lunatechian (lunatech-ian)

one relating to, belonging to, or resembling lunatech

sending a geek on a guilt trip

One of the methods used by normal humans to send other (normal humans) on the "guilt trip" is to use the cliche "every time you do THIS or THAT god kills a kitten. Please, think of the kittens..." For an even bigger guilt-trip, you can use "every time you do THIS , somewhere a kitten gets run over by a Monster truck. given not ten minutes ago to the five year old girl standing by the side of the road, spattered, red, and crying as she fumbles with her inhaler" (Thanks to Brian Bilbrey, member of The Answer Gang for the picturesque description )

Frankly, the whole killing of the kitten part leaves me rather unmoved. Having lots of free time on my hand lately, I thought of things that would send me on a guilt trip.

  • every time you do THAT, your email id gets harvested by Mr. Joseph Adisa of Lagos, Nigeria
  • every time you do THAT, Microsoft issues ten critical updates
  • every time you do THAT, some clueless bastard says "Linux has less viruses because it is less popular " (my veins are throbbing just writing this)
  • every time you do THAT, some luser says "IE is better than Firefox since IE supports advanced features like ActiveX"
  • every time you do THAT, someone starts building a new Linux distro
I know I am not normal :-)

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php manual on your hdd

One of the strong points of PHP is its well annotated online manual, which is peppered with useful code snippets and hints. How many times have you pointed your browser to to look up that at-the-tip-of-your-mouth function's argument list ? If you or your company use the manual frequently, it might be a good idea to mirror the manual in your internal network. I have mirrored the manual in my office, and the two benefits that I see are

  • Faster manual lookup - Living in a bandwidth starved country(India), this is a major win for us.
  • A peek at well written code, again a major win if you are always looking for new and nifty way for doing things

The process of how to go about mirroring the manual is surprisingly well documented at Mirroring The PHP Website. As suggested by the documentation, You may want to exclude out certain non essential things ,like the manual in different languages. I also excluded the tar.gz and the zip files in the extra directory.

After downloading the manual pages, I created the virtual host (a simple copy-paste with some minor modifications) for the manual and that was it. To keep the manual uptodate I run the rsync command once a week.

For the record, my rsync command is rsync -avzC --timeout=600 --delete --delete-after --include='manual/en/' --include='manual/en/**' --exclude='manual/**' --exclude='distributions/manual/**' --exclude='distributions/*.exe' --exclude='extra/*.zip' --exclude='extra/*.tar*' --exclude='distributions/*' ./ Of course, you will need to change this to suit your needs.

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Against signing online petitions

I must write this before I am drowned in "armchair activism".

Armchair Activism refers to efforts to influence socio-political change through the ineffective use of e-mail and Web sites, ignoring safer, more effective means of advocacy. Armchair Activism comes in two basic flavors: the e-petition and the boycott chain. Both are typically poorly designed, misguided and pitifully ineffective.
(Taken from Break the chain)

A few days back I received an email asking me to sign an online petition protesting against the move to have reservation for SC/ST in private sector companies. Of course, I did not sign the petition. Anyone can create a online petition and any one can sign it. If you really want to support a cause, then break into your piggy bank. Put your money where your mouth is. Seriously, if you care about something, is creating a petition on the best you can do ? If you want to see some change in the way the system works, you have to exert yourself. We live in a real world, where decisions are not changed because some minister receives an email with hundreds of signatures (none of which can be verified). Emails can be deleted and forgotten about. However, it is hard to delete the articles in the newspapers, it is harder to ignore the criticisms on the TV and it is even harder to ignore people protesting on the streets or sitting on a hunger strike or a Public Interest Litigation filed against a government decision.

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copy paste job

Yesterday while chatting on IRC, one of the participants pointed to the Reliance's "Acceptable user Policy (AUP)" (sic!). You can find a copy here. Interestingly, the Reliance's AUP is a copy and paste job of UKFast's AUP. Of course, not the whole thing is a ditto copy, let it be known that Reliance is not an amateur. It has added one line in the end listing the ports it has blocked and replaced all instances of UKFast with Reliance.

This reminds me of an argument I had with one of my friends a few months back. We were going through some flyers that one of our clients had sent us (we were to create some web content based on the flyers). I pointed out a few grammatical errors in the flyer but my friend said ,"The people who made these are professionals, getting paid more than you to write these. Don't you think you are the one who is wrong ? " (of course, this is slightly paraphrased). This just goes to prove my point, "Incompetence and laziness is not a forte of only small companies".

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an argument for atheism

When I had gone back to my village, I had an argument with my family over existence of god. A line of reasoning that they (more precisely, my mother) took was

  1. there are gazillions of people who have faith in god,
  2. Faith is equal to science
  3. there is a scientific reason for believing in god
Though I seldom tried to breach their faith, this time I took a hard stance and tried to show them the error in their logic.

A central concept in the philosophy of science is empiricism, or dependence on evidence. Any scientific experiment can be replicated by anyone who cares to undertake it, and any theory is based upon sound experimentation and/or observation. The same cannot be said about religion and god. Are their experiments to prove the existence of god ? I agree that there are no experiments to disprove his existence too, but that does not automatically proves god's existence. Another line of argument they take is "Appeal to Authority" i.e. how Newton, C.V.Raman and some other scientists believed in god. With all due respect to these great names, I do not think they have been able give experiments to prove the existence of god, and hence taking their words at the face value is not a scientific process. At this point they stopped arguing with me any further :-)
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