DC Ducks

This is the best thing ever. If you go to DC, you’ve got to do this tour. The best reason to be on this tour is because you get to ride in an awesome vehicle and get to see things close up (without having to walk!).

Our Captain was very friendly and incredibly knowledgeable. I did a few fact checks on a few things he answered to folks – and they very pretty accurate.

This is some real fun – try not to miss it.

Me Cook Food

When hunger strikes, you have to finally get cooking. For the first time ever, I served food out for myself like a civilized being (instead of devouring from the pots and pans).

On the table

  • Arhar Dal (Lentil)
  • Matar Pulao (Basmati Rice with Peas)
  • Aloo Pyaz ki Sabzi (Potatoes and Onions)
  • Sliced Tomato Salad

Took about 35 minutes to do this.

Bin Laden In India – (Response to Pakistan Daily)

Ok, so here’s another ham for all of us to feed on. Is Bin Laden in India? Like everything else that’s published against India on Pakistan Daily (like how India should be broken into 10 countries and how all our policies are driven by them etc.), this was another piece of speculation. I was very afraid that this classic piece of ham-work will be lost, so I took a lot of pain to sew together all the pages of this article and keep it here on this site for everyone to read, just in case Pak Daily decides to get rid of the article (if just not it’s author). Unlike most Indian newspapers (and Pakistani ones), Pakistan Daily doesn’t disclose the name of it’s journalists for the articles. Is that a convenience call to make sure that back-stabbing is still possible? For the record, as of this writing, bin Laden is very much dead and was found in Pakistan.

The class act begins when they start saying stuff like, and I quote:

The only country in the region whose name never appears in the list of countries that tried to contact al-Qaeda is India. But that is not because India did not try to establish such contact.

Oh hell yes. Indians really need to be contacting al-Qaeda all the time. How else will a country of 1 billion folks kill time? Then there’s news about India harboring terrorists (bombing Pakistan) from Afghanistan. Only fools blame the sky for their destiny. Pak Daily has one such fool (or may be more). Let’s not call them fools, let’s get entertained. Go ahead and find out, is Bin Laden in India?

Update: In an interesting satirical article elsewhere: what would have happened if India killed bin Laden.


Got a disassembled futon at my place – and it’s assembly was quite a project. Took me about two hours to get it together. Photus phollow (wife took camera away to click our daughter, so the trail is a little incomplete).

initial mess
initial mess
arm frames
nuts and bolts
nuts and bolts
futon pad
futon pad
left frame and transmission
left frame and transmission
plan on board
plan on board
frames attached to stretchers (progress 1 hr later)
frames attached to stretchers (progress 1 hr later)
transmission attached (another ½ hr later)
transmission attached (another ½ hr later)
attaching the seat/back frames and rolling out the pad - final outcome
attaching the seat/back frames and rolling out the pad – final outcome

Red Moon During Lunar Eclipse

This Moon (Lunar Eclipse)is a photograph (credits to Hemant Hariyani) taken during a lunar eclipse. Besides being a very beautiful sight, there’s a curious orange tinge on the lower left quadrant of the moon. My curiosity lead to the moonzoo (please search for the terms “blood red” on that page to see their reason) – which explains very briefly the cause of this. While discussing on a list, I realized that it’s confusing sometimes to visualize how exactly this happens – so I drew a diagram to get this straightened out.

Reason for the moon's blood red (orange) color during lunar eclipseRefraction causes light to bend – and when different colors of white light bend at different angles, that causes light to split up; the very cause of rainbows. This is enough theory, the rest is self explanatory in the diagram beside this text. As you can figure out, light from the sun, reflected refracted when passing through earth’s atmosphere – falls on the moon (and since only longer λ [red] reach out) it looks orange (or blood red).

It’s imperative to note, that the cause of this blood red color is very different from the cause of the blood red color we see when the moon rises on certain nights. That blood red is caused because the light coming from the moon gets scattered when passing through the earth’s atmosphere (more so, polluted atmosphere), which causes the red waves to fall on our eyes and make the moon look red. That is when the light from the sun gets reflected back on earth and on it’s way to our eyes, we see red (the whole thing looks red – unlike this phenomenon).

How to use a GPG key and encrypt stuff?

In the wake of increased attempts at online frauds and information stealing, I thought it only befitting to write this step by step tutorial down for people who have never heard of GPG.

Simply put, GPG keys are used to encrypt information. To “encrypt information” means to make the information secure in a way that only a particular person can see what it contains. In other words, you lock the information and only the person having the key to the lock can open it.

Use Case 1: Bank account information over emails
Never send your bank account information (your account number, the name on the account, type of account, card number etc.) by email. Don’t even send the bank/branch you hold accounts in. Nothing – just don’t send any information at all over email.

So then how do you send information if you need to? Use GPG. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Put your account information in a text file (using your favorite text editor).
  2. Save the file and call it, say, account.txt.
  3. Run these commands (on your Linux/Unix/FreeBSD box):
# curl -L 'https://fryol.net/r/rishi-public-key' | gpg --import
# gpg --output account.gpg  -r 0x0B5267B1E3662EBB --encrypt account.txt

If you try and open account.gpg in the same text editor, you would see some garbage in there, which can now only be decrypted by the person whose key you used to encrypt account.txt.
Command 1 (of step 3)  was where  you downloaded my key (hosted on the link http://fryol.net/?u=key) and imported it into your gpg keyring.
Command 2 (of step 3) was to tell gpg to use  0x0B5267B1E3662EBB (which is a public key identifier of the key you imported) to encrypt the file account.txt.

For people who use Windows, there’s an easier way out: http://gpg4win.org/. The steps above would be very similar – I am sure there would be a way to import a key into that program using a URL. So then, all you do is provide it the URL of the person whose key you want to import and it should be able to use that key.

The file  account.gpg is now ready to be sent over email (to the person whose key you imported in command 1 of step 3).

This tutorial is only about encryption – decryption is a separate topic. (..and my primary motive for this post is to let people emailing me quickly encypt stuff).

See also: [http://www.madboa.com/geek/gpg-quickstart/#tosomeone].

PayPal Blocks WikiLeaks – Hundreds Closing Accounts

It’s small wonder that the Internet is running rampant – in support of WikiLeaks. PayPal released this statement on their blog – and closed the comments section. It’s called – the freedom to shut others up. To look at how many people are joining hands and shutting their accounts down with PayPal/Amazon see this news report which has frequent one line comments against both PayPal and Amazon. PayPal’s community links are running threads on and off about account closures and threats  (since there are reports of threads being killed).

People are using alternate payment portals to continue on – Neteller.com and MoneyBroker.com. It’s not clear though that how long all banks and credit card companies can keep their funds flowing to WikiLeaks.

The Hero from Madurai

It’s unfortunate that people sleep hungry and even more that I (and possibly you) know that. Few change the aforesaid statement – and only fewer succeed. Narayanan Krishnan is one of the fewest people alive that put other people’s misfortunes to shame. Please vote for him on CNN Heroes and read about his extraordinary feat here.

Update: Anuradha Koirala was finally called out as the CNN Hero of the year; she indeed deserved it though there’s no belittling of the efforts of every one else. Koirala fights sex trafficking in third world countries, something that requires a brave heart and tremendous efforts (you won’t ever find out what she’s going through).