Dell moves to AMD!

Dell has decided to use AMD's opteron processor for its server machines. I never thought Dell would move away from Intel.

I have had several discussions with my friends from Intel and AMD. They are unable to confirm if one is really better than the other. In almost all cases, the choice seems to be on personal experiences of some people. For non-geeky users, perhaps, Dell's loyalty to Intel might have been one of the reasons that people thought Intel was better.

I wonder if it really matters, especially for the non-geeky user. I have used a desktop with Intel and another with AMD processor at my home. I am unable to say one of them is better than the other.

Spy Game

I saw "Spy game" with Manoj, Meenakshi Iyer and Vijay Srivatsan last Sunday. I still don't understand why some of my friends like this movie so much. I guess I need to see it again to understand the plot and some of the problems that I have:

  1. Why do the Chinese need, Brad Pitt, an American, to help treat cholera?
  2. When did Hongkong have a US Embassy? I don't see any listed at the US Embassy website
  3. Why does the movie end at dawn (early morning)? The operation "dinner out" (great name, BTW) took place close to 8:00 am Eastern time. Was the prison somewhere on the west coast of the United States?

I have to meet Manoj and discuss this movie again!

Finally, I spilt coffee on my notebook – Dell Latitude D610

I have a Dell Latitude D610 (works like a charm). After several years of spilling coffee everywhere except for my notebook, this morning, I spilled it on the keyboard.

I disconnected the power supply and wiped all the water (coffee) from the keyboard. I opened up the notebook using screwdrivers from the next-door lab (My lab in Mechanical Engineering does not have the correct tools!).

As I switched it on, I could hear a very distinct humming coming from the display. This was unexpected because the entire display is a disassemblable (for the layman) assembly. I did not know of a way of opening it up!

Finally, after trying cold-shots from a hair dryer, etc., I used the age old cleaning technique. I wedged a thin paper into the gap between the screen and the assembly. It came out wet (not drenched). Two iterations, and my notebook is back to normal.

This process has cleaned up my notebook and the keyboard looks (and feels new).

I have to buy a new mug for my coffee now!

Football, Cricket, Aakash Chopra, “All studies and no play”

Once again, Aakash Chopra comes out with another thoughtful article. At least thoughtful in the way it has been written. In an attempte to understand the lack of Asians in the English football league, he explains:

It’s taken a while to get a consensus on the “real” reason for the lack of Asians in football — and it’s a bit of a stunner. Even though football is by far the number one sport in England and footballers rake in the big bucks, it was considered a poor man’s sport till a while ago, somewhat rowdy and not quite stiff upper lip!

It took about two generations for life to get back on track and for Asians to relax. In these years, the face of football has dramatically altered. And many immigrants from the 1960s are now part of the English upper class and encouraging their kids to follow their dreams.

The whole article, as all of his other ones, is worth a read.

It takes me to my childhood. As a kid, I grew up as in a middle-class family in a middle-class environment. I did not see a single child that was ever encouraged to take up any sport – not even cricket. The life-style is such that our parents always wanted to minimize the risks of our failure. Good education was the only way that they (I) could (can) think of. It has not changed much even now in India. Kids, typically, do not work while in school/college. One of the many reasons for this is that parents want them to devote all their time to studies – they fear and know that sometimes life gives you only one chance and the result of just one failure can be devastating when you are one in 1 billion.

First man or woman

Several discussions center around finding a “deeper meaning” to the fact that almost all creation stories have a first man, or a man and a woman.

However, I think this might just be an easier explanation to cover up the lack of a more convincing one to explain the origin of the species! It is quite possible that anyone, who does not have the right explanation might end up thinking, “Perhaps, there was one man and one woman to start with!”

Why I moved to Microsoft Windows from Linux

Inspite of all the opposition, Microsoft Windows XP has been a good OS to me. On Linux, I faced several problems that I overcame one after the other (because I could use information about how others overcame it!). One example is the use of WPA technology for wireless cards. And I still liked Linux quite a lot!

Recently though, I moved to Microsoft Windows completely for three reasons:
1. Linux does not have any software that provides editing facilities anywhere close to Adobe Acrobat. I have moved to paperless writing and reading, and this facility is a MUST!
2. Development of a native port of KDE for windows has started. So, why should I not have Microsoft Windows and its advantages, along with all the advantages that KDE provides?
3. University of Michigan will recognize only RedHat Linux Enterprise 4, or Fedora Core 4 (and above) as "safe" operating systems (of course Windows XP professional SP2 is also accepted). If I use anything else, I would need a department approved hardware router. I don't like RHEL4 and FC5. I like Ubuntu Linux. But, I cannot use it. So, I don't want to use anything else.

California High School Exit Exam

I just happened to see Lou Dobbs Tonight on May 11th. The item that caught my attention is about the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE)

To get a diploma for passing the 12th grade, California students have to take the CAHSEE. Asking the students to prove their abilities through an exam before they proceed to a 4-year college program seems to make perfect sense.

The problem seems to be that the program overview says:

The CAHSEE has two parts: English-language arts (ELA) and mathematics. The ELA part addresses state content standards through grade ten … The mathematics part of the CAHSEE addresses state standards in grades six and seven and Algebra I.

What I fail to understand is why 12th grade students are being tested for:
1. anything less than 12th grade exams, AND
2. only Math and English!

Concatenated Bengali last names

Two things about an eastern state of India, West Bengal, surprise me:

1. Why is it still called West Bengal, when East Bengal has been renamed to Bangladesh and is not even a part of India?

2. The Bengalis have very peculiar last names (surnames). At one end are surnames such as Sen, Gupta, Dutta, Choudhary, Ghosh, Maulik, Das, Roy. At the other end are concatenated surnames – Sengupta, Duttachoudhary, Ghoshmaulik, Dasgupta, Roychoudhary. Sometimes these names are written in mixed cases, e.g., Roychoudhary or RoyChoudhary. Sometimes even with a space, e.g., Ghoshmaulik or Ghosh Maulik (with the space!)

Why do we demand unhappiness in the life of the famed?

Ever since I saw “Joseph Cambell and the The Power of Myth,” I have been wondering why it is that we, the common public, literally demand that people like today’s scientists, actors, etc. should go through a deep sorrowful state.

Every discussion about the person ends with discussion of how she/he faced problems, etc. We never hear someone saying: “Well, scientist XYZ got the best education and he had a very happy personal and professional life and by the way, he also made this very important contribution to science.”

This especially true of the stars – the famous people.

Do we understand that we all have our shares of ups and downs and so it is impossible to find someone without any downs? Glamor is highlighted and published, and so we concentrate on finding the sorrows; the personal life – much like the search for Charles Foster Kane’s Rosebud.

Do we, as humans, have a tendency to believe that given perfect conditions, achieving greatness is not great in itself?

Do we believe that “ups” cannot exist if there are no “downs?”

Along with the above, we are in the constant search for heroes everywhere, and mythology has influenced our thinking. Somewhere inside us (even if we haven’t studied Campbell), we have an idea of what is expected of a hero. So, if we have to believe that someone is famous (or a hero), we search for the sorrow in his/her life.