Atul Chitnis is no more

As the friendship, knowledge and wisdom that he created lives on, each of us are left with our own devices to cope:

na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin; nāyaḿ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
ajo nityaḥ śāśvato 'yaḿ purāṇo; na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre

For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being.
He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.

RIP old friend, you will be missed.

Taste of Kerala

The most interesting series that I've recently discovered on Youtube is Amrita TV's Taste of Kerala series. Unfortunately, you need to be able to understand spoken Malayalam to be able to enjoy the programming, but if you do, you are in for a treat.

The intent is to travel around Kerala (and amusingly enough parts of the US) getting local and regional special dishes cooked by families and individuals. The effect is spectacular, with this week's uploads providing a good glimpse into why this is addictive:I check this weekly. The episodes where the host travels to the US are specifically amusing: salt dispensers, the relative size of onions and dried coconut flakes are amongst the things I take for granted, but are still unusual from an Indian perspective.

Complete unknown

Here are three things:

Shah Rukh Khan is frisked at the airport.
Bob Dylan is detained for suspicious loitering.
Ravi Shankar, a Central Connecticut State University professor of English (Indian and 6 feet 2 inches, 200 pounds) is arrested on a warrant for a 5'10" 140 pound white male in New York.

Which of these did you hear about?

Sailing by Panama

So with Bing being behind Yahoo's search, many pieces of the Panama project that I worked on will be put to rest.

When I first read that a full 1/3 of the software that gets built never gets used, I initially naively believed that it would not be true for me. I guess a system being used for a little while is still better than not at all.

Youtube JP prank videos

Please do not do this when you are near a drink that can spill over you or have something important to go to do. This will make you waste considerable time, but nearly all of it laughing.

Someone at work mentioned an amazing prank that involved a porta-potty in a park being reconfigured so that it then eventually opened into into a meeting in progress. That lead to a whole series of pranks that this Japanese TV show carries out.

None of these I suspect would be possible anywhere in the US. Even then, someone suing for a considerable amount of money is a given.

Redfin is profitable

Among the many things recently that I've found very surprising, some real estate agents refuse to work with you (aka show their listings) if you indicate that you found their listing on Redfin. How self defeating can you get? There's a 3% of profit out there if you take the trouble to show homes to people who are interested in them. If you don't, someone will eat your lunch for you.

I sometimes wish I could post up a list of agents who gave me a tirade on why the Internet Is Bad for their business and how I'm a horrible person for using Redfin. For a moment, consider this: you are the seller and your (friend/buddy/colleague) tells you that your agent just spoke to a prospective buyer in that manner. What do you think is likely to happen? Do you really want to do that?

I'm thrilled with Redfin, I couldn't find a smarter, better and well thought out site. I'm also thrilled about the announcement that Redfin is profitable. I liked their seminars, they were clever and pointed out why working with them is good; but didn't act all clingy and creepy and force you to work with them. I think this techcrunch is dead on here, if I was in the traditional real estate industry, I'd be shuddering as well.

3 days to the Palm Pre

If history is anything to go by, then in about 3-6 months, the initial kinks get worked out and the price gets a little bit more realistic.

My old Treo 680 is steadily going downhill (battery charging for a start). I suspect I might just have to go to a iPhone if there is no unlocked GSM option (I'm on ATT) for the Pre.

Admittedly, I've never even turned on the iPod I got after Panama, so the Apple gadget fear runs deep....

Interesting Election results coverage

After much work, I tried to get NDTV Live to watch the election results (mostly due to old memories of elections with Prannoy Roy). Perhaps it's me, but the older NDTV appeared much more professional, cool and sophisticated. Perhaps, it's just that I've gotten older and I can see how they are making mistakes or it's just that they just prefer to interrupt people all the time now....

The other interesting point was that this election was the first one after the census based delimitation exercise. The first elections for "urban" India (yes, I know that some of my friends will get after me, India still lives in it's villages, but the shift is well underway). The most compelling data point for me is that the national parties are back. All talk of elections being local and nothing else, split, narrow  and parochial are rather unfounded.