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November 26, 2006

My trip to Lake Placid

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 11:43 PM

As some of you might know I took a four day trip with friends to Lake Placid, NY and I just got back. This was one fo the most fun trips I have taken in a while. Lake Placid is an awesome location with great Ski trails (They held the winter there in 1932 and 1980). I have been there earlier and loved it so we decided to take another trip there.

There were 10 of us on this trip: Me, Vinit, Surabhi, Pranav, Aarti, Sarang, Sandeep, Pradeep, Amit and Anu. All of us except Amit and Anu left from Newark, NJ (We had to leave the cars in the NJIT parking deck) at 4:30 am (so that we could miss all the traffic) in two cars. It was me, Sandeep, Pradeep and Sarang in one car and Surabhi, Vinit, Aarti and Pranav in the second car. The drive up there is beautiful and we were there in Lake Placid by 9:15 am. The cabin was really nice, it was located right next to the Ausable River and was really beautiful. Below is a pic of the cabin from the front.

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Front View of the cabin we stayed at

We basically lazed around during the day. The cabin had a fireplace so we relaxed in front of it; played Uno, Vollyball and Climbed trees (That was just me) and slept (Some of us hadn’t slept the entire night before).

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Enjoying the Fireplace

At night we had a bonfire and we fried Paneer (Cottage Cheese) and onions at the bonfire and had them. They tasted amazing. It was freezing outside and till we got the fire going it was literally a pain to stay outside inspite of all the jackets and gloves. But once we got the fire going the temperature became a lot more bearable. We were outside for a couple of hours atleast. The best part was that the bonfire area was near the river so if everyone stopped talking we could hear the river flowing and nothing else. There was absolute silence in the area. The night sky has never looked so awesome before.

Once the food was done we came back in and started talking about various horror movies we had seen, basically to scare Aarti, Vinit and Surabhi. We talked for a couple of hours and just as we were about to goto sleep Amit and Anu arrived and we talked for another hour before finally going to sleep.

The next day was also very relaxed and we all woke up by 9:30 am. While we were getting dressed Anu made tea for everyone (I had a soda as I don’t drink tea) and we had breakfast. After breakfast we went outside for a couple of hours of cricket.

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Having Breakfast

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Playing Cricket (The big beach ball in the pic is the wicket)

Then once everyone was tired we left for Lake Placid and on the way we stopped by the AuSable river which had frozen (Not completely but just the top inch or inch and half) to toss stones and ice across it. It was a lot of fun. The really interesting part was that when we tossed a particularly large stone or ice piece we would get a cool echo.

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Tossing Stones in the Ausable River

After playing at the river for about an hour we drove around to the Lake Placid proper, visited the Olympic stadium and had dinner at this Italian place. After dinner we went back to the cabin and watched a couple of movies. Actually I just watched half of the first one when I got bored and left to read a book. After the first movie we decided to make another bonfire and roasted/grilled corn on it along with Yams. The corn tasted awesome but the Yams were ok. I think we shouldn’t have let them catch fire. That probably ruined the flavor. ;) Aarti, Surabhi and Sandeep stayed inside while we were out by the bonfire. After eating we put out the fire and went back in and spent the next few hours just talking. We talked about everything from politics to cars to college life. We finally went to sleep at 4 am and that too because we were planning to go ice skating and had to get up for that.

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Having dinner at an Italian Restaurant

We were originally planning on going skiing but since it hadn’t snowed yet none of the beginner trails were open yet and only the intermediate trails were open. So we went ice-skating. That also was a lot of fun. The rink was only open for 2 hours but we enjoyed ourselves a lot. After skating we went for lunch at a Mexican restaurant where the food was pretty good and the service was amazing.

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Group Photo at the Skating Rink

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Having lunch at a Mexican Restaurant

After dinner we came back to the cabin as we had a few hours to kill before we went to the Stars on Ice show and just relaxed. I didn’t goto the show as my head was killing me but everyone else except Sarang went and really enjoyed the show. I basically finished my book and then went to sleep. Got up the next day feeling a lot better and had breakfast. Then after lazing around for a few hours while everyone got dressed we reluctantly left for home.

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Group Photo taken outside the cabin

I was in Amit’s car with him and Anu and the drive back was non eventful, we did hit a lot of traffic at first but since we had a GPS and my black berry we choose an alternative route and managed to avoid most of the traffic.

Over all the trip was a lot of fun and I took a lot of photos (About 500+) so it will take me some time to sort through them and select pics to put in the photo gallery. However I have put up a zip file containing all the Lake Placid photos up on the web, you can download it from here.

Well this is all for now. Will post more later.

This is the cabin we stayed at: Our Cabin

Update (5th Dec 2006): Posted the pics from the trip in the Photogallery

- Suramya

November 22, 2006

Just a snap of my darling sister

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 4:47 PM

Really like this photo. Took this a few months ago on my cell phone camera. Just felt like sharing it. Have a few more but need permission for those before I post them ;)

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- Suramya

Dirty Car Art

Filed under: Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 3:24 PM

All the best art is dirty: Where a normal person sees a dusty windshield, Scott Wade sees a canvas. This guy is good. Check out the paintings he makes on a dusty windshield. Below is an example of his art. This one took him about an hour to paint in three sessions.

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Dogs playing poker

Check it out: Dirty Car Art

- Suramya

November 20, 2006

Megapixels: When more isn’t necessarily better

Filed under: Interesting Sites,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 11:52 PM

A good article about how to choose a good digital camera. It talks about how people mistake higher megapixel camera’s to be better cameras.

I have actually seen this personally with photos I have taken. At Gaurang’s engagement the photos I took with my 1.3 Mega-pixel camera looked better than the ones taken with a 4 megapixel camera. The pics from the 4 megapixel camera looked blocky and the indoor photos were the worst. They pretty much looked like they were taken with a 4 year old camera. The sad part was that I used that camera more than mine as I thought that it would give me better pics.

Right now I have a Sony Cybershot and I don’t see a lot of difference between a 3 mega pixel shot and a 5 mega pixel shot. Oh, I know the 5 mega pixel has some more details and even when I crop out a particular portion of the photo I still get a good resolution on that portion.

Check it out over here: The myth of maximum megapixels

Thanks,
Suramya

November 17, 2006

Casino Royale: A must watch movie

Filed under: My Life,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 2:36 PM

Ok first a disclaimer, I am not a very big James Bond fan. I mean I liked the latest movies but I wouldn’t go back to watch the old ones over and over again. I loved the books though, Ian Fleming is one hell of a writer. This movie is based on his book by the same name which was the first James Bond book.

Me, Vinit, Surabhi, Pranav, Aarti, Tintisha and Jessica went for the first day first show today morning at 12:01 am. It was worth the time and effort. For some reason the theater for not that crowded as what I had expected (It was only half full) But I guess it could be because it was a Thursday night. We sat all the way up in the top and really enjoyed the show.

The best part about the movie was that is is completely different from the usual bond movies where Bond is this smooth character with all the cool gadgets that let him perform the most impossible mission with style. The Bond in this movie is a little rough on the edges and there are no cool gadgets involved (Q is not even shown/mentioned). He is a darker and more emotional character.

The movie started off with James Bond getting his 00 status by making his two kills, (which was a great way to start the movie) and then continued to build up on that great start. I loved the chase scene in the first 10 mins of the movie. The movie has some great action scenes and the casino scenes were really well directed. The movie kept true to the book for the most part with a few minor changes, but to tell what was changed would spoil the movie so I suggest you go watch it yourself. If you haven’t read the book and are not planning to you can get an idea of its plot over here

I didn’t like the movie theme song though, I think it was pathetic (I really liked the Golden Eye theme song).

Once the movie was over, we (Me, Vinit, Surabhi, Pranav, Aarti and Tintisha) went for a late night snack to some diner. The food there was awesome. We were there till almost 5 am. Got home at 5:30 am, went to bed at 6:00 am and woke up at 7:45 am. So a bit tired and sleepy
but it was worth it. Below is a photo that I took at the diner of all of us:

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Group Photo at the Diner

Well this is all for now. Will post more later.

- Suramya

November 16, 2006

Jangl – Call someone without without exchanging numbers

Filed under: Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 7:23 PM

Here’s an interesting concept, using jangl you can call someone using a regular phone without having their actual phone number and they can call you back without having your actual number.

The way it works is that you goto the website and sign up for a Jangl ID and you give them your phone number. Once you finish the registration you can give your ID to any one you are interested in calling.
Once they have your ID they will have to visit the site and create an account by giving their phone number. Once they do that they will get a unique 10 digit phone number that either one of us can call to get connected to the other person.

I tired it using my cell phone and black berry and it worked pretty nicely. One of the useful features is that it forces the called to identify themselves with a brief message and that message is played to the other party and they can choose to accept or reject the call.

I think it will be of good use in the bar scene or using to communicate with people when using online dating services (Match.com uses this service).

The only down side is that you have to use a website to register and get a number. They should allow users to register using SMS etc. That would make it a lot more popular/easy to use.

Check it out.

- Suramya

November 15, 2006

Open Source Freeware list

Filed under: Computer Software,Linux/Unix Related,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 2:59 PM

Good list of Open Source Freeware. Most of these software work on both Windows and Linux desktop systems.

Check it out..

Thanks to nixcraft for the link.

- Suramya

November 14, 2006

OpenStreetMap: Creating a free map of the planet

Filed under: Interesting Sites,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 12:26 PM

This is a really interesting idea. It uses the power of open source/wiki/group efforts to create a free map of the planet. Now you might ask why do we need a free map of the world? Can’t we just use Google Maps or Yahoo Maps to get a map? After all they don’t charge us for access…

Well yes and no. In the open source world there are two kinds of free: “free as in beer” and “free as in speech”. Google Maps are free as in beer, not as in speech.

Basically since Google has to pay for the mapping data it can’t make it available for free. So even though I can access it for free online and get directions I can’t export the map data and create a map to be used on a GPS from it. That would violate Google’s copyright. You can’t copy it to your local system and fix a street name that they got wrong or add new items to the map.

To fix this issue OpenStreetMap was born. It uses GPS coordinates fed to it by users to a Wiki like system and allows users to fill in information like street names etc. Which gives us surprisingly accurate and upto date data as whenever anything changes (e.g. a new street is added) anyone can edit the map and make the changes.

Check it out here: OpenStreetMap.

I think I will be using my GPS on my trips from now on and upload the tracking data collected to the site.

Thanks to TechRepublic for the link.

- Suramya

Post that made me laugh…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Suramya @ 3:23 AM

This blog post made me laugh… Its by Maritza Campos who is the creator of College Rommies from Hell. She was complaining about getting old:

Anyway, yesterday was my birthday. I’m so OLD. 30 years is so old.

Yesterday hubby told me Bah, you don’t look a day over 22.

And I told him WHAT? I used to not look a day over 12!!!

- Suramya

November 13, 2006

Getting flash working in Firefox in Linux

Filed under: Computer Software,Linux/Unix Related — Suramya @ 11:32 PM

The past few hours I have been trying to get Flash to work on my Linux system using Firefox. Specifically I wanted to be able to listen to music at Pandora.com. I tried everything I could think of including installing different versions of the Flash plugin. I even installed gnash , which is a free version of the flash player but nothing seemed to work.

The funny part was when I tried accessing the swf file directly it would open it and I would see the player initializing but since it needed info from other sections of the page it wouldn’t play anything. Finally I thought that maybe one of my extension’s was causing problems so I tried shutting off Adblock and that fixed the issue.

So now I could start the Pandora music player, but I still didn’t get any sound. The fix for that issue was thankfully simple, all I had to do was:

  • Install alsa-oss by issuing the following command as root: apt-get install alsa-oss
  • Edit /etc/firefox/firefoxrc and add the following line to it:
    FIREFOX_DSP=”aoss”
  • Restart Firefox

After I did this I can now enjoy music from Pandora without any issues. Well, almost any issues. For some reason when I play music from Pandora Firefox memory usage goes upto 70%. I am running Firefox 2.0 on a Debian Unstable system. If any of you have suggestions on how to reduce the CPU usage please let me know.

Well this is all for now. Hope this helps someone else also.

- Suramya

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