Monday, August 29, 2011

Dump Windows. Use Linux (Ubuntu)

It feels great. Exactly same time two weeks ago, I was writing my post on Microsoft Windows. I dumped it. Now, I am writing on Linux (Ubuntu 11.04).

Why I switched? Well, various reasons. First, it is concept of freedom that Linux carries. Second, I am fed up with windows especially pirated software (I had licensed Windows though. But we hesitate to pay Office Suite/Anti-Virus etc. $***** right?). Third is to support Open Source-FOSS movement [Yes, I mean open here not free] and to get source code myself.

With the help of my Software Developer cum philosopher friend, Linux mission finally completed with installation of Ubuntu 11.04 on my machine. To my surprise, it is beyond my expectation. Most people believe Linux is for geeks, they are simply wrong. General users can use it if they can use Windows. (Ubuntu distro obviously)

LibreOffice does everything MS Office can do. I am writing this post on LibreOffice Word and No I don't miss MS Word. Word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, drawing, using formula all piece of cake.

For video and audio needs, there is VLC Media player that plays almost every formats we see there. Firefox is default browser. Tomboy do all the note taking jobs. Evolution handles E-mail, calender and To-Dos.

Most useful feature is that you don't have to install drivers for USB Data travellers and Mobile phones. No drivers required as in windows. Even no installation required. Simply plug-in and play. You can connect to USB Netconnect and Mobile Broadband/GPRS without any installation, which is if you ask me...Super COOL.

And you know another coolest thing? You don't get viruses on Linux. If you have suffered from virus attacks (I am sure, you are), format it. Reinstall. Not Windows. (Imagine you don't need to pay for regular medical check-up. Healthy forever.)

In addition to all these features that really well compete with Windows, I find it faster than Windows. It starts faster, it's better and Ubuntu 11.04 Unity feature looks sexy. So, why not switch to Linux?

  1. Only thing I miss is OneNote. (No. I don't mean Windows. But Office OneNote was one application that was very very useful and alternative is not yet developed for Linux.)
  2. I use Linux 99.99% of my total computer use. I do have Windows along with Linux, but I no more use it. No more viruses please.
  3. Ubuntu disro is most famous Linux. Latest version 11.04 [They named it Natty Narwhal]

Ubuntu Software Center makes installing applications easier than on Windows. Simply search and click install. All done. Net connection required. But, if you are voracious machine user and do lots of tweaks, then all the software needed might not be available there. Downloading form other sites and installing seems quiet time consuming.
You read this post? Really? Then Dump Windows, Use Linux.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I Don't Fu**ing Care About the 'Caste'

Two of the deeply rooted caste based societies are South Asia (Some parts of greater Asia too) and Africa. Being a South Asian, I have learned how to survive in the fragmented society.

In my childhood, I was not supposed to eat with other friends who came from lower caste. Over the time I have tried to forget all things related to 'caste'. Nowadays, I don't even care about it. Recently, I met one of my close school friend. He is pursuing undergraduate course at a famous college. We talked about our old school days, the fun we used to have and plan for the future. Later he told me that he hasn’t revealed his caste/last name to his college mates.

Why? I used to think that thing called 'caste' is slowly fading away. I still do. My conversation with that friend rather showed gloomy picture. He says that there are still mental harassment. And that’s too among young people. A WTF moment of my life!

Looking on history pages, it is clear that most of southern/eastern caste system was created for interdependence. Certain task was assigned to certain group. This sounds great. But later, same economic system became base of our fragile society. Those who were assigned high profile knowledge based jobs became Brahmins. Skilled workers and army men came after them. Rest poor, minority and uncategorized got tagged as 'untouchable'.

New India's liberal leaders fought against this system and made 'untouchability' illegal. But story doesn't end here. India is one of the notorious countries for caste based harassment.  (Note: I still do wonder and praise this nation for communal harmony though)

Apart from social issues, I have another reason to hate the system. Our caste based system prohibits creativity and innovation. When job of Brahmin is only to read bhajans and of Shudra is to supply labor, nowhere can we think of innovation. Creativity is beautiful thing, and often hard to find. When knowledge of various fields is combined with day to day work/experiment (Or call it labor/work/skills), there we can expect continuous improvement and innovation. Knowledge + Skills = Innovation. Western society is built on this foundation. Our society is fragmented, thus no innovation.

Rise of caste based politics is worst thing we can expect in 21st century. One of the worst example of caste politics is Nepal.  When Maoist were fighting against powerful state, the purely used caste on their advantage. They declared separate state for each and every caste out there, and persuaded to bomb the Kingdom. Interestingly, they somewhat succeeded. When warriors became rulers, they started to feel the pain. Now, the party and the whole country is fragile. And what Maoist can see further is their own graveyard. They have two choices, either to reincarnate or vanish. Their guru Mao hasn't got incarnation, so I don't expect them too. They might probably vanish.

New economic order demands greater interdependence. Only a fool can give/demand his identity based on 'caste'. An individual can truly feel safe and be happy in a casteless society.  In fact, that is true freedom. Same recipe that makes individual happy, makes country powerful.

Yet odds are all around. I met another friend in a cafĂ©. While talking, I came to know she is soon to be married. She also told me her family fully supports the plan. Why? "Because he comes from Brahmin family". Laughing my ass off. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lavasa: Future of the Future City

Last Sunday, I went to Lavasa for short summer ride. It is only 42 Kms far from Pune and almost 200 Kms from Mumbai. We were group of six people with three motor bikes on the road. We crossed the Pune-Mumbai Expressway bypass road and our trip kicked off in the morning.

Soon after about 10 Kms, it started to rain. It was heavy rain, so we took first break (I). There was a small tea shop. We were excited, tea didn't taste good, but we were loving it. Cool weather raining outside, good company and green views were all that mattered.

After almost 35 Kms, we stopped for second break (II). We took some photos. Then got grilled corns on roadside. We liked that, demanded more. There were so many people selling vegetables, fruits and corns all locally grown. Whole members of family were selling.

Finally we reached Lavasa (III) :) It was lunch time. First of all, we went for lunch.

This was the third time I visited the hill city. Last year in August, I went there for the first time. It was work in progress. Again I went there in January. Construction was stopped. It is still stopped 'work in progress'. Some court orders!

The newly planned Independent India's first hill city is facing some of the toughest setbacks. Issues like environmental clearance, land acquisition and corruption. Bombay High court had ordered to stop construction. The future city faces mainly two controversies.

First obviously is Environmental Damage: I think very few people agree with this one. I suggest anyone to visit Lavasa and observe it. The project has made it greener if it has done anything wrong at all. And you know who is Jairam Ramesh.

Second one is Land Acquisition. Well, this is controversial everywhere in developing countries except in China. This would not be so even if it was in State of Gujarat. Some NGOs are working hard to make on news headlines. I never came to understand what NGO/INGOs are meant for.

It's obvious, tremendous benefit will go to locals. Come back to my initial point. Locals are selling tea/coffee(I). They are getting money out of everything that can be produced in the area. (II) This is almost impossible if there was no Lavasa. We spent almost triple on that trip than we normally do in our city life (III) It directly went to local people's pocket. 

Interestingly, a recent Marathi movie was shoot in Lavasa. In the scene, I hear that a local girl meets super rich NRI and marries. Who is there to object? Events like this can happen. Billions of investment in a particular place is a big deal. Lavasa has built highway, offered employment to thousands of people contributing significant amount of GDP to Maharashtra.

This is very ambitious project; building entire new community out of nothing. They say even Oxford University is planning to set up India campus there. Infosys plans to develop it's own development center. These are just few examples. This is going to be place where 'global' will reach 'local'. Now, come up and tell to Mr. Ramesh that this is not his father's hard earned property.

PS. It is one of the best places for short summer ride from Pune and Mumbai. It drizzles daily. Greenery everywhere. You will love it. Plan your weekend!