Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I, the chief chef

It wont be easy for many people to believe that I could cook, but last night I tried this adventure once again.

The story started out with some heavy snacks in the evening that made me and Sandy very full. So we both were not interested in having a proper dinner. I planned to make something like omelet to carry on the night and avoid going out to a regular hotel. Later on it came out that even Sreedhar Anna was not willing to go out and Pyadu had also came to our place. So plan for my personal omelet got canceled and Anna suggested rice and egg-curry. Since it was Tuesday Pyadu could not have egg due to his own rule to do so. So rice could not be made plain. It had to be something that can go alone. So the Khichadi/Masala Rice was the only option.

Since Anna cannot even make a tea(he can at least boil the water which my some other friend cannot), it had to be me to take the charge of kitchen. It wasn't my first attempt to Khichadi. I had learned a bit about Indian style cooking by observing mom in kitchen sometimes. So I continued the charge for making Khichadi with a great support from Sandy, Anna and Pyadu who helped in cutting onions, tomatoes, chillies and things like that.

Earlier to this, Anna had a strong objection toward using Basmati rice which he believed was meant for only Biryani and any other dish would get spoiled due to it. Yet, since quantity of regular rice was not enough for four of use (at least I believed that due to my knowledge about our appetites), we had to mix some amount of Basmati rice to the regular one.

Since it was already getting late and an egg-curry would have taken much longer, we decided to go for egg-bhurji, sort of smashed egg omelet, I find it much better in taste than an omelet. So finally our dinner of khichadi and egg-bhurji was ready without any hassles or failure. As usual, Sandy joined the dinner much later only after cleaning the entire kitchen. The way he is committed towards cleaning the kitchen even before finishing the dinner, I guess he gets more fun in doing that than having the food itself.

Btw, Pyadu praised a lot about khichadi and its smell while Anna who claimed to eat a lot of khichadi liked the bhurji. I believe khichadi would have been even better if we had some extra spices and stuff like potatoes available in kitchen. As per my expectation, although the amount of rice cooked appeared huge initially, not a single particle of food was left uneaten by the end.

In praise of my work, I got awarded a khitaab of 'Khaansaama', meaning 'the chief chef'.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Weekend networking

Finally I got a dedicated line internet connection installed back home after what felt like extremely tedious and very long three weeks of application, call center talks, complaints and repairs. I had discontinued the same service(You Telecom) some time back due to same problems. But when I felt an urge for it on weekend trips to home, there was no other option available even after a year. I really wanted to give a try to Airtel connection this time. But anyways, the 'broadband' connection is up and giving a 15kbps download speed (out of expected 192kbps).

The cable modem I got with has two ports, one for ethernet cable and other for usb. When I asked their engineer if I can use these two lines to connect two machines at a time, he denied and said it would need a router. That didn't answer my curiosity about two lines and I gave it a try. My Fedora 8 machine picked up an IP which is strangely not belonging to the modem's network. But after setting up the pppoe connection I could ping one of the servers. Still it did not connect to any other site. Looked like a DNS problem. Not sure if it was a problem with my NetworkManager or it was the server side. But I had to configure the DNS manually. Finally both my machines are connected using single modem without router, contradictory to the service provider's engineer.

But the real problem started thereafter. The very reason I tried all the tricks to get my f8 machine connected was to use the vpn configured on it. For no obvious reason than having a bad luck day, my vpnc kept on complaining "no response from target". After getting a helping hand from some of the online sysadmin friends and googling about it I got to a conclusion that it is most likely a problem from ISP side. They have blocked the VPN!

Now why would an ISP block VPN connections? Why don't they want me to work for my office from home? Are they getting any kind of business model out of it? You will have to pay extra if you want to use our network for business work. In fact hotels, cyber cafes etc. can also block such services and release them under a name of VAS to earn some extra pennies.

I am not sure if my ISP has such plans but I certainly have a plan to call them next morning.

Prior to all these, yesterday I learned on slashdot that one of the largest telecom company in India is planning to setup a massive WiMax connectivity over some cities. Now that wimax is all fine and a free Wifi is still a dream, what I really wait for is a 3G service. Last time I heard about it was, it got stuck due to politics over license between government telecom companies and private ones. Whatever it was, I am more curious to use the Video Calling feature on my cell phone.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Cursor size and Telugu

Assuming you are using a Gnu/Linux box with input methods(mostly scim) available to input many of the Indic scripts and have Lohit fonts installed. Open gedit and start typing anything. Now keep changing the keyboard layout to write something in each language say Marathi, Gujarati, Gurmukhi, Tamil and so on. Don't worry if you don't know the languages, just type garbage. You will notice that most of the scripts supported by Lohit fonts are more or less scaled to each other.

Now try typing Telugu. Still the size is scaled? Yes, they look matched in size. But did you notice the hight of that cursor? This is an issue with Telugu that even though the font on average looks scaled properly, the cursor size is not. And thus the spacing between two lines is also unexpectedly large. Of course you can reduce the size of the cursor by reducing font size, but it still remains out of proportion to the glyph sizes and thus giving ugly line spacing.

It appears that the cursor size is determined by Pango depending upon the highest and lowest glyph present in the font. So I played around with glyph sizes and cursor sizes. When I added an extra long (fake) glyph into a normal sized font, the resulting cursor size for such a font was proportional to this longest glyph. When removed this glyph, the cursor size returned to normal.

In case of Telugu, too many glyphs appear to go beyond a normal hight and depth. I don't know how often these glyphs are used and how important are they. Fixing the problem means truncating or scaling down these awful glyphs. But I am not sure which of them can be truncated or scaled down how much and so on. This will need a help of both the language expert and a calligrapher. Hope someone redesigns this font in a better way.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Rendering Recommendations draft

So finally, I am giving out this long awaited draft:

It addresses some of the OpenType, Unicode and fonts related issues. Many of the issues discussed here, have been the source of conflicts, especially for ml_IN. Thus it was an utter need to provide a detailed analysis like this. I hope the illustrations made there provide some common guidelines. There is certainly a scope for improvement. I would like to hear from various communities if they want some of the other left out issues to be also addressed.
The draft is open for discussion and feedback.