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The Walrus

The Walrus writes the content on this website. He is an incredibly intelligent dude who, to date, has derived several mind-blowing theorems that promise to shatter all preconceptions of the number 42.

When he is not determining the social lives of ants, he likes to jog, exercise and keep fit. His day job involves determining the causal charateristics of life, the universe and everything.

Warning: This page may prove hazardous to those who are singularly bound by self-prejudice and a lack of curiousity.


Good Stuff

Real Programmers don't comment their code. If it was hard to write, it should be hard to understand.

The Death of the Jain Mailing List.
Posted by: Admin on Thursday, June 19, 2003 - 05:11 AM
The Walrus's Blog The Jain-List is dead. Wait, let me correct myself. It is not really dead. It's floundering badly under a torrent of irrelevent messages, spam and an uncharacteristic apathetic attitude from many of the long standing members of the list. It's sad to see such a premier dicussion list die in such an ignoble manner. Today I unsubscribed (after being subscribed for over seven years) because the signal-to-noise ratio has effectively become zero over the past few months.

If I'm not mistaken, The Jain List is the oldest mailing list on the Internet dealing with the Jain religion. It used to have some truly smart and knowleadgeable people on board and I enjoyed reading the discussion posted on the list. The slow but steady downfall of the list only came about when the list ownership was transferred to a new moderator (the old moderator didn't have the resources to keep the mailing list running).

Few months after the transfer to the new moderator (this was when Internet was really hitting it big time), we had a proliferation of AOL-inspired "me-too" culture. For example, there were tons of messages with the content:

Message 1: I'm Mr. NewToInternet. I have studied in SomeUniversity. I am a Jain. Send email to me.
Message 2: (in reply to message 1) I'm new here too. I'm Ms. NotTooNetSavvy. I live in SomeObscurePlace. Please email me.
Message 3: (in reply to message 2) Me too! I'm a Jain too. And I like music.

You get the idea. Very interestingly, there was a regular influx of email that had absolutely no relevance to the us (for example, the workings of a minor temple in some god-forsaken place). With a majority of the email on the list being irrelevant, relevant discussions were effectively suppressed.

Finally came the fireworks which pretty much put the list out of its misery. Several months ago, a smear campaign targetted to someone on the list was started. I have no idea of the truth behind the smear campaign and I really do not want to know because it's irrelevant. The point is that thanks to the smear campaign, we had a list with anywhere between half a dozen to a dozen email addresses spewing allegations and drowning out all rational thought. It was crazy and when things didn't seem as if it could get any worse, pr0n spam started coming in.

So as can you see, the list has lost all value it originally possesed. Who is to blame? The moderator. He took on a job but didn't even bother doing it. He disappeared halfway so even when others were willing to do the job, they couldn't take over the role and bring some semblance of order to the mailing list. Fortunately, a separate mailing list seems to have sprung up and it is moderated. So that's that. Out with the rotten and bring in the new. Let's see how long this one will last.

Note: If you have no idea who are Jains or what Jainism is all about, read this.

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This Site Was Down Earlier.
Posted by: Admin on Wednesday, June 18, 2003 - 09:54 AM
The Walrus's Blog For some reason only the PostNuke Gods know about, one MySQL table got corrupted and this site was not operational for several hours. The table has been restored and everything looks fine. I want to write more about the RSS Search Engine but I have a deadline to meet by end of the week. So it's back to coding.

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The Outing With The Tiny-Tots.
Posted by: Admin on Tuesday, June 17, 2003 - 12:40 AM
The Walrus's Blog Some time ago, I made a promise to my cousins (ages 11, 10, 8 and 7) that I'll take them to the cinemas to see Finding Nemo. Of course, I don't think I was entirely sober at that time ... high on some alcohol or illegal substance ... no wait, I think it was my very own stupidity. You may not have realized this but children have a particularly tenacious memory because three weeks later and still no Finding Nemo cinema outing, the kids were wailing to their mothers who in turn were giving me dirty looks. I caved in last Sunday and took them to the cinemas.

First thing I learnt - taking four kids to the cinemas alone is not a good idea. They are like wild objects with pointers flying about all over the place and you almost always on the edge of a segfault. To illustrate a fairly memorable event (the McDonald's scene after the movie):

Me, the generous big brother cousin: Who want's to drink Chocolate Shake?
Them: (in a cacophony) Me Me Me Me Me Me Me ...
Me: Ok. Wait here.
... (15 minutes later)
Me: Eh, why you not drinking your Shake?
Cousin A: Dunnnn want.
Me: Drink lar.
Cousin A: Dunnnn want larrrr.
Me: Then why you said you want?
Cousin A: Dunno.
Me: (I'm lost for words).
Cousin B: I oso dun wan.
Me: You osso ah ... why?
Cousin B: Dunno (in the same tone of voice of Cousin A).
Both start giggling.
Cousin C: Hey look at this ...
(a bunch of McShaker fries go flying over the railing and into the cinema crowd)
Me: Holy Shit!
And before I could say anything else ...
Cousin A: (giggling) Just now I also got throw ...
Me: (speechless)

With other patrons staring at me as if I was a delinquent parent and with the cinema patrons eyeing to see the guilty party responsible for McShaker fries in their carefully perfumed hair, I decided it was time to leave. I learnt an important lesson: always always always take the kid's mothers with you.

Update: I forgot to state my opinion of the movie. One word: Gorgeous. It really looks good. The fishes are really beautifully rendered (the clown fish look excellent). The movie's character development was decent (The Old Man agrees with me here) and the script was funny at certain place (the shark scene was hilarious!). Oh well ... go watch it and have fun :)

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How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days.
Posted by: Admin on Sunday, June 15, 2003 - 07:03 AM
The Walrus's Blog At The Cinemas
We were at the cinemas on a Saturday night and faced a dauntingly long queue. We persevered, nonetheless, and told the cashier that we want to watch a movie - give us anything that is available. She tore off the tickets and told us that it would start in several minutes. We got some (mandatory) drinks and popcorn and settled down to watch the movie.

Synopsis
Blatantly ripped from some website:

Based on the humor book How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days: The Universal Don'ts of Dating, the story is about an advertising executive and legendary ladies' man (Matthew McConaughey) who bets his friends that he can stay in a relationship for more than 10 days. But the girl he chooses (Kate Hudson) wants to get rid of him just as quickly as he normally drops the gals.

So How Was It?
Even though the reviews have not been kind to this movie, I found it funny and worth watching. The script, though predictable, was decent enough to keep things rolling. Just as you start getting tired of the antics of Andie (Hudson), the story moves on to the climax. Andie really steals the show as she strives to get rid of the guy. Ben (McConaughey) does not do much in the movie other than play the required supporting role. However, both of them are fairly talented actors and do a good enough job to keep you entertained.

And ... ?
I usually don't write about movies since most of them tend to be formulaic and if they aren't, then they have been reviewed to death elsewhere. I make an exception here because although this movie did have a formulaic storyline, it was funny enough to sustain you to the end. My opinion: take your special someone to this movie - trust me, you'll have fun :)

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The RSS Search Engine.
Posted by: Admin on Friday, June 13, 2003 - 06:25 PM
The Walrus's Blog I've built a very simple RSS Blog search engine. It pretty much works but there is hardly any algorithmic goodness in the search engine. At first I used a simple SQL SELECT LIKE query but predicably that didn't do too well. I then came across MySQL's full text search capability but it's giving strange results (I search for Malaysia and a link about PAS comes out. Then I search for PAS and nothing matches. Bad algorithm!). Oh well :) What's left to do is this:

* build a spider (shouldn't be hard)
* add RSS auto discovery capability
* allow intelligent spidering of blog entries
* to build power into the searching functionality.

The first three can be done fairly easily. It's the fourth one that's hard. Google has really set the standard in this regard and rest of us are trying our best to catch up. I've told The Potato to start searching for searching algorithms but he seems more interested in the Python app he's coding. Bad Potato! It's 3 AM (Bots has just got up for those who want to know) and I need to get up early and go replace a r00ted server. If you know of a good searching algorithm, tell me!

Update: The Potato talked to the Feedster dude and Scott said that he can get searching scoped down to Malaysian blogs only if we give him the OPML of all such blogs. The OPML idea sounds good as it can seed my search engine too :) Let's see where this goes. And to retract my statement of Bad Potato!, I'll say Good Work!

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The Matafilter Project.
Posted by: Admin on Thursday, June 12, 2003 - 10:16 AM
The Walrus's Blog It's worth noting that Tim has a blog project going on called Matafilter. As for the purpose of Matafilter, Tim says it best:

"A directory like Mycan or Great Malaysian Blog Directory can show you that there is a lot of content out there, but one glance at them cannot tell you whether there is anything interesting in there at all. What we need is a directory that does show you the content even before you click on the link.

Matafilter is therefore is a way of highlighting good content of Malaysian bloggers in a single location to be seen to a wide and broad audience. To open up the eyes of bloggers, so to speak, to a wider range of good blogs. It is not conceived as a reward for producing good content, but as a way of sharing. "


Looks good! Project Petaling Street and Matafilter both stand out as ways to present the best in Malaysian bloggers. I was supposed to add this blog to Project Petaling Street but I decided not to because I sincerely felt that my blog did not stand up to the quality of the other blogs and that there are many other blogs out there that deserve more attention.

Let's hope both projects succeed.

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Project Petaling Street.
Posted by: Admin on Thursday, June 12, 2003 - 05:33 AM
The Walrus's Blog A bunch of local bloggers have launched Project Petaling Street, a blog portal that aggregates the freshest and latest content from a cross-section of Malaysian made, Malaysian maintained blogs. Aizuddin has the full details here. This project has pretty interesting plans - read the wiki here for details on where it's heading. Great seeing a collaborative work evolving :)

This idea of a search engine for local blogs is very enticing. For example, it'll be great to search for keywords such as "floods june dataran merdeka" and get a list of blogs that are discussing the recent floods. The problem, of course, is that not all bloggers produce RSS/RDF, hence making the problem of building a search engine relatively more complex.

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The RIAA Sues Student, Takes Life Savings.
Posted by: Admin on Monday, June 09, 2003 - 02:58 PM
The Walrus's Blog Slashdot is reporting that the Recording Industry Association of America sued a university student and settled out of court for USD12,000, the student's life savings. The student's alleged crime? He ran a search engine service for his university's network. RIAA sued him because his seaech engine could be used to search for pirated music on the university network. He settled to avoid the lengthy litigation costs. Cary Sherman, the president of the RIAA, has said that: "The people who run these Napster networks know full well what they are doing: Operating a sophisticated network designed to enable widespread music thievery".

I'm cross-posting this story because it has hit a personal nerve. I happened to run a short-lived search engine when I was in living in the university dormitory. The internal network at my university was a haven for piracy - copyrighted software, music, videos were all available easily - and although I have no doubt that my search engine was being to search for illegal material, I personally used it to search for lecture notes of the Faculty of IT students (I was an Engineering student) and movie trailers. If the Recording Industry Association of Malaysia was a bit more aggresive, I have no doubt that they would have come after me.

What would I have done? Fought them in court of law, of course. My defense would be by way of analogy: the search engine is like a knife: knives can be used to kill people, but do we prosecute knife-makers or the murderer? I see RIAA as bullies. They are targetting those who can't defend themselves because the cost of litigation is too high. Someone needs to stand up to them because they will continue to do this and destroy technological innovation in universities. To quote a Slashdot poster: The bully only stays a bully so long, then someone comes along and beats the ever living shit out of that bully and makes them realize that they aren't allowed to be a bully any longer.

I would fight because their lawsuit is a clear threat to technological progress. The Association has a century long history of attacking any technological innovation that would encourage piracy indirectly, even though that technological innovation was never meant to facilitate piracy. If the Association had its way, we would not have VCR's, the Internet, radio, television, CD-RWs and more. I belive that while we cannot defend the copyright violators in good faith, it is nonetheless our duty to resist the high-handed tactics of the Association. I would have donated to the defense fund of that kid who got sued.

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Monday Monkey.
Posted by: Admin on Monday, June 09, 2003 - 07:49 AM
The Walrus's Blog Am incredibly uncomfortable now. It's hot, the air-cond is not really working, I've got bullshit office work to do (like calling up customers to delay demos), my office Internet connection is absolutely c r a w l i n g and gaim insists on quitting every fifteen seconds. If I was not born with at least half a brain, I would suspect some sort of astrological phenomenon working on spoiling Mondays for everybody.

On other fronts, I used BitTorrent yesterday. BitTorrent is a relatively new file-downloading protocol that works by dividing large files into chunks and getting downloaders to download certain chunks from other downloaders and simultaneously upload other chunks to them. It is designed to stop leeching by enforcing a download rate that is matched by the upload rate. Pretty elite. Here are my impressions of using it to download Gollum's Acceptance Speech at MTV Movie Awards:

Installation
I'm using RedHat 9 and therefore used the RPM available here (I used BitTorrent-3.2_cvs_alikins-2.noarch.rpm). BitTorrent is coded in python and therefore you should already have python pre-installed.

Configuration
Dude, there's like no configuration involved unless you want to run a BitTorrent server.

Using BitTorrent
Much of the documentation online is dedicated towards running a BitTorrent server (eg creatting a .torrent file etc). I was only interested in downloading files distributed via the BitTorrent protocol.

Not having a good guide, I checked the files installed by the RPM and noticed several btdownload-*.py files:
btdownloadcurses.py, btdownloadgui.py, btdownloadheadless.py. The filenames indicate clearly enough the mode of operation of the files. The GUI program requires WxPython which I did not have. I tried using the curses version but that screwed up the display. I finally used the headless version and that worked dandy.

How Long Did The Download Take?
The download was bloody fast. I, a jaded user of various downloaders, was very impressed. I think it took less than fifteen minutes - pretty good considering that it was doing an upload simultaneously. Being a good citizen of the Internet, I left the client running after the download had completed so that others could download from me.

How Was Gollum's Speech?
Overrated. The starting was OK but the part where he started cursing really put me off. Your mileage may vary.

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Idle Chatter.
Posted by: Admin on Sunday, June 08, 2003 - 03:31 PM
The Walrus's Blog Coding is bullshit. Chatting ain't.

(23:10:00) Ditesh: hey that day on convo day your bestest fren was asking for you
(23:10:07) sorcerer_low: playa
(23:10:11) Ditesh: no
(23:10:15) sorcerer_low: who ?
(23:10:30) Ditesh: let's play a guessing game
(23:10:35) Ditesh: hint
(23:10:35) sorcerer_low: clueeess
(23:10:38) Ditesh: it aint aguy
(23:10:43) sorcerer_low: julea ?
(23:10:46) Ditesh: no lar
(23:10:50) sorcerer_low: whops
(23:10:52) sorcerer_low: hehe
(23:10:58) sorcerer_low: hmmmm
(23:11:01) Ditesh: first person u think of is julea
(23:11:04) Ditesh: doink!
(23:11:05) sorcerer_low: hehe
(23:11:11) sorcerer_low: doink
(23:11:12) sorcerer_low: hehe
(23:11:39) Ditesh: cannot think ah?
(23:11:44) sorcerer_low: no ler
(23:11:48) sorcerer_low: who eh
(23:11:50) Ditesh: ok i give u another hint
(23:11:50) sorcerer_low: hmmm
(23:11:54) sorcerer_low: right
(23:11:57) Ditesh: its a short chinese girl
(23:12:25) sorcerer_low: i dunno any short chinese girl
(23:12:29) sorcerer_low: unless from mas
(23:12:36) Ditesh: aiyoh
(23:12:39) Ditesh: ok i give u another clue
(23:12:41) sorcerer_low: now that is a short chinese girl
(23:12:46) Ditesh: she's a short FOE chinese girl
(23:13:04) Ditesh: ok another clue
(23:13:16) Ditesh: err
(23:13:27) Ditesh: you and her did a project together
(23:13:29) Ditesh: in uni
(23:13:37) sorcerer_low: lee hung leng ?
(23:13:41) Ditesh: YES SIR!
(23:13:43) sorcerer_low: dude
(23:13:53) sorcerer_low: that is a very beautiful short chinese girl
(23:13:57) Ditesh: ahh
(23:14:02) sorcerer_low: then i would have nailed it
(23:14:03) sorcerer_low: :)
(23:14:03) Ditesh: i forgot that important adjective
(23:14:37) sorcerer_low: how is she doing ?
(23:14:43) Ditesh: ok lar
(23:14:48) Ditesh: still very beautiful
(23:14:53) sorcerer_low: yups
(23:15:14) sorcerer_low: did li p'ing come ?
(23:16:17) Ditesh: ya lar
(23:16:24) Ditesh: her face appeared on the big screen
(23:16:29) Ditesh: lol
(23:16:34) sorcerer_low: y?
(23:16:43) Ditesh: just lar ... that cameraman itchified

Damn this bullshit, I'm gonna go code again.

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MMU Bloggers
*Suresh Gnasegarah (various)
*Mohanaraj (code)
*Lee Chern Hsing (personal)
*Thiruvarasu (personal)
*Kaviraj (personal)
*Sivanathan (soccer)
*Goh Sze Ying (personal)
*Annushia (personal)
*Low Kian Seong (personal)
Logandran (personal)
Suthen Thomas (personal)

Note:The text within the parentheses indicate the type of issues discussed in the blog. The asterisk indicates an actively updated blog.


Other Stories
· The Death of the Jain Mailing List. (Jun 19, 2003)
· This Site Was Down Earlier. (Jun 18, 2003)
· The Outing With The Tiny-Tots. (Jun 17, 2003)
· How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days. (Jun 15, 2003)
· The RSS Search Engine. (Jun 13, 2003)
· The Matafilter Project. (Jun 12, 2003)
· Project Petaling Street. (Jun 12, 2003)
· The RIAA Sues Student, Takes Life Savings. (Jun 09, 2003)
· Monday Monkey. (Jun 09, 2003)
· Idle Chatter. (Jun 08, 2003)

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Past Articles
Saturday, June 07
·The 2003 Australasian Debates. (0)
·Out With The Old, In With The New! (0)
Friday, June 06
·The Power of the Open Source Development Methodology. (0)
Tuesday, June 03
·The XMailServer. (2)
Monday, June 02
·Sit Down and Code, I Tell You!! (0)
Sunday, June 01
·There Is Not Enough Time. (0)
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·Interesting Stuff Happening Around the World. (0)
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Friday, May 30
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