Rough Book

random musings of just another computer nerd

Month: August, 2005

It’s finally here

Tonight is the last light I will sleep as a civilian. Although technically I came under orders on the 26th of August, it’s only tonight that I feel, is my last night as a civilian.

Starting tomorrow, I am a full-time soldier for at least a year and a half, waking up at o-dark-thirty every morning.

I don’t think I can put into words the emotional turmoil I am feeling right now. Tonight I saw many of my friends for the last time (for about a year and half). My family has been with me for the past two weeks, and I will be seeing them for the last time (for a year and a half) tomorrow. I cannot ask for a better set of friends and family. They are the most magnificent, caring, loving people I have ever met, and I am blessed to have them.

I want you all to know I love you, and I will sorely miss you all. Thank you for all the surprises and the gifts you have given me over the past month. Thank you for all the love, laughs, and beautiful memories. Thank you for making my final month before my mission to Iraq a treasure-trove of good memories. Thank you for everything.

I will be counting the days till I get back…

I have updated my blog. If you are still seeing this entry, it’s due to a bug I have in my redirection. What you want to do is clear your browser cache and reload the page. It should redirect to the latest entry. The best way to know if I’ve updated my blog or not, is to take a look at the calendar..

Google Talk/Google IM

Google has come out with their instant messaging program. This seems to be unofficial; the only mentions I can see are on this Slashdot article, and the website I linked to.

You should be able to get it to work using any Jabber client. I’ve been trying to get it to work on Trillian, but I’ve been having some trouble. I’ve set my username as [my gmail id]@gmail.com and the server as talk.google.com. Trillian authenticates, but then quits after receiving “iq errors”:

[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:04:55] *** Creating connection "[my gmail id]@gmail.com/"
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:04:56] *** Server supports TLS encryption...
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:04:56] *** Negotiating XMPP SSL connection...
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:04:57] *** Connection established using EDH-RSA-DES-CBC3-SHA (TLSv1/SSLv3)
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:05:05] *** Attempting to authenticate using PLAIN
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:05:06] *** Authenticated.
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:05:15] *** You have successfully connected to Jabber.
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:05:15] *** ERROR: iq error 501
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:05:15] *** Retrieved user roster from server.
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:05:16] *** ERROR: iq error 501
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:05:16] *** ERROR: iq error 503 from gmail.com
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:05:16] *** ERROR: iq error 503 from gmail.com

If anyone has had anymore success, please let me know. I’m not sure how popular this is going to be; people usually tend to stay within a particular “IM clique” (with AIM, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! Chat being the major players). I use Trillian so that I can talk people in any one of these “cliques”.

This ends months of speculation and rumours about Google’s foray into the IM arena. I wonder what’s next?

UPDATE #1

I tried it again, this time with “Trillian” in the “Resource” field, no luck – Trillian still loses connection to the server. It comes up with a bunch of “Connection lost to server” errors.

[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:44:00] *** Creating connection "[my gmail id]@gmail.com/Trillian"
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:44:01] *** Server supports TLS encryption...
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:44:01] *** Negotiating XMPP SSL connection...
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:44:02] *** Connection established using EDH-RSA-DES-CBC3-SHA (TLSv1/SSLv3)
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:44:10] *** Attempting to authenticate using PLAIN
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:44:16] *** Authenticated.
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:44:21] *** Connection lost to server.
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:44:21] *** Connection lost to server.
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:44:21] *** Connection lost to server.
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:44:21] *** Connection lost to server.
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:44:22] *** Connection lost to server.
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:44:22] *** Connection lost to server.
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 17:44:22] *** Connection lost to server.

UPDATE #2

I found this site that has instructions on getting Google IM to work through Jabber on Trillian. It has the same settings that I use, but they claim to have gotten it to work; although I see the same “Connection lost to server” errors on their status window as well. I also noticed that their status window shows the authentication being done with “[email protected]” as oppsed to “[email protected]”, which is what I’m seeing.

UPDATE #3

Success (sort of)! It works now – I didn’t do anything different, I tried disconnecting and reconnecting, and now the connection seems to be stable. However, I’m unable to add anyone, or IM them. I tried adding myself, but was unable to do so. I’ll keep playing around anyway… Here are a few screenshots:

Manage Connections Preferences Status Window

UPDATE #4

It looks like it’s working now – I still lose connection occasionally, but it seems much more stable than before. I have also been able to add people and IM them.

Some Hiking Pictures

A few months ago, Josh, Michael, and I went backpacking up in Payson. I took a few pictures. I’ll put them all up here… someday. But here are a few that I really liked.

Creek
Hillside Creek in the early morning

I took this one on the second (and last) day of our trip, before we started hiking back to our car (incidentally, it was a 4-mile trip, but we travelled 12 miles. That’s another story though). It was early in the morning. The morning air was fresh, clean, cool and crisp. The only thing you could hear was the chirping of the birds and the bubbling of the creek as it gushed out of the side of the hill.

Campfire
Our Campfire

This is a picture of our campfire. It kept us pretty warm. Initially we couldn’t find that much wood for it. So Josh and I scavenged around for some wood. We found a few dead trees, and then we used this huge rock to break some of them into pieces that we could carry. We sat around the fire drinking beer and whisky, and simply talking. A wonderful experience.

Blue Campfire
Blue Campfire?

Arizona Thunderstorm

There is a thunderstorm brewing outside. One of the many we’ve had over the past couple of weeks. Thunderstorms in Arizona are quite simply, amazing. Dark clouds roil in the sky. They look like herds of elephants. If you look hard enough, you can even see some of them. A trunk here… a tusk there… I would go and stand outside, except that the wind stirs up a significant amount of dust, and I really don’t want to breathe that in.

Arizona Thunderstorm

When the rain finally does come down, it kicks up the dry dust. Then the desert air is suffused with the gorgeous scent of rain-on-dry-earth. Electric fingers reach down from the sky followed by rumbling thunder. The world is lit up in an eerie white light, throwing things into sharp relief, as if the lightning was the world’s biggest camera flash, and the heavens were taking pictures of the inhabitants down below.

The sight is awe inspiring. No wonder our ancestors thought that divine hands were behind them. It makes me feel so small and insignificant. Human beings are the most successful, and the most arrogant species on this planet. We can still be humbled by Mother Nature’s whims and fancies.

Great Weekend

This past weekend was awesome. My sister and my cousins came down from California to hang out with me. However, that was only part of the reason. Their coming over was part of an elaborate scheme to throw a surprise going-away-party for me. I was originally going to leave on August 11th, but that date was pushed back to August 26th. So they were a little early, but that actually made the event all the more surprising. It was actually funny in a way.

On Friday, I was at Sadhana’s house, and I was telling her how excited I was that my family was coming over. However, truth be told, it did seem a little sudden, and I wasn’t sure why exactly they were coming over right now. I mean, it is a bit of a trip. Sadhana seemed irritated that I would ask such a question. “Maybe they just want to spend time with you!”, she said. I didn’t know why she was so irritated, but it makes sense now. She didn’t want me trying to figure things out and ruin the surprise for myself – she had been planning all this for quite a while now, collaborating with the rest of my friends and with my sister and my cousins. The other thing was when I talked to Rachna on Friday. I told her that I would be seeing her this weekend. That apparently caused her to get really flustered because she thought that I knew about the surprise party. But I just said it because my family was over and I wanted all of us to hang out. She started freaking out because she thought I anticipated the surprise party. Then there was my sister’s odd behaviour. Whenever she was talking to Sadhana on the phone, she’d walk away from me so that I couldn’t hear the conversation. It struck me as odd, but I didn’t think much of it. It gets funnier though. We all planned to have dinner on Saturday, and I expected Sadhana, Rachna, and Suraj to be there. We all get to the restaurant and I walk in. I see Nasser, Shareen, Anthony, and his girlfriend, in addition to Rachna, Suraj, Sadhana, and Vibha. They all yell “Surprise!”. So I said, “What are you yelling ‘Surprise!’ for?” I also didn’t look the least bit surprised. Then as I’m sitting down, they say “This is your going away party!”. But I respond, “I’m not going away yet”. Eventually it dawns on me that this is a surprise, and when that happened, I was really surprised!

The party was a whole lot of fun. My sister got me a lovely going away present. Over the last week, she had been hounding me for some pictures – of my family and my friends. I eventually sent them to her. She used them to make a Calendar (2006). I was really touched – I don’t think I could have got a better going away present. I know I’ll be using it to mark the days until I come back home, and while I’m doing it, I get to look at pictures of my family and my friends. Rachna told me that it almost made her cry. And it’s true – it was a very thoughtful and loving gift. Thank you Keerthikutty! Oh yes, then on Friday before I left work, Shareen started sending these odd emails out. Things like “Chocolate, Strawberry, Banana or Blueberry?” and “Blue, Orange, Green or Purple?”. I had no idea what that was about, but I responded anyway. I said “Chocolate” for the first and “Blue and Orange” for the second question. It all fell into place when I got my cake – it was a chocolate cake with Orange and Blue icing.

I was touched that everyone had put so much and effort into planning this. Rachna and Sadhana had been planning all of this, and Sadhana had been in touch with my sister and my cousins for the past few weeks. They were trying to figure out their schedules, and how to get here. Shareen and Nasser had decided on using their house for the party, but their AC broke, and so that didn’t go through. But it’s the thought that counts!

On Sunday we went and saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which I thought was absolutely awesome. Johnny Depp made an awesome Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder did too) and he fully captured the eccentricity and weirdness of the character. Tim Burton’s direction is awesome as usual, and lends his “Burtonesque” quality to the whole movie.

SPOILER ALERT

Ok, I know that some of what I’m saying aren’t really spoilers because anyone who has read the book should know about them.

There were some really touching scenes in the movie. I remember when I first read the book, and I came across the scene where Charlie gets the Wonka Bar for his birthday. I remember the anticipation I felt as Charlie slowly opened the wrapping… and the disappointment when he found out that he didn’t win the Golden Ticket. The movie captured that really well… I felt the same way I did when I first read the book so many years ago. Another scene that I thought was really heart-breaking, was when they show the backstory for Willy Wonka. Young Willy Wonka comes back home from trick-or-treating, and his dentist father (Wilbur Wonka, played by Christopher Lee) is going through the candy. He tells his son how bad the candy is for the teeth, and despite Willy’s repeated pleas to have just one, tosses the whole basket into the fireplace. Young Willa Wonka’s expression (orthodontic headgear and all) is absolutely heart-wrenching.

I am usually nit-picky about movies that have been adapted from books, but I thought this was a pretty good adaptation. The backstory about Willy Wonka didn’t bother me too much either. All in all, a good movie.

END SPOILER ALERT

After the movie, we went back home and chilled for a bit. After Michael got back home, all of us went grocery shopping and bought the ingredients to make some Mexican Food. We also bought fresh pineapples to make some piƱacoladas. Josh came over as well, and we all started working together on making dinner. The dinner we made was delicious! We made Tacos and Taquitos which we ate with salsa, guacamole, and mexican rice. Oh yeah, and piƱacoladas with fresh pineapples! After dinner, we sat around and talked for a while. I brought down both of Michael’s guitars, and he also brought down my keyboard. We jammed for a bit with Dipu Cheta and Michael on the guitar, Prem on the percussion set on my keyboard, and with me singing. Good fun!

The next morning my cousins and my sister headed out. Dipu Cheta flew back to San Francisco, and Keerthi and Prem began their long drive back to Los Angeles. I had a whole lot of fun this last weekend. It’s the best I’ve had in a while!

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