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Miles Davis: Kind of Blue January 28, 2006

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Slow, languid, relaxed, melodic! No wonder, Kind of Blue holds the record for being the best selling Jazz album of all times. Even a beginner like me could easily follow the whole album. And the best part, unlike albums released today, each and every piece is worth listening to.

Ashley Kahn in his excellent book Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece points out, “Copies of the album are passed to friends and given to lovers.”

So guys, drop me a line if you are interested. :))

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Y – The Last Man January 25, 2006

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Sometime back, Jake or Sumo, had raved about a new Graphic Novel series Y – The Last Man. And as I read it, I can see why.

In the summer of 2002, something simultaneously kills every mammal possessing a Y chromosome – including embryos, fertilized eggs, and even sperm – with the exception of Yorick Brown, a young amateur escape artist, and his Capuchin monkey, Ampersand.

So far, I have finished the first story arc (Issues #1 – 5) titled “The Unmanned”. Quite a few more left for later tonight. 🙂

Project: Hack the Desktop January 16, 2006

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The Login Screen

The Desktop

My Computer


Firefox

The new Mac look and feel on a Windows desktop courtesy of Potrait of a Kite.

Project: Hack the Body January 16, 2006

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Around July last year, I decided one of my major priorities for the next 6 months would be to get in shape. My logic was simple: a body is like a machine. If a machine can be hacked, so can the human body. All it requires is will and dedication. Project Hack the Body was underway.

A quick visit to the neighbourhood gym revealed how badly out of shape I was. I was 5’6″ and weighed 81 Kgs. My Body Weight Index was 28.8. Arrgh!

I was lucky to get a great instructor at the gym. Ramesh gave me an excellent set of exercises. No weights just floor exercises. But working with Ramesh, I soon realized that my stamina levels were close to zero.

I could do just 15 minutes (at a leisurely 5-6 Kmph) on the treadmill. 4-5 push-ups / 3 – 4 crunches left my muscles aching. After a month or so, I had lost just a kilo. Not great, but a start nevertheless. Along with my daily gym sessions, I also reduced the intake of sugar / fats / oils in my diet

For six months, I slogged in the gym. There were hiccups & stoppages in between: a bout of malaria, a bad motor cycle accident and stuff like that. But the moment I felt slightly better, I hit the gym again. Along the way my stamina has increased. I now regularly run for half an hour at 8 Kmph on the treadmill, easily complete 3 sets of pushups (15 reps) and 3 sets of crunches (10 reps) along with the other exercises Ramesh recommended.

Today, I reached one of my targets. I reduced my weight by 14 Kgs, my waist by 4 inches and my BMI from 28.8 to 24 and damn, I feel good! 🙂

Have another target for the next 6 months and have promised myself a Mac Mini if I attain that.

PS: If anybody is interested, I have a couple of books on body building that you might find useful.

Overheard January 14, 2006

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Overheard in a Bombay local:

Passenger 1: God! I have a bad headache.
Passenger 2: Kahan pe? Sar main?

Coltrane January 13, 2006

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Currently listening to John Coltrane’s Blue Train. Besides being first album that Coltrane released under his own name as a bandleader, it was also his personal favourite. While all tracks are amazingly good, do listen to the high energy Locomotion and the rhythmic Blue Train. While many people love the slow I’m Old Fashioned, I found it a bit out of place in this fast paced bebop album. Other than that one single oddity, this is an album all music lovers should certainly listen to.

Next Stop: Coltrane’s Giant Steps

Free Books (Hard Copies, Not eBooks) January 11, 2006

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My friend Sumo has an interesting contest running at his blog. In Sumo’s words:

I have run out of shelf space for my new books and am in no mood to pack them off in cardboard boxes. Over the next few weeks, I am going to give away some of my books to caring book-lovers. The books are going to go out as prizes to the series of quizzes that are going to be posted here. And I get to be the judge 🙂

Check out his posts here (and the comments): Quiz 1, Quiz 2

Amazing Coincidence January 11, 2006

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Via News.com:

In a bit of unintended humor, Wall Street closed Apple’s stock Tuesday, the day the company unveiled its first Intel processor-based computers at Macworld, at $80.86.

That may mean nothing to the average person, but techies will no doubt catch the accidental reference to Intel’s 8086, the 1978 processor that spawned the x86 architecture that PC users are so familiar with.

Trivia Time January 11, 2006

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Sumo Man, this one is for you!

Q1. According to Swedish folklore, they were a race of short people (probably escaped slaves) who used to live in Scandinavia. They cultivated land which others felt could not be used easily and lived in homesteads called hackehemman. Name this race that eventually died out.

A. Hackers

Q2. This hacker enjoyed a particular Russian author’s seemingly absurd yet insightful Notes from Underground and used the author’s first name as his handle. He is one of the authors of a work of fiction titled Stealing the Network: How to Own a Continent and his character (called Sendai) specializes in using Nmap, Hping2, Ndos, and similar tools to exploit network configuration and software vulnerabilities commonly found in the wild. Name the hacker.

A. Fyodor, of Nmap fame.

Q3. This hacker claims that at one time he was held in solitary confinement for 8 months because a guard convinced the authorities he could cause a nuclear attack by whistling into a phone. He is the author of two books on computer security: The Art of Intrusion and The Art of Deception and is the central figure in the books Takedown and The Fugitive Game. Who?

A. Kevin Mitnick

Q4. The name for this Hacker quarterly was derived from the fact that phreakers in the 1960s found that the transmission of a particular frequency tone over a long-distance trunk connection gained access to “operator mode” and allowed the user to explore aspects of the telephone system that were not otherwise accessible. Name the magazine.

A. 2600

Q5. This hacker found that the toy whistle that came with boxes of Cap’n Crunch cereal could be easily modified to emit a tone at the frequency mentioned in the previous question. Experimenting with this whistle resulted in this hacker building a blue box. He is known to have taught phone phreaking to Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs. How do we better know this hacker?

A. John T Draper a.k.a Captain Crunch

Q6. A Los Angeles radio station KIIS-FM 102 promised that the 102nd caller would win a Porsche 944 S2. This gentleman hacked phone lines to radio station, ensuring that he would be the “lucky” 102nd caller. When he was featured on Unsolved Mysteries, a reality crime-solving show, the program’s 1-800 number mysteriously went dead just as his picture came on the screen. He later joined SecurityFocus and sources close to SecurityFocus claim that on a clear day, a passer-by could see a jaunty red Porsche parked outside the SecurityFocus compound. Who?

A. Kevin Poulsen, a.k.a Dark Dante

Q7. In 1990, this co-founder of Phrack was prosecuted for stealing the E911 (Enhanced 911) document from BellSouth and publicly distributing it online. BellSouth claimed that the document was worth $80,000. They later dropped the charges when it was revealed that the document (initially described as source code, it was in fact a memorandum) could be ordered from Bell for $13. Name the person.

A. Craig Neidorf a.k.a Knight Lightning

Hindi Movies Downloadable from Google January 11, 2006

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Was checking Google Video for some stuff and was surprised to complete Hindi movies uploaded by people. Some of the movies you can download are:


Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge

Munna Bhai MBBS: CD I, CDII
Koi Mil Gaya
Swades: CD I, CD II
Apharan
Disco Dancer
Neal and Nikki
Mr. ya Miss
Ek Khiladi, Ek Hasina: CD I, CD II

You should add the file extension .flv to the end after downloading. You will also require a FLV player to play this file. Recommended is FLV Player or Mplayer (only for those who are comfortable with a command line movie player).