Logical Solutions to Bangalore’s Traffic – Part V: Equipment for the cops

February 5th, 2013

…continuing from the previous post…

(and here’s the first part of the series)

The traffic police in Bangalore have got some shiny new toys. They’ve all got Blackberries and wireless printers for tickets. There’s the huge numbers of breath-alyzers and the shiny car mounted speed cameras.

But, and here’s the problem, their basic equipment is lacking. In Delhi, or Chennai, the traffic police have lighted batons which are used to indicate whether the vehicle should stop or go. Then there’s the problem with road signs and temporary barriers. The temporary road signs used by the traffic police are almost impossible to see unless you are right up against them.

And of course, the average traffic constable is equipped with nothing more than a whistle and maybe a lathi.

What we need to do is ensure all the cops have access to the latest technology. Why do the blackberries have to be only for the senior cops? I’m sure Micromax or one of the other lower cost android phone manufacturers would be happy to give away (or at nominal cost) a bunch of phones to the cops around the city.

But we also need an infrastructure backbone. The police information should be linked to the RTO, so stolen vehicles can be reported and found both by the cops and by the RTO when someone tries to register a stolen vehicle.

A beat constable should just be able to take a photo of a traffic offender and he should be sent a notice with the fine amount filled in. In fact this should be done automatically in most cases — why clog up the roads with challan filling and payments and behind the back bribes and all of that. Any offense — take a photo and automatically have a notice sent to the owner of the vehicle with photographic proof of the offense.

Apologies for the delay in putting up this final post.

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Nexus 7 and the android tablet ecosystem

February 1st, 2013

I received a Google Nexus 7 as my birthday present this year… Well not exactly birthday present since it was difficult to get a piece with all the hype and the Christmas season but I’ve had it for a couple of months now and I have some clear views about the device and the Android ecosystem.

Well as I was hoping to find a good deal on a Nexus 7 (I’m a strong believer in the nexus line of products — nexus one and galaxy nexus before this), I also thought I’d look around the other tablets in the market to see if any of them would be good enough to buy instead of the Google tab.

But you see, the market is broken into three clearly distinct types of tablets… First are the ultra cheap range from a variety of manufacturers with terrible specifications and often terrible build quality, and secondly you have Apple and finally Samsung.

There are of course a few tablets here and there from Asus and Sony but they just have something or the other not quite right with them or are too expensive. Because if you price something above 25k you’re encroaching on Apple territory and you must provide something clearly better than the iPad range! I’m an android fan and much prefer the experience to the iOS world but if I were paying a bomb for a tablet (or a phone — but we have better choices there) I’d be hard pressed to find a tablet as clearly competent as the iPad for an equivalent price. The nexus 10 comes close but it’s not easy to find and I’m not looking for a 10 inch tablet. In fact none of the big names (Samsung aside) make a 7inch tablet that could even be considered competent. Lenovo is offering a single core tablet at 17-18k. And micromax and spice and the rest? Well I’d be lying if I felt the build quality was passable let alone the guts inside.

The reason I don’t want an iPad is, as I said earlier, I don’t like the ecosystem. I am a geek and I want the ability to fiddle around to my hearts content on how my device works and the kind of stuff I can do with it. I could jailbreak the iPad but with every update Apple would be trying to lock it down again. And I don’t appreciate how Apple is patenting rounded rectangles and suing everyone who uses them!

And so we come to Samsung. The big gorilla in the Android camp. Samsung makes more varieties of Android phones and tablets than anyone else in the market at prices from as little as 6k to as much as 50k. The issues I have with Samsung tablets are both practical and philosophical. Samsung has shown time and again that they do not really care for the developers who try and use their devices. If you follow anyone developing CyanogenMod (the custom ROM) for Samsung devices, it’s a tail of woe. And practically, none of the tablets made by Samsung are all that great (for their price). The most direct comparison to the Nexus 7 is the Galaxy Tab 2 7. Yes it’s 2 and 7 — indicating that it’s the 7inch version of the second release of the Galaxy Tab. It’s priced equivalently

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On sports and the gender divide

March 8th, 2010

Yesterday, a couple of unrelated activities brought out the difference between men and women in the world of sports, even today.

In the morning, I turned on the television to see if could catch the highlights of India’s defeat to England in the Hockey World Cup. (As an aside, I wish that India would not spend all it’s efforts to beat only Pakistan – there are other countries in the arena.) After the highlights were over, I idly flipped to the Australian LPGA ANZ Ladies Masters golf tournament.

Over the course of the tournament, which was incidentally won by Karrie Webb, I found that there were a few differences between the women’s game and the one infamously made unpopular again by Tiger Woods. The most obvious difference is that the course is shorter for the women than the men – expected, I suppose, considering that women are apparently unable to hit a golf ball as far as a man (I reserve judgement on this).

The second obvious difference is the clothing.

Here is Tiger Woods on one of his better days:

Tiger Woods in Swing

And here is one of the new golfer’s on the women’s circuit, Maria Verchenova, a top 10 finisher in the European Tour LPGA championship in Wales:

Maria Verchenova

Do I really need to say more?

And the third point that struck me was the commentary.

Here’s so and so on the 13th tee. She’s 7 under for the day and is sure of making the cut. And she’s wearing such a cute top and it matches so well with her earrings.

I’ve never ever seen a man dress sexy on the golf course and I’ve never never ever heard the commentators discuss his clothing before his tee shot.

But, moving on… in the evening I was invited by friends to join them at a karting zone near my house.

I like karting and it’s fun. Of course, yesterday was a Sunday and everyone and their uncle and their uncle’s three-year old kiddies were at the track, but that’s not what I wanted to point out. I don’t know if it was sheer coincidence, or whether it was something more common, but all the women who went out on track yesterday were almost always the slowest. Most of them were overtaken at least once by other drivers on track during the course of their six laps.

The men on the other hand were raring at the bit. One driver was so intent on being faster than anyone else on track, that he literally shoved another driver off track with his kart while squeezing in a non-existent gap.

Personally, I like the slower women to the over-rash men, but I prefer the fast-but-steady men to the blocking-up-the-track-slow women. Is that a gender bias or is that just common sense?

Is it wrong for women to dress sexy and talk about accessories as long as they play the game well?

What do you think? Considering today is International Women’s Day, I thought it may be an appropriate question.

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The Fireflies Festival of Sacred Music 2010

February 26th, 2010

It seemed like it was just a few weeks ago that I went for the 2009 Fireflies Festival. But just last week at the Fireflies Ashram I was at the Fireflies Ashram off Kanakapura Road attending the 2010 edition.

Last time it wasn’t part of the “Festivals of Sacred Music” and I didn’t hear any speeches or themes  although I may have missed them by going late. This time though there was a theme – “Environment and Climate Change” including a impassioned speech by Vandana Shiva about how we must be the change.

Still, the music and dance was the focus of the evening, and mostly it was really good.

By the time I reached there, the amphitheatre under the Banyan tree was crowded and Geeta Navale and Esperanto were playing their usual (very good) soul fusion.

Geeta Navale and Esperanto


And after they were done, we went and got some food to eat. This time, luckily there were more food stalls than last time, and the food didn’t run out! Of course, one of the food stalls was run by a bunch of guys who have a Cafe at Carlton Towers – I hope you guys are okay.

After this we managed to squeeze a place behind the huge towering speakers in the amphitheatre stage left. I wonder though, if there was not any other place to keep the speakers. Nearly 10 sq meters were wasted with the speakers and the line of sight blocked by them. And this time, it would have helped to be better placed, considering the organizers claimed an audience of 5000 people, double the previous outing.

Then we had Shabnam Virmani singing Kabir songs and explaining as she went along.

Shabnam Virmani

And then there was a folk dance from Karnataka, Hulivesha with the focus on Tigers (who would have guessed?).


Then we had Jalshaghar, who were missing for a bit – apparently interested in the offstage performance of Hulivesha. When they came on stage, the tabalchi decided that the audio problems (lots of people had complained about the mikes and the monitors) were so bad that he couldn’t perform. Here he is saying, “Sorry I can’t do this!”


Luckily the rest of the band was okay with the sound and went ahead. The tabalchi did return later, possibly realizing that he was being churlish!


Then one of the awaited bands of the night, Lounge Piranha. I had forgotten that they won the TFA awards in 2007, but their music was really good.

Lounge Piranha

I was also pleasantly surprised to find that they had a guest bass guitarist, because this was the first time I’ve seen a woman on the bass guitar at an event like this.

Lounge Piranha

Prakash Sontakke performed his fusion music; one of the regulars at Fireflies, it seems, and with good reason.

Prakash Sontakke

Then we had Bharat Sargam Group performing Qawali. Starting up with a few shayris to warm up the evening, they soon had a good thing going. The guy at the tambourine was going great guns as you can see!

Bharat Sargam Group

They were so good, that the crowd went wild especially during the performance of Dum Mast Kalandar. Some people got on stage and had to be politely asked to leave. And when it was over, they kept clamouring for more. Not that it did any good – there were more bands to come and they seemed to be running a hour late as usual!

Crowds at fireflies during Qawali

Once the hullabaloo died down, another regular band at fireflies came on – the Kerala folk song group playing on bamboo instruments – Vayali. And the crowd loved them as well.


By this time it was getting to 5 and we still had a few bands to go. Up next were Low Rhyderz, a rap/hip-hop/reggae band from Bangalore. They came on wearing their “style” statement – baggy shorts, oversized t-shirts, white Nikes and the reggae hairstyles – but had no style when it came to music.

Low Rhyderz

Their music was so bad that we decided to leave. And we weren’t the only ones. While the band was urging the audience to “clap, clap”, I overheard a gentleman next to me on the way out saying “crap, crap!”

While we could have stayed through to the end, the unrelenting badness (and not in the good bad way) of the band persuaded us to avoid hanging on for another hour or so till they took the hint and got off the stage. I’m not sure why bands in India trying to be hip-hop or rap bands can’t be better than this.

So, as the dawn began to rise, we made our long way back to civilization.

P.S. Even though I really enjoyed it, I did wonder at the wastefulness of an event touted to bring awareness of climate change to the people. Not only the obvious energy expenditure but the neighbouring farms being cleaned up for parking and the basic fact of at least a thousand bikes and cars driving thirty or forty kilometers to watch the event. Maybe next time, a big bus?

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Jimmy Carter talks about how religion subjugates women

July 17th, 2009

Recently on the Guardian, former American President Jimmy Carter has written an article “The words of God do not justify cruelty to women.” He talks about why he left his church, the Southern Baptist, because the leaders ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands.

He goes on to say: It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and out-dated attitudes and practices – as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

Way to go Jimmy!

Jimmy Carter is now a part of the community of Elders, an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.

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Freedom anyone?

June 27th, 2009

Recently, on Slashdot, a member from the UK asked the question “Which country should I move to?” His point being that the UK is becoming increasingly less free, and he wants to know which country would be better.

Of course, the more common answers were Canada and the Nordic Countries, but it was pointed out that most countries have varying degrees of lack of freedom.

There was also the debate about Iran being so bad, so why should you worry – which was commented down, luckily.

In India, we have a worse problem. We’re not really a free country, no matter what our guiding principles may be, but we have even less chance of being able to get out. Most countries in the world have increasingly tighter laws against immigrating Indians, and of course, there’s the whole world of racial prejudice against the brown man.

Maybe the best solution is to try and fix our problems ourselves. At least support human freedom in all forms. Join the Queer Pride Parade on Sunday.

Categories: bangalore, india, life, personal, politics | 1 Comment

Live long and prosper!

June 18th, 2009


So, finally, I got to see the new Star Trek movie. And the best part was that I watched it in a proper movie hall – not one of these itty bitty 100-seater tiny multiplex large screen home-theatre jinks.

I have always been a fan of the original Star Trek  – more so than any other SciFi programming out there.

Why? Primarily because I prefer to read my SciFi and secondly because most SciFi films and TV serials are either too cheesy and filled with only action/sex/idiotic robots or too complex to be attempted without some form of interactivity with the audience. (Actually I can’t really think of a SciFi flick that was too complex – any suggestions?)

Star Trek : TOS (The Original Series, as it’s apparently now known, in order to distinguish it from the Next Generation, Voyager, Explorer… whatever, you get the idea), was brilliantly conceptualized by Gene Roddenberry in 1964. Some of the obvious devices in the series included the Warp Drive (faster than light propulsion) and a variety of alien encounters. But some of the more unique features were the teleporter and the logic-over-emotion Vulcan species.

But my biggest draw in terms of the series itself was the fact that most technology was a theoretically logical progression from our times and most critically, this technology was rarely more important than the people who used them.

Of course, for a ten-year old boy watching Sunday television on Doordarshan, there were the usual cheesy fights; the fact that Capt. Kirk was a mostly lousy fighter who always managed to hang on to the cliff edge but still get the girl at the end; the brilliant single-eyebrow lift of Spock (which I learnt to imitate to show off – now I can do both eyebrows independently!); Bone’s corny “He’s dead, Jim!”; and all the shots of the crew members throwing themselves at the corridor walls to indicate the ship under attack!

The new movie manages to keep the spirit of the series alive, without being too much of a by-the-numbers kind of film. Using a slightly illogical plot-device of an alternate time-line being created due to a supernova meeting with red matter – the movie sets itself in a world similar to yet different from the world of TOS.

James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) finds himself born in a escape pod after his father dies battling the villain Nero (Eric Bana) and turns into a wild young man who is persuaded to join the Starfleet after a fight with a bunch of cadets. He manages to be Kirk without being overshadowed by William Shatner’s original portrayal, but doesn’t really get to kiss the girl.

Spock is brilliantly portrayed by Zachary Quinto and more than manages to hold his own against the original Leonard Nimoy in the brief sequence they have together. (Yes, Nimoy makes a guest appearance – but Shatner does not.)

The relationship between the two is more reminiscent of the fourth Star Trek movie (The Voyage Home), with Spock, in conflict with his half-human nature, coming into direct conflict with Kirk – who doesn’t originally start the show as the captain of the Enterprise – over the latter’s unconventional approach to solving their problems.

At the end of the movie, I felt a longing to watch the next in the series (I guess it is likely to come out sooner rather than later) and that is a good sign for the future of the new crew.

There were a lot of deft touches like Zoe Saldana’s portrayal of Uhura (and her relationship with Spock – of course, I should’ve guessed it before!); Karl Urban’s funny man Bones McCoy; and Anton Yelchin’s young Russian Chekov having problems with his Ws and Vs!

Nero was the least strongly defined character, what with a bunch of snarling and nothing much else – but possibly this was the only way to allow the other characters to be defined more clearly before coming into conflict with him.

You can watch this movie even if you’re not a Trekkie. It’s far far better than any of the Star Wars prequels – think more along the lines of Batman Begins. J. J. Abrams has managed to set a good foundation for a future Dark Knight-like movie.

RANT: Why do movie halls in Bangalore, at least for the night show, cut the closing credits. It’s terrible to hear Leonard Nimoy say in the closing, “To boldly go where…” and nothing more.

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Joint Statement on the Barbaric Assault in Mangalore (please add your names) « Ultra Violet

January 30th, 2009


Joint Statement on the Barbaric Assault in Mangalore (please add your names) « Ultra Violet

Categories: india, life, personal, sexual harassment | 1 Comment

Most Husbands nowadays, have stopped beating their wives…

January 28th, 2009

O! Really? My goodness – times have changed haven’t they?

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‘Tis Hard to Pee Straight

January 7th, 2009


‘Tis Hard to Pee Straight

  – it is! Really!

Digg This

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