Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Trio Davies

Just saw a nice concert by the Trio Davies …well …trio at the Alliance Francaise. It is a trio of young musicians from Portugal who play chamber music. It consists of Filipe Freitas on Oboe, Susan Valente on Clarinet and Ricardo Santos on Bassoon.

They played a mixture of ancient and modern pieces: a selection from Mozart’s Divertimento I, Cino Pecas from Jacques Ibert (a french composer from the early 20th century), Beethovens Trio, Opus 87, and an interesting piece from Gordon Jacob (an English composer who died in 1984).

Although all three instruments have their place in a symphony orchestra, it is an unusual combination for a small chamber music group. The sound created was interesting and pleasing. The last piece from Jacob was particularly interesting and had a very modern feel.

Tomorrow, there is an Italian Jazz group at Alliance.

Other upcoming events: Levi's Sunday Jam this Sunday at CKP, A screening of Shyam Benegal movies on the weekend by Bangalore Film Society at SonaTower, Millers Road.

Code Walkthrough at XYZ-Cheeposoft -3

Eric - King amongst Coders (self appointed)
Bartolemy - Grand Dictator of Programming (officially appointed)
Pustule - Malapert Knave (junior programmer)

Eric : I still can’t believe you are rejecting my code because I indented it with 5 spaces instead of 4.

Bartolemy : Believe it, baby!

Pustule : Oh yea of shallow faith!

Eric : While you guys were getting coffee, I flipped through my copy of the coding guidelines. Here…it says indentation – 5 spaces. What do you say to that?

Bartolemy : Lemme see that….hmm…you seem to be right. But I was so sure….

Pustule : Hey! I know the problem. That is version of the coding guidelines from last week. The latest one is dated 2 days ago.

Bartolemy : You are using outdated guidelines, my friend!

Eric : Gaah!

Pustule : You are supposed to check the quality website every day for updates.

Eric : (unbelievingly) And read 1 million words of the most incredibly boring text on earth every day?

Bartolemy : Absolutely!

Pustule : Indubitably!

Eric : When do I code?

Bartolemy : You can skip lunch occasionally and code. You are too fat anyway.

Eric : I suppose being overweight is against some quality policy as well?

Bartolemy : Of course! Section You would know it if you read the quality guidelines properly.

Pustule : I code during coffee breaks.

Eric : I know. That’s why your code brings down the corporate web server.

Bartolemy : But it is quality compliant.

Eric : Gaah! OK, I’m sick of arguing with you guys. I’ll write me a small tool to convert the indentation of my code to 4 spaces.

Bartolemy : Not so fast, bub! If you are writing a tool, it needs to be code reviewed before you run it.

Eric : Arrrgh!

Eric tears off his Speak-With-Geek T-Shirt and slams it on the floor. Then he does a Navajo fire dance on it.

Pustule : Hey! If you don’t need that T-Shirt any more, can I borrow it?

© Poltu

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Code Walkthrough at XYZ-Cheeposoft -2

Eric - King amongst Coders (self appointed)
Bartolemy - Grand Dictator of Programming (officially appointed)
Pustule - Malapert Knave (junior programmer)

Eric : So let me get this right. You are rejecting my code because I’ve indented with 5 spaces instead of 4.

Bartolemy : Absolutely!

Pustule : Indubitably!

Eric : This, despite the fact that it has been running faultlessly on the web-server for the last three weeks.

Bartolemy : That is irrelevant.

Eric : You cleared Pustule’s code last week…

Bartolemy : It was perfectly quality complaint.

Eric : After that it crashed out corporate web server and reformatted the hard disk.

Pustule : Hey! Anyone can make a small mistake.

Eric : And lost us 1 million dollar revenue.

Pustule : To err is human. To forgive, corporate policy.

Bartolemy : That was not the purpose of the code review.

Eric : I see. One doesn’t check in the code review if the code is overwriting the boot sector with FFFF.

Pustule : Actually, I thought I had typed 10. I missed out the 1 somehow. Minor typo.

Bartolemy : Look, this is irrelevant.

Eric : Irrelevant? Excuse me, but aren’t code reviews supposed to catch programming errors?

Bartolemy : Now that you mention it….

Eric : Well then?

Bartolemy : Don’t worry. We are going to review that review to investigate why we didn’t catch that error.

Eric : And that will fix Pustule’s code, you feel?

Bartolemy : If it doesn’t, we will review the review of that review.

Eric : Aaargh!!!

Eric starts chewing his Speak-With-Geek T-shirt with a frenzied, wild-eyed look on his face.

Pustule : Do you need taco sauce with that?
© Poltu

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Code Walkthrough at XYZ-Cheeposoft -1

Eric - King amongst Coders (self appointed)
Bartolemy - Grand Dictator of Programming (officially appointed)
Pustule - Malapert Knave (junior programmer)

Bartolemy : This just won’t do. This code is awful.

Eric : Awful?? It’s been running without issues for the last 327.5 hours on our web server. And it’s handling 10 thousand hits a day.

Bartolemy : Yes, but….tell me, have you heard of our Coding Guidelines?

Eric : What’s that?

Bartolemy : That’s what I thought!

Pustule : It’s on the quality web page, Eric. Under process XIVI para 12 subsection 15.1

Eric : Gaah! You don’t have to tell me that. I was just kidding.

Bartolemy : Kidding is not permitted in code review meetings as per Quality Rule

Eric : Look, I’ve followed that blessed document as far as I could make sense of it. What seems to be the problem?

Bartolemy : Look at your indentation, my dear friend. It’s all wrong!

Eric : It looks OK to me….

Bartolemy : You have used five spaces! Five!! The coding guideline clearly says: indentation with 4 spaces.

Eric : I see. And if I change the indentation to 4, my code will run faster?

Bartolemy : Not exactly….

Eric : Maybe it will get less customer complaints? Less bug reports?

Bartolemy : Hmm…I can’t say that…

Eric : Maybe it will be smaller in size?

Bartolemy : Of course! I mean…one whole character less times 1 million lines of code….just calculate.

Pustule : (whispering, nudging Bartolemy) The indention is ignored by the compiler.

Bartolemy : Ha-Ha! Just kidding. Of course it won’t.

Eric : I thought kidding wasn’t permitted?

Bartolemy : The code review chairman is allowed one small kid as per sub-clause 12d.

Eric : Anyway. Let me summarize: It won’t make the code smaller, faster or more bug free. Is that correct?

Bartolemy : Absolutely!

Pustule : Indubitably!

Eric : So how exactly is it going to improve my code?

Bartolemy : (sonorously) Your code will be complaint to our coding guidelines.

Eric pulls up his Speak-With-Geek T-shirt, and buries his face in it.

Eric : (sobbing) Mommy!!

Pustule : Hey! Watch it!! You haven’t washed that in months! You’ll asphyxiate!

© Poltu

Friday, January 26, 2007

Blank Noise

According to the Newspapers, apparently there is this group of girls in Bangalore who have gotten together and stand at the corner of MG road and stare at boys. They call themselves Blank Noise. The idea is to give boys a taste of their own medicine, because girls get fed up of being stared at all the time.

Now girls, here is my question...what exactly is your problem if boys stare at you?

I owe up - I am one of the culprits. When I see a pretty girl, I stare unabashedly.

But it is a stare of admiration, worshipful adoration. My humble ocular homage to the creativity of that great despot in the sky. I mean...why couldn’t that cranky old gasket make more pretty girls instead of worms and cockroaches and suchlike? I bring up W&C only because I’ve just seen a hooooorible French movie at Alliance Française called 'Crimson Tide' which featured mutilated rotting corpses covered in cockroaches and worms, and I couldn’t eat for a day after that.

But I digress...

What these girls are doing is staring fixedly at boys and making them uncomfortable.

But ladies, is that how we look at you?

I mean, if a girl looked at me with the kind of admiration that we boys look at you girls, I would be HONOURED, if not elated.

Actually, once in a while I HAVE caught girls looking at me (VERY occasionally). So was I honored? Actually no. The fact is, I know I am no male Adonis, so if a girl looks at me, my first thought is - Oh God! Is my pant slipping and showing my undies again? BUT, there have been these other times, even more rare, when I was absolutely sure my pants weren’t slipping, my shirt was clean, and there was no snot on my nose, and a girl had looked me. And I had been elated!!!

In fact, once - just once in my life - I caught a rather pretty girl looking at me with a pleasant smile on her face. It was such a nice smile, I was sure she wasn’t laughing at me - for some weird reason she seemed to like what she saw. Maybe she had just undergone prefrontal lobotomy. Or maybe she was just short-sighted. Anyway, I tell you - I was happy for DAYS after that.

So, dear ladies of Blank Noise, why don’t you just luxuriate in the admiration and adoration of us poor humble males and let us be? After all, beauty and youth does not last for ever, does it? Enjoy the attention while you get it.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Jazz concert by Camelon Quartet

Classes have started again at Alliance Française. I have started 2A now, in the evening 4-6 PM batch. Yesterday, I stayed back to attend a nice Jazz concert at the Alliance Française by a French Jazz group called
Camelon Quartet. It consists of Sebastian Wacheux on Drums who appears to be the informal leader, David Remy Guitar, Stephen Beaucourt Bass and Thibaut Hien on Tenor Sax.

They played an eclectic collection of songs, ranging from straight Jazz, to Funk and Gypsy music. Their sax player was especially impressive in the slow and moody numbers. In general, they played a thoughtful and meditative set, without a great deal of pyrotechnics. The gypsy influenced pieces were specially interesting.

Overall, a very pleasant evening!

A couple more concerts coming up at AF next week!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The joys of Stevia leaves

Last week, my house was smelling of boiled Stevia leaves. It is difficult to describe...I suppose it is the kind of smell you would get by boiling grass. Not terribly unpleasant, but nothing to write home about.

Now why was I boiling Stevia leaves? And what are Stevia leaves.

Well, during the course of intensive investigations into the health sciences...OK, I read a small article on the web... I discovered that Aspartame has serious side effects, everything ranging from breathing problems, chronic fatigue to damaging the eyes.

You can check up this site:

There are lots of other sites on the internet as well, with similar information, in case you feel this one is run by a nut case. I know you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet, but you can’t believe everything you read nowadays in newspapers and medical journals either, so you take a personal call on these things. Me, I am willing to believe this. I always felt suspicious of Aspartame and Saccharine. I am suspicious of anything that looks like a factory produced chemical and carries the warning label "may be injurious to health if taken in large quantities" and "not recommended for children".

Unfortunately, ever since I was diagnosed with a small excess of blood sugar three years ago, I am on sugar substitutes. At least, I use sugar substitutes as far as possible in unnecessary areas like tea and coffee so I am free to indulge in 'necessary areas' (for a dessert addict like myself) like post-lunch desserts.

Anyway, my further researches lead to a wonderful sounding plant called Stevia, which has been used by South American Indians for thousands of years as a sweetener. It is calorie free, non-sugar based and is free from bad side effects, and in fact has beneficial properties. It is also widely popular in South-East Asia, but has been apparently been blocked in US by the machinations of the artificial sweetener industry.
More stuff on Stevia:-
and of course...

I found that there is a product in the Indian market called 'Dr Shugar" which is Stevia based. Unfortunately, it is nearly twice as expensive as Aspartame based sweeteners, and it is again a chemically processed form of Stevia. I tried it anyway, and found it added an unpleasant taste to the tea.

Since I am anyway reluctant to use artificially processed foodstuff, and also don’t like shelling out money, I thought...why not use raw Stevia leaves?

Internet to the rescue again, and I discovered there is a small nursery in Bangalore which grows it….S.J. Herbals and Nursery, somewhere in the northern suburbs of Bangalore. I called up the proprietor, a kind gentleman called Mr. Raghavendra, and discovered that he sells dried Stevia leaves as a branded product called "Dine& Diet" in 100 gm packets, with only one retail outlet in Rajajinagar called Sriranga Medicals opposite Navrang talkies. Since I was too lazy to move my bums to Rajajinagar, he very kindly delivered a kilo of dried Stevia leaves to my doorstep for Rs 500 (10 packets of Dine & Diet)...enough to last me a year. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t sell anything less.

So how does one use it? You take 50 gm (half of one of those 100 gm packets), and simmer it in 2.5 liters of water (two and a half 1 liter mineral water bottles full) for about twenty minutes, until it reduces to 1 Liter. You strain this in a piece of cloth into a bottle, and put it in the refrigerator. The end result of the process is a bottle of evil looking green liquid, and a big clump of green residue. I fancied the residue might make a good manure, and fed it to my bamboo plant. It hasn’t protested…yet. So how do you use the liquid? You just add a spoonful of the stuff to a cup of tea or coffee. It can also be used for cooking and baking- unlike Aspartame, it does not break down at cooking temperatures. I found it adds a subtle but nice flavor to the tea, not at all unpleasant, unlike Dr Shugar.

One bottle will last me about a month, I estimate. So that whole treasure trove should easily last me more than a year. Anyone who wants to borrow some from me is welcome...I don’t fancy keeping it around that long, growing stale.

Mr. Raghavendra also sells saplings, which I plan to go over and buy sometime, and get my Stevia right off the plant!

This is the contact of SJ Herbals:-

S.J. Herbals And Nurseries
21, Sai Jyothi, 2nd Cross, Vidyanagar K. B. Halli Main Road

Bangalore-560 086, Karnataka, (India)
Phone : +(91)-(80)-23221514
Fax : +(91)-(80)-23221514
Mobile No. : +(91)-9448809476

contact Mr. Raghavendra,, 9844444306
web site