fedora 15 sucks

I have been using fedora 15 for the last few months, but am unable to get my BSNL 3G to work. Why can't these clowns at redhat get their act together? My daughter had no problem with Fedora 14.

irctc madness

circa 2000 I registered an account with irctc. Since I did not have a credit card, I did not use the account for a long time and forgot about it. Several years later when I got a card, I registered afresh and was using the account regularly. The other day the account got deactivated. I tried to register afresh - error, email id already registered. I tried with a different email id - error, mobile number already registered. I mailed customer care and they told me that by creating 2 accounts with the same email id/mobile number, I am in breach of the terms and conditions of the website and hence am banned - I am now waiting for the railway police to turn up with handcuffs.

summer meet starts tomorrow

The annual summer meet is going to take off. This will be the first time Ooty and Coimbatore will be using the USGA handicaps and controls. The software is working perfectly - let us hope my game also works perfectly.


I haven't posted anything for over 3 months. Partly I have been hectically busy, and after I left facebook somehow have a block about posting *anywhere*. So here I go again.

the fifth freedom

Traditionally foss is defined by the 4 freedoms - but seeing the abuse of the GPL by closet merchants and bogus software vendors who release watered down versions of their proprietary products as bait to get one to buy them, I feel that a 5th freedom should be added:

4: The freedom to have the source code of the software you use to be available on a public repository on the internet backed by a full community accessible support structure.

Of course, anyone who uses software where he does not have this freedom is an idiot who deserves whatever happens to him, but if this was added then it can be used to educate people.

the light has gone out - continued

I heaved a huge sigh of relief and said 'I thought you were going to throw me off the course for wearing jeans'. He burst out laughing and said 'I will' - and he lifted me, carried me 10 yards and dumped me off the fairway.

That was his way - everyone felt that they had a special relationship with him. I have approached him innumerable times with problems, things that I felt were not being done right. He would listen, carefully analyse and argue. We had many heated arguments, but he was always ready to admit he was wrong and change his mind. When I got through the referees exam, he congratulated me and then confessed quite frankly that he had gone to Scotland and attempted the exam a couple of times but failed. Even with his vast experience and instinctive knowledge of the game, he found the vagaries of the English language too difficult to master in order to pass the exam. On any question of rules, he never jumped to conclusions, he would study the books, listen carefully to arguments, argue and come to a conclusion - he was rarely wrong.

In the enforcement of rules - he was strict, almost ruthless when it came to breach of etiquette and cheating. Quite a few players who had been caught cheating or manipulating their handicaps were handed bans of 3 to 6 months. And he was harsh on himself also, during one tournament I saw him striding back to the club house with steam coming out of his ears. What had happened? His caddy had found his ball in a bush and had moved it to a more favourable lie. Some players would accept this with eyes closed, most would scold the caddy and take the penalty - but only Captain would instantaneously take the responsibility and disqualify himself and leave the course. I have been hauled up before the committee any number of times - and have hauled up others too. The enquiries were always conducted with the utmost attention to detail and fairness and courtesy to the parties concerned. At the same time whenever I used to make flippant remarks, he would laugh - but that would not distract him from the point in question. I was lucky - disqualified a few times for honest mistakes, but never banned, suspended or even reprimanded.

In the days to come I will try to recall some of the more interesting incidents. No time today. I think the last time I met him was when I was refereeing a tournament in Coimbatore - he had come to watch. I remember discussing the water treatment plant between the 8th hole and the 3rd fairway. For some reason it had been marked as a lateral water hazard which gave a player who looses his ball in the water a chance to be on in 3. In the first place, no player has any business going there unless he plays a rank bad shot. Water hazards are supposed to be in the fairway or just off it. In all fairness this tank should be declared as an integral part of the course. He agreed with me - I do not know if it was implemented.

He was the embodiment of the spirit of golf - though he is no more, I sure the spirit lives on in the thousands of lives he touched in his long career.

to be continued

the light has gone out over the Ooty golf course

Last evening a meeting of the tournament committee was interrupted with the news that our beloved Captain who had been fighting cancer for some time was sinking. Although some people wanted to call of today's tournament, we decided that Captain would not wish it - in fact he would have expected us to play regardless of whether he was alive or not. But we decided to play - and if he passed away during the match we would pay our respects in the place he loved best and then call off the match. Morning came with news that he was still lingering on, so we teed off. Some how I was hoping for a miracle - and with my thoughts on him I wasn't worrying about my swing and was playing beautifully. After 5 holes I felt that it would be ok. As I was lining up my approach shot to the 3rd green the siren wailed. I was not sure whether it was the club siren or the HPF siren. Then it wailed again. And again. We picked up our balls and walked back to the club house. The long line of golfers from every part of the course walking back to the club house with heads bowed is a sight I will never forget. Somehow I was hoping it was still a mistake, but when I saw the club flag flying at half mast the reality sank in. There was a ceremony planned at the club house, but I could not bring myself to attend. I came home and am sitting here to pay my personal tribute to a great man. The newspapers will be full of his history and achievements, so I will not mention them here. All I want to record here is how my life was touched by his greatness - and I hope by recalling it some of his wonderful spirit would have rubbed off on me.

I first met Captain back in 2000 when I was interviewed for club membership. At that time I was of the opinion that the clubs in India were populated with brown englishmen wearing suits and eating with knife and fork. But I wanted to play golf - so I had to become a member of the club. The club has two classes of members - golfing members, who pay less, and social members who pay more. So a lot of bogus bandicoots apply under the golfing category and Captain was strict on making sure the applicants were genuine. Ashok coached me up on the diameter of the ball and the radius of the hole and the proportion between the vertical and horizontal measurements of the club head. Moolchand had proposed me and he told me I would have to wear a suit. Too much. Anyway I compromised and told him I would wear a blazer which I took from his shop - I still have not paid for it though. I was nervous, so played a round of golf before the interview (nothing like a round of golf to soothe the nerves). Then I put the blazer over my tee shirt and was ready for the interview. Moolchand was not happy - but I told him that his attire would cancel out my plebian look. When my name was called, I was in panic - I had forgotten the diameter of a golf ball. But at the head of the table was Captain - having just finished his round he was in a tee shirt. And he asked me just one question: 'Why do you want to play golf?' And I said: 'the doctor recommended exercise so I took it up - and then one day I hit a 230 yard drive and was hooked'. He laughed and said:'I will bet anything that you never hit another like that'. I said: 'yes - but my day will come'. End of interview.

So I was a member, but I felt that the yardages of the course were not right, so I borrowed a GPS instrument from my godson Pavan and tried to check the yardages. In those days (2002) I was getting wildly innacurate readings. One day when I was banging my head in the bar in frustration, Captain asked me what was wrong. I told him. He didn't say anything.

A week later I was playing a round. When I was putting on the 17th, I realised that I was inadvertently wearing blue jeans - which those idiots who run IGU had banned - and the ban had been enforced in OGC. I was complacent until I hit my second shot on the 18th. Go for my third shot and find Captain practicing putting on the 15th. How to escape? I decided to hit my 3 wood OB and escape via the ladies tee. In the stupid way golf balls have the OB shot landed 2 feet from the pin. I putted out for par and saw Captain was summoning me from the 15th. How the hell did he detect my jeans from 150 yards? I was thinking maybe he won't suspend me if I promise good behavour in the future. Anyway I approached him as lamb to slaughter, and he hugged me with his iron hands and said: 'I have brought my laser range finder - it is in the clubhouse - get the course marked.'

to be continued ...

an interesting way to use the GPL

As we all know, software is not a commodity to be bought and sold. The attempt to treat it like a commodity has caused a huge number of problems as well as colossal waste of money and programmers time. So the foss movement was started so that software can be shared freely across the world. And many licenses came into being in order to have some sort of regulation of this sharing to see that it is not abused. There are 40-50 licenses of this sort and they vary a lot - but all of them have one thing in common: they presuppose release of software to the public and availability of the source code. The business model changes - instead of selling software as a commodity, one shares the software and sells service, customisation, support, hosting ... however one bright spark has found a loophole in the GPL. What he does is hide in a closet and develop his software. Then he GPL's it (whatever that means). Then he goes and sells to the customer. The customer, having paid a good sum for it is not going to give to any one else free, so the GPL is as good as any other EULA. Then our friend goes and sells the same package to another bakra - same price, same results. And he goes on and on - proprietary mode of development, proprietary mode of deployment - but all kosher according to the GPL. I think V4 of the GPL may have to be amended to plug this perversion of the idea of foss.

This reminds me of what happens in the govt sector. Government of one state decides to computerise land records on linux platform. Some big company wins the contract, gets paid crores and delivers - source code is handed over under some agreement. Government keeps it secret. Then the same company gets a contract for the same thing from another state - same price, same hand over, same secrecy - and then the third state ... so three states pay public funds for the same thing. And it is quite possible for this to happen while GPLing the software in each case. Actually what should happen is that State A pays for it, releases it and the other states spend for customisation and deployment and not rewriting the same thing. The above scenario actually happened, although I have not named the states or the company.

So what does one mean by distributing software? what does the 'P' in GPL stand for? Yes, the above is probably in accordance with the letter of the law - but is a complete travesty of the spirit of foss.