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January 29, 2012

My Trip to Gujarat

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 11:59 PM

As I mentioned in some of my earlier posts, I just got back from a 9 day trip to Gujarat (plus a day in Bombay) and it was a great experience, we drove about 1500 kilometers, visited 11 temples, saw 2 lions, 4 bluebulls, 5 monkeys and a few dozen deer. As promised this post will document the trip with pics so this will be a long post. For those reading this on Facebook, the pics don’t show for some reason on the wall so you need to click on the title and read it on the blog directly.

The trip started with me flying to Rajkot, Gujarat on the 18th from Bangalore via Bombay (I still think Mumbai sounds silly). Had a few hours halt in Bombay so I spent it at domestic Airport and wasn’t too impressed with the airport, I think the ones at Delhi & Bangalore are a lot better with nicer amenities. Met up with Ronak, Jeelna, their cousin and uncle at the airport and flew to Rajkot. Since we got there at about 9 pm we just checked in at Hotel Rajdoot .

Let me divert a bit from the topic here to really recommend Rajdoot to anyone who is traveling to Rajkot. Its not a 5 star place but their level of service and friendliness of the staff more than makes up for it. I mean what other place will send one of their staff to search for a saree shop twice when a guest calls them up inquiring if they have the number of that shop? The staff went out of their way to make sure we had everything we needed.

We spent most of the 19th morning shopping. Actually Jeelna was shopping, the rest of us were tagging along for the ride. The process was over a lot sooner than I expected but I think I might have hastened it by falling asleep in one of the shops :) In the afternoon we behaved like typical tourists and roamed around taking a lot of photos and saw the first temple of the trip:


Us acting like tourists at Swaminarayan temple


Me in front of Swaminarayan temple, Rajkot

We got to travel 5 in an Auto which is not the record for me but it was a first for the others and so a lot of fun.


6 people (including the driver) traveling in an Auto is fun

The next day (20th) we started early and left for Dwarka. We made a few stops on the way to see temples, visit relatives and eat good food (although I guess if you were on a diet it wasn’t that great). Got to Dwarka late in the evening and went for the evening aarti. Unfortunately camera’s are not allowed inside the temple so we were only able to take external shots. It was a hard to take evening shots without a tripod but we managed :) still I think the pics taken during the day were a lot nicer. Actually, they better be nicer as we got up at an insanely early hour for this and were nearly frozen while walking around taking the pics.


Dwarkadhish temple at night


Dwarkadhish temple really early in the morning


Side view of the Dwarkadhish temple.

Everyone other than me lit diya’s and floated them down the Gomati river (Relax, the diya’s were made out of leaves so were bio degradable)


Ronak and Jeelna lighting diya’s at Gomati river

All took time and everyone started getting hungry so we decided to feed ourselves with whatever was handy.


A hungry person will eat anything


including the sun

From Dwarka we went to the Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple and from there to Bet Dwarka which is on an Island and can only be reached by boat.


The Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple


Me and Ronak on the boat with bet Dwarka in the background

Once done there we drove on to Porbander which is the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi. We did stop at a few other temples on the way but their names are all sort of blurred now. so…


Carvings on one of the temples we visited

In Porbander, we took it easy for most of the day with just a visit to Gandhi’s house and yet another temple. Gandhi’s house was built in the 1800′s and had 22 rooms but it felt like it was built by dwarfs for dwarfs. Take a look at the pic below, that is how high the doors were. I had to be careful while inside not to bump my head.


Me at the entrance to Gandhi’s house and no I am not standing on an elevated platform


I am kneeling on the floor in this pic.

The staircases were even more insane, they were so steep that a rope had to be set up to aid people climbing up. I wonder how old people made it up there in one piece… Maybe the older you got the lower Floor you got to stay on.


Ronak discovers the insane staircases you had to climb to get between floors.


The rooms had built in exercise equipment

The hotel we stayed at was nice, Ronak especially liked the awesome view from their room.


The awesome view from our room in Porbander

From Porbander we drove to Somnath which has a very interesting history. Somnath is known as the Shrine Eternal as it has withstood the shocks of time and the attacks of the destroyers. It has risen from its ashes like a phoenix each time it was destroyed or desecrated. The present temple is the seventh temple built on the original site.

When we got to Somnath late at night we found that none of the hotels had any rooms available as the chief minister was in town and his entourage had booked all the rooms. Thankfully we got lucky in the 2nd hotel we tried as they had a cancellation literally 2 mins before we walked in, otherwise we would have spent the night in the conference room of the hotel which had been converted to a common style dorm. Went for darshan the next day and then drove to Gir.


Ronak and Jeelna braving the sun in front of Somnath temple

We got to Gir in time to take the safari but I was seriously disappointed. I had visited Gir in 2002 with family and had such an awesome experience that I was eagerly waiting for it. That time we took a jeep into the Interpretation zone which is a fenced area of 412 hectares and spent a few hours there just observing the wildlife with a great guide. Now unfortunately the place has been commercialized and instead of jeep safaris you now take a 30 min bus ride to see the lions. It felt like we were visiting a zoo on a very large scale.

On the bright side we did see a lion and lioness during the brief tour. Though they were just lying there for the most part, but the lion did get up once and showed us its ass before lying back down. When I complained to my dad about this his response was “why? were you expecting them to get up and dance for you?”


The original plan was to take a safari to the sanctuary in the evening and then spend the night in Gir before driving to Rajkot, but after the 30 min ‘safari’ we decided to drive on to Junagadh where we spent the night before driving back to Rajkot the next day.

We spent another day at Rajkot at Hotel Rajdoot and then drove to Vadodara the next day. Once there we rested for a couple of hours before attending Ronak’s cousin’s Mehendi/Sangeet. After the function was done we stayed up talking till almost 2:30 am and then I got up at 4:30am for my return flight to Bangalore via Bombay.

I spent a day in Bombay. Had lunch with Ruth and Rebecca, walked past the Gateway to India and spent the evening with my cousin Rishabh at his college. Had a lot of fun.

Got back to Bangalore at 5am and promptly crashed, spent most of the weekend recovering from the trip and lack of sleep.

There you go, a summary of the trip with some photos. Will post more in an album when I get some time (and get the pics for the last 2 days from Ronak).

This is all for now will post more later. I should go crash now as I have an early morning at work tomorrow .

- Suramya

January 28, 2012

Proof that you can find anything on the net if you look long enough

Filed under: Books Related,My Life — Suramya @ 8:57 PM

After looking for this book since 1994 which was when I first read it I finally managed to get my hands on ‘Earth Invaded’ by Nathan Elliott in the Amazon used book section. The book was in pretty good condition and got here quite fast considering it was shipped from the UK using normal post (I as eager to read the book but not eager enough to pay for express international shipping)

Took me about 45 mins to read the first book (its a trilogy and is only 160 pages) but it sure brought back a lot of memories.  The book is the story of how a group of soldiers fight against alien invaders when none of their energy weapons work against them. The plot was simple, and the story straight forward. I guess that the book was written for a much younger audience but was still a good read even at my age.

I have the third book in the series but am still waiting for the second book to be delivered (Got that one from another used store on Amazon) so can’t read the next one till that arrives. :(

Currently waiting for my system to finish deleting files fromm the Trash folder so am typing this on the tablet using the new keyboard. :) For some reason when I recovered data from one of my crashed disks and copied it to the new one it got into some sort of loop where the same directories were replicated under a folder over and over again i.e. I have a folder called .wine/dosdevices/z:/dev/fd/3 under which is another wine folder with the same layout and so on… So a 120GB folder was copied over as over 400GB and its taking forever to delete the files. Actually correction, I was able to delete them from the system but emptying the trash is taking time.

Well this is all for now. Will write more later once my system is back up (Booted into single user more to speed things up).

- Suramya

Rooting the Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Filed under: Knowledgebase,Linux/Unix Related,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 1:45 AM

A rooted android device gives you a lot of flexibility so one of the first things I did after I got back home was to root it using the following instructions (modified from Android Forums: [HOW TO] Root the GSM/HSPA+ Samsung Galaxy Nexus):

Note: I am assuming you are using Linux in the instructions below. If not then visit the link above for steps in Windows.

  • Download the Android SDK from here to a folder on your PC.
  • Power down your device
  • Connect the USB cable between the phone and your PC
  • Open a shell session
  • Switch to the directory where you downloaded the SDK (In my case it was Media/Downloads)
  • cd Media/Downloads
  • Extract the SDK Zip and switch to the new directory
  • unzip sdk-tools.zip
    cd sdk-tools
  • Make the applications executable
  • chmod a+x fastboot-linux adb-linux
  • Now, Boot your phone into fastboot mode by pressing and holding the volume-up AND volume-down AND the power buttons UNTIL you see the little green Android laying on his back with door on his chest open
  • Verify that fastboot can “see” your device
  • ./fastboot-linux devices

    You should see something similar to this:

    0146B5030B02100E        fastboot

    If you don’t see anything, try running the command as root.

  • Next we start the unlock process for the bootloader by issuing the following command. Keep in mind that this will completely wipe out all data from the phone so make sure you backup before running the command.
  • ./fastboot-linux oem unlock

    Confirm that you want the bootloader to be unlocked by acknowledging the warning message on the phone. (Please note that this will void your warranty). Use your volume rocker/keys to select the confirmation and press the power button to actually confirm.

At this point you have an unlocked bootloader and now we will start the rooting process.

  • Download the su.zip flashable root package
  • I had to manually copy the su.zip to the Phone because for some reason I kept getting an ‘error: insufficient permissions for device’ when I tried copying the file using adb. I used FTP (as I have SwiFTP on the phone, but you can use any method that you are comfortable with)

  • Download the Clockwork Recovery for Galaxy Nexus (GSM) to the same folder as fastboot and adb
  • Soft boot the ClockworkMod custom recovery by issuing the following command. This method will not replace the currently installed recovery partition on your phone, so you can still receive updates from Google.
  • ./fastboot-linux boot recovery-clockwork-5.5.0.2-maguro.img

    Your phone should now boot into ClockworkMod custom recovery. The next few steps are done on the phone. You shold use the volume key / rocker to navigate and the power button to select an entry.

  • From the main ClockworkMod Recovery screen / menu, select ‘install zip from sdcard
  • Select ‘choose zip from sdcard
  • Select ‘su.zip’
  • Confirm that you want do this.
  • Select ‘*****Go Back*****
  • Select the ‘reboot system now

That’s it. :) Once your phone finishes rebooting, you should now have root. If you hit issues, try reaching out to the folks in the Android Forums for help.

Hope this helps.

Update (14th Feb 2012): As you all know links/stuff tends to disappear over time on the internet so I have updated the post with links to my mirror of the software required to root the Nexus. Original links are still listed below.

Original Download links:

- Suramya

January 27, 2012

My new Phone: Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 11:42 PM

After drooling about it for almost 3 months I finally have my new phone: Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Special thanks to Ronak and Jheelna for getting it to me from the US. :) I got the phone on the 18th and have used it for about 10 days without any net connectivity for the most part and I can honestly say that I really like it so far.

First impressions/experiences so far:

  • The settings page is a bit sparse and seems to be a bit dumbed down. I see a lot more options on my Galaxy Tablet that is running Android 2.3
  • The default set of applications that come with the phone should be expanded, I really missed having a memo pad app
  • My screen now has a small scratch on it because I dumped my hotel key in the same pocket as the phone. Although to be fair, the key was pretty big and heavy.
  • The system is very fast and responsive. A genuine pleasure to use
  • Some of the settings/options should give you feedback when used, e.g. when asked to check for system updates, some sort of indication would be good. Right now I don’t know if it is stuck or just waiting for a reply from the server.
  • USB Host access is not supported, so I can’t mount the phone as a USB drive on my computer. :( This really sucks but as a workaround I have installed SwiFTP on the phone which is a FTP server.

Will document more of my findings as I use the phone more and more. But as a starter, now that I am back home with a good internet connection I rooted the phone to give me more options and will be installing a whole lot of apps and experimenting.

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

- Suramya

January 26, 2012

Vacation… Where am I on the graph?

Filed under: Humor,My Life — Suramya @ 9:44 PM

The following graph is quite true when you think about vacations. I have been out of office for a bit more than a week now and I am just at the end of my trip (typing this at the Bombay airport) so starting monday I will have to deal with all the emails that have accumlated the past week.. Unfortunately most of them won’t be spam, and this is just after I managed to clean up my inbox before I left. :(

image

The trip was a lot of fun, will describe it in a separate post as I want to include some of the photos as well in the post.

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

- Suramya

January 18, 2012

‘Vimana’ a good SciFi read

Filed under: Books Related — Suramya @ 3:46 PM

Its been a while since I last reviewed a book, guess I have just been busy. However I just finished reading Vimana by Mainak Dhar and really liked it. As some of you know, I don’t usually like reading books by most of the famous indian Authors. Before you get upset, its not because I think that Indian authors are bad, just that the topics most of them write about are of absolutely no interest to me. There are some notable exceptions to this like Ashok Banker (author of the Ramayan series), Amish Tripathi (wrote the Shiva trilogy). Now I have another author to add to the list of authors I like: Mainak Dhar.

The premise behind the book is quite simple, the myths we have about Gods fighting in their flying Vimans are true and based on aliens with advanced technology fighting on earth and one boy gets dragged into the fight because he literally stumbled into it.

The story is quite fast paced and is very light reading, there are not too many plot themes to keep track of, but that just makes the book fun to read. Since there are not too many plotlines at times the story gets a bit predictible but the fast pace keeps it from getting boring.

The love interest of the main character could have been left out but it didn’t get too bad.

In all I would recommend the book to others, Actually this would also be a good book for kids as well. Though for that I am basing the criteria on my reading habits which was considered quite advanced and not normal :) (I was reading Michael Crichton, L Ron Hubbard etc in 7th & 8th class. )

As an side note, This entry was typed in flight on the way to Mumbai using my new keyboard for the Galaxy Tablet. Now that I have this keyboard, I really don’t need a laptop as I can do everything on the tablet. Except maybe code but that isn’t that big an issue as so far I haven’t needed to code on a flight. Plus its a lot more compact than a laptop. :)

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

- Suramya

January 13, 2012

Official style guide for Android developers launched

Filed under: Computer Software,Interesting Sites — Suramya @ 3:01 PM

Google has just launched Android Design, a website created to help aid developers in the creation of applications for ICS. This makes it easier for developers to code visually consistent applications, so if you are interested in Android development check it out. I took a look and it has some good tips/suggestions on design etc.

Duarte wants to remedy this. On Thursday, Google launched Android Design, a web site created specifically to help aid developers in the creation of applications for ICS. The site offers a comprehensive visual to third-party application developers, giving suggestions on everything from how to implement different visual elements to overall back-end patterns for the OS itself.

In theory, it will help developers better understand just how the Android team thinks about layout and implementation, while simultaneously giving suggestions to interaction designers on how to maintain visual integrity. Basically, it will help both first-time developers and Android veterans make apps look less crappy.

Since have been thinking of diving back into mobile development for the past few days, this site will be very useful and has been launched at just the right time. Considering the previous experience I have with mobile development was on Symbian using Python, I can use all the design help I can get.

- Suramya

January 12, 2012

Still waiting to use this in real life.

Filed under: Humor,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 11:26 PM

Actually now that I think of it, I haven’t used any of the stuff from Physics, Chemistry or Bio that we learned at school in real life either. Gah, the no of hours of my life that have been wasted…

- Suramya

January 11, 2012

Enter a 1 TB Pen Drive

Filed under: Computer Hardware — Suramya @ 1:43 PM

Have you ever despaired of not having enough storage space when on the move? Are the 16GB pen drive no longer enough for you? In that case this announcement from ‘Victorinox’ is just for you: their new SSD Flash drive will be available in capacities up to 1 TB (1024 GB) while still retaining the same size format as the regular pen drives.

Designed for the person who’s never deleted a single file and maxes out their monthly bandwidth limits on torrents, Victorinox dropped a bomb on CES with their new SSD flash drive which will actually be available in capacities up to one terabyte. That’s a thousand gigabytes people

It’s actually the largest flash drive Victorinox has created in terms of its physical size too, but it’s still very easy to slip in a pocket or tether to a keychain. It’s not like they just slapped their shield logo on an external hard drive and attached a pop-out blade. Read and write speeds are promised at 220MB/s and 150MB/s respectively, and from my personal experience Victorinox’s drives have been some of the fastest I’ve ever used.

I have a 8GB pen drive which is currently missing in action. But unfortunately this device is not available yet for retail and there is no information of the pricing yet, however I am sure it will have a hefty price. Still: me want!

Thanks to Gizmodo for the story.

- Suramya

January 9, 2012

Finally watched the new Sherlock movie

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 11:59 PM

Finally watched the new Sherlock movie today. One word review: bleah… Didn’t like the movie at all. They made it into an action movie but bare minimum of Sherlock touches so that they could claim that it was based on the books. Frankly, if you like the books then you should watch the BBC series ‘Sherlock‘ instead. They have done a way better job of portraying Sherlock than the movie even thought the series in based in 21st century London.

Considering a lot of people who were raving about this movie are the same ones who are raving about Mission Impossible 4, I am wondering if I should make the effort to go watch MI4.

I am going to go watch the latest episode of the second season of Sherlock Holmes now to purge my brain of this horrible movie.

- Suramya

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