 am for “play-time”. Nowadays, she just wakes up and is ready to attack the day at… 5:30-6 am. Every day. I used to say to the only way I can be sure of being up at that time is if just never slept. Something, someone, somewhere has a sense of irony.

4. And yes, I realize that by including these words in this post, I’ve probably further cemented my PageRank as an authority on these 2 subjects. And to think of all the time we spent on Galadriel’s PageRank for… well, you know.

a year of discovery.. and rediscovery


Here we are, 7 days into the new year and an actual “New Year” post is actually finally taking shape.

In the past year, there is (obviously) one insane, gigantic event.. nay, happening that dominates all else.

I got married.

Who would have remembered that, right?

What has followed since has been.. to put it mildly.. a dream. Bear with me while I mush eloquent.

Setting up a house together. Her moving in. Living together. Realizing that this was possibly one of the best decisions you could have taken. Ever. The laughter. The fun. The realization that life is taking shape, forming plans that you always wanted to.. but just didn’t know someone else would be enthusiastic planning too. Trips together. Time together. Wondering how all that time apart was even spent. And here we are. In another 240 hours, it will have been a whole year since that monumental day. Together.

Now that I come to think about it, a veritable crapload of people I know got married this year. Funny how that worked out.

Anyway, now for the bull in the room, the PhD. There was the joy of some papers finally being accepted (prior to this I had a perfect zero acceptance rate for almost a year). On the flip side, there was also the frustration that I currently live with.. the fact that there is a significant hole in my resume that I absolutely must fill up if I want to get going with my life. For a change I know exactly where I’m going wrong.. the focus I seem to have a grasp on slips every once in a while. The less that happens in 2011 the better for me. Hopefully the next New Years’ post will have some talk about my big next step (so there will be at least another new years’ post, for those who are worried about such things).

Meanwhile, back at the ranch.. things have taken a back seat. There has been the significant dip in my using this blog. Which reminds me, that 2011 is going to see a definitive difference around here, partially fueled by the aforesaid dip. I’m not leaving.. but there will be changes. Huge changes. You’ll see.

Other things that strike me.. there was the acquiring of a PS3, rediscovering the joy of gaming.. and going back to gaming on the PC (a keyboard+mouse combo beats a controller any day of the week, hand’s down). Having a working high-end PC again. The joy of Netflix on a TV/PS3. Twitter (969 tweets and counting in 6-odd months). The awesomeness of Endhiran. The loss of a hard drive containing irrecoverable memories. The parental visit, and realizing how much you miss the “home” you once left.

I bet my lack of posting here makes a lot more sense now 🙂

What remains to be said?

Ah yes. The Man Who Was. And the Story that Isn’t 😦 Something I hope to fix. For a change, I think I know where it can go (not that that was the reason it never progressed beyond part 4).

A new year is here. I want to expect a lot from it.

Great expectations, indeed.

the year it all started changing


That sums up how I see 2009.

Consider if you will: Engagement. Proposal (to the missus, and to my PhD committee). Those each warrant as epochal all on their own.

They are overshadowed in my mind by what is to happen in 2010.. so this post may seem a little distracted.

I’ve seen “at the end of this decade” posts galore. Movies. Books. Events. Photos. Music. Acting. Games. Comics. You name it. Somehow this decade appears to need a lot of summing up. I had some things I wanted to sum up too.. all from my own point of view. I don’t know if I’ll ever get round to doing it.

My own current post remains to be about the year just past though. ‘Engagement’ and ‘Proposal’ do a fair job of summing it up majorly, as I’ve mentioned. Minorly… I actually have to go back to archives to see what “minor” events are there to talk about. This year saw a lot of me talking about how I have nothing to talk about. And that there are a lot of things I want to talk about, but am too lazy to blog about. I started talking more “tech” too – in fact, my frustration with my (nearly dead) HP laptop has been the cynosure of a lot of eyes recently.  I have learnt some degree of photography and I have to take it more seriously if I don’t want it to languish like so many other things (like this blog). I’ve written a lot more about movies than ever before. Pretty much summed up/reviewed/critiqued every movie I’ve seen this year. Which reminds me that ‘Paa’ is decent, ‘3 Idiots’ is fun and ‘Sherlock Holmes’ is awesome due to RDJ.

See what I mean?

Personally – there have been drastic changes. A lot of which have happened without me realizing it explicitly. Nothing for the bad, as a lot of them are due to the missus… but when I sit back and think about it now, it feels… strange. Awefome, but strange. I may have mentioned this before, but growing up is something I always thought happened like a superhero changing into his costume – some kind of illuminating flash, and you’re knowledgeable in some new way. It is almost wondrous to realize that you’ve learnt stuff without the flash of illuminating light, that you’ve grown up, that people see you as ‘grown up’. At least to some extent. I do still read comic books after all.

As said in my movie of the year (for which I have pretty much gotten the dialogue by rote): “Aife aife kaife kaife ho gaya…aur kaife kaife aife aife ho gaya.

Have a good ‘un, all. A great ‘un lurks around the corner.

speeding past


another new year: one set of words to sum-up time past, another set of words to try and forecast what might happen in the year to come.

past years have each had unique revelations (try as i might i cannot get that word right). i have felt alone, i have felt excited, i have felt sadness, i have felt the even rocking of a boat sailing on. i can’t say that this year was the even rocking that i realized last year, this was the year that i hit 25. it was the year that i have had 4 publications. meaning that when i search for myself on google, i don’t just find this page and some other random hits. a more professional recognition exists, something i felt most when i made an oral presentation in front of peers and superiors in my field of work. i got to “attend” and experience conferences in all their glory. i realized just how much a phd excites me. how much research can mean; spending long hours in the lab trying to figure out something other people don’t know about. yes, i am starting to realize what a professional career is.

personally speaking, i found time is passing me by at speeds well over the limit. friends got married: so many of them that i’ve stopped counting. people grew older, yes, even those people who are not supposed to. i tripped around the US, and realized some significant things about myself and some very significant people in my life. every year heralds important developments in one’s life – uninteresting considering that there are 365 days for things to happen. that said, i foresee some very interesting developments in 2009. for example, we may see the introduction of capital letters (gasp!) on regular posts that happen on this blog. i have come up with some ideas that i want to try out, such as writing more intelligibly, more creatively and more often.

i sit now to think about everything that happened in the last year, expectedly, some incidents are embellished almost indelibly in my memory: giving a presentation, meeting people who are gods in my field, watching my mom eat cotton candy in disneyworld the way i did 14 years ago, living the new york work-life (albeit only for a week), watching independence day fireworks, falling in love with a car all over again, hanging out with some of my oldest friends. the rest of the year is a blur, it sped past while i tried to enjoy the moments that make it up.

which eventually speed by as i try to realize the next set of moments.

have an awesome new year. because there is no charge for awesomeness. or attractiveness.