Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

May 27, 2010

Kashmir, India and my thoughts on them

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 11:18 PM

As some of you know my Mom is a member of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and yesterday (rather today morning) she came back home after a week long trip to Kashmir via several different cities/states.

This trip was made specifically with the aim of flying the Indian national flag at Lal Chowk and the yatra was named ‘Sadbhavana Yatra’ which roughly translates to Peace trip. The trip was envisioned because on 26th Jan 2010 there was no unfurling of the Indian flag at Lal Chowk in Kashmir. Which is sad and embarrassing. To make things even better at no point in time before this trip has the Indian flag flown alone in Kashmir. It is always accompanied by the Kashmir flag at the same height which as you might know is unconstitutional. So this was the first time that the Indian Flag was flown alone in Kashmir.

According to mom, as soon as they entered Kashmir their convoy was harassed in increasingly belligerent tones to take the flag down (All their cars were flying the Indian flag) and it got to the point that they were worried about attacks to their caravan and even a mid-night police raid to arrest them at their hotel. The initial plan was for them to fly the flag at Lal Chowk at 10am but when they saw the amount of anti-nationalism and the threat of attack they unfurled the flag at 5am instead and then left soon thereafter. Even then a lot of the people who saw the unfurling opposed it with one person who tried snatching the flag to prevent it from being unfurled.

Now you might be wondering why this is a case, how can a state act against the country and not fear retaliation by the rest of the country. I am wondering the same thing. How can our Prime Minister, President and the MP’s allow this state to so consistently insult India?

A lot of it is because Kashmir only joined India when it was invaded by Pakistan and the only way it could secure aid from India was to agree to become part of India. But that was 60 years ago, their king made the decision and now they have to live with it. Pakistan poking their noses into it every few years haven’t helped either… along with all the other aid that is being provided to the militant factor in Kashmir to prevent the ‘repression’ of the Muslims in the area by the Hindu’s.

I think its past time that the Indian government grew a backbone and sorted out this problem once and for all.. The loss of life and property in Kashmir is appalling and the situation won’t change unless those in power take a decision and then back it up by force if required.

– Suramya

May 26, 2010

Microsoft’s E&D Chief confirms that the Courier Tablet ‘wasn’t a device’

Filed under: Computer Hardware,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 8:20 PM

The courier tablet caused a big splash when a video from Microsoft that showcased the functionality of the Tablet was released and a lot of people were eagerly waiting for its launch. However when its launch was canceled last month a lot of skeptics wondered if there was ever an actual device or was it all a ‘concept’.

Now thanks to Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Chief Robbie Bach we know for sure. He confirmed in his exit interview that the Courier Tablet ‘wasn’t a device’. In his own words:

Well, Courier — Courier, first of all, wasn’t a device. The project and the incubation and the exploration we did on Courier I view as super important. The “device” people saw in the video isn’t going to ship, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t learn a bunch and innovate a bunch in the process.

So basically it was all a big PR stunt. I not saying that companies should stop publicizing their feature lists or that the company should include every feature in their feature list into the final product. I know that its not always possible to include every feature that you envision into the final product. But still… If MS had a device in production that did a major portion of the features that were touted in the video or even a minor portion of them it would still make sense. But creating a PR hype on a product that they have no intention of releasing and then giving it a launch date is cheating and just wrong. I believe that such devices are rightly called vaporware.

It looks to me like all they were doing was trying to steal some of the hype from the product launches of other companies.

– Suramya

Source: Robbie Bach Q&A Part 3
Thanks to: The Raw Feed for the initial heads up

Early to Death, Early to Rise (Madison Avery series Book 02) by Kim Harrison

Filed under: Reviews-Young Adult Fantasy — Suramya @ 7:43 PM


Early to Death, Early to Rise (Madison Avery series Book 02)
by Kim Harrison

Description:

Seventeen, dead, and in charge of heaven’s dark angels – all itching to kill someone.

Madison Avery’s dreams of ever fitting in at her new school died when she did. Especially since she was able to maintain the illusion of a body, deal with a pesky guardian angel, and oh yeah, bring the reaper who killed her to his untimely end. Not exactly in-crowd material. It’s amazing that her crush, Josh, doesn’t think she’s totally nuts.

Now Madison has learned that she’s the dark timekeeper, in charge of angels who follow the murky guidelines of fate. Never one to abide by the rules, she decides it’s time for a major change to the system. With the help of some unlikely allies, Madison forms a rogue group of reapers who definitely don’t adhere to the rules of the heavens.

But as she grapples with the terrifying new skills that come with being a timekeeper, Madison realizes she may not be prepared for what lies ahead – unless she gets some seriously divine intervention.

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Rating:

Review:This is the second book in the new YA series by Kim Harrison and is quite a fun read. The characters are well developed and even though the plot is quite simple and not very elaborate it is a good read.

I guess one of the reasons that the book doesn’t have a very heavy plot is that its written for young adults and if a book had too many twists and turns then it would loose its target audience.

Another point in the books favor was that you didn’t have to have read the previous book in the series to enjoy this one. Not saying that the book is a complete stand-alone and that it doesn’t enhance a reader’s enjoyment in the story if they know the backstory but still even if you haven’t read the first book you will still enjoy this one also.

Final recommendation: A good read.

May 25, 2010

SpellCrash (WebMage series Book 05) by Kelly McCullough

Filed under: Reviews-Urban Fantasy — Suramya @ 7:35 PM


SpellCrash (WebMage series Book 05)
by Kelly McCullough

Description:

The WebMage books are a fantasy-cyberpunk hybrid set in a universe where an ever-increasing number of life threads has forced the Greek Fates to a upgrade the great loom of Fate into a computerized system that blends magic with programming. Of course, where there are computers there are also hackers. Enter Ravirn, a hacker/sorcerer, and his laptop familiar, Melchior. Ravirn is the grandson of both the Greek Fate Lachesis and Thalia the muse of comedy and comedic poetry, making him the end product of Fate and Slapstick. Together with Melchior he takes on Fate, Hades, Nemesis, and all other comers. The results range from disastrous to catastrophic with many side trips into the sublimely silly.

Ravirn is the best hacker around. But when the system controlling the multiverse needs a massive reboot, Ravirn must utilize all of his skills as a mage and prevent complete chaos-even if it costs him his life.

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Rating:

Review:SpellCrash is the latest book in the WebMage series and is a book that I have been eagerly waiting for the last few months. The book was great and it brings everything that the past 4 books in the series built to head and to a resolution.

I always love books that are based on computers and when you have a book that combines computers with magic you have a win-win situation. Especially when the main character in the book is a hacker who uses both computers and spells to hack into the fabric of life itself.

The book does a great job of re-iterating all the major plot points from the previous books so I didn’t have to go back and re-read the previous books to understand this one, which is something I don’t like doing as I rather read a new book than re-read old books before I can start on the new one.

The characters at this point have been quite well developed and the plot was interesting. The book ended in a way that if the author decides not to write any more books in the series then the readers have a proper ending for the story but if he decides to write another story in that universe then there is enough of an opening left for that also. (BTW, if you haven’t figured out by now… I am rooting for the second option)

Final Recommendation: A great read

May 24, 2010

Amazon Queen (Amazon series Book 02) by Lori Devoti

Filed under: Reviews-Urban Fantasy — Suramya @ 7:33 PM


Amazon Queen (Amazon series Book 02)
by Lori Devoti

Description:

Being an Amazon ruler just became a royal pain.Amazon queen Zery Kostovska has never questioned tribe traditions. After all, these rules have kept the tribe strong for millennia and enabled them to live undetected, even in modern-day America. Zery is tough, fair, commanding – the perfect Amazon leader.At least, she was. A new high priestess with a penchant for secrecy and technology is threatening Zery’s rule. Plus, with the discovery of the Amazon sons, males with the same skills as their female counterparts, even Zery can’t deny that the tribe must change. But how? Some want to cooperate with the sons. Others believe brutal new leadership is needed – and are willing to kill to make it happen.Once, Zery’s word was law. Now, she has no idea who to trust, especially with one powerful Amazon son making her question all her instincts. For Zery, tribe comes first, but the battle drawing near is unlike any she’s faced before … and losing might cost her both the tribe and her life.

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Rating:

Review:Amazon Queen is the second book in the Amazon series and I really liked the book. Its written from the perspective of the Amazon Queen Zery who is more rules bound than her friend Mel who was the focus of the first book. However this adventure forces her to re-examine her outlook and make several decisions that her earlier self would not have condoned.

The plot was nice and complex and even though it took a lot of twists and turns it didn’t quite go to the realm of annoying. The characters were all quite well written including the secondary characters also.

It did get a bit confusing in the middle for me with all the characters but that could have been because I was pretty tired at that point and wanted to finish the book before going to bed.

Another pleasant surprise was that the author didn’t pad the story with loads of sex. If you have read some of her other books you know what I am talking about, if not then I suggest you try reading her Hellhounds series.

Final Recommendation: A good read. Waiting for the next book in the series.

May 23, 2010

The Demon in Me (Living in Eden Book 01) by Michelle Rowen

Filed under: Reviews-Paranormal,Reviews-Romance — Suramya @ 7:18 PM


The Demon in Me (Living in Eden Book 01)
by Michelle Rowen

Description:

Hell hath no fury like a woman possessed…

After her hunky police detective partner guns down a serial killer in front of her, “psychic consultant” Eden Riley realizes that she’s no longer alone. A voice in her head introduces himself as Darrak. He’s a demon. But not in a bad way. He was cursed 300 years ago and he wants to find a way to break free. Eden’s psychic energy helps him take form during daylight, and she’s going to have to learn to live with this sexy demon…like it or not.

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Rating:

Review:I really liked this book which is the first book in a new series. Even the series name is a tongue in cheek reference to the fact that the demon is literally living inside Eden (the main character of the book)

The initial two chapters or so were a bit hurried and not a lot of details were provided initially when Eden faces off the serial killer but that was quite all right because all that did was set the stage for the remaining part of the book which is her dealing with a demon taking residence inside her body till death do them part…

Since it was the first book a lot of it is basically setting the stage for the sequels but at no point did it get to the point that I wanted to leave the book and wait for the sequel where the actual story would be progressed.

The characters were quite well written and even the secondary characters were defined enough that you got a feel of their personalities but not so much that you get bored.

Final Recommendation: A good read

May 22, 2010

Bound By Darkness (Soul Gatherer Book 02) by Annette McCleave

Filed under: Reviews-Paranormal,Reviews-Romance — Suramya @ 7:29 PM


Bound By Darkness (Soul Gatherer Book 02)
by Annette McCleave

Description:

Death’s warriors guard against demon soul thieves for one chance at redemption…Desire be damned.

Bound together by burning desire and a similar darkness in their hearts, Soul Gatherers Brian Webster and Lena Sharpe race against time to take back from a demon ancient coins that could destroy civilization. But as the truth behind a deadly bargain Lena made surfaces, Brian is faced with a desperate choice-save the one, or save the many.

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Rating:

Review:Bound By Darkness is the second book in the Soul Gatherer series and I have to say, I have some mixed feelings about the book. The first 3-4 chapters were quite confusing and if this was the first book by the author or of the series that I was reading I would have stopped reading then and there. However once I got past the quite rocky start the story started to make sense and I got into the flow of the book.

I think the problem was that the author expected you to remember the story from the first book completely which I didn’t and thus I missed the undertones of the book that would have been visible to me if I had. But once I got into the plot it was quite interesting and the book turned into a decent read.

The book is not one for anyone who is a prude as there are some quite steamy scenes in the book. So if you are one of those then I suggest that you skip the book. They are not as explicit as some of the other books I have read (like the last few books in the Anita Blake series) but are enough to merit a warning.

Final recommendation: A decent read, but make sure you read the 1st book before you read this one.

May 19, 2010

Outsourcing unit to be set up in Indian jail

Filed under: My Thoughts,News/Articles — Suramya @ 11:01 PM

If this hadn’t been on BBC then I would have dismissed this as a joke and a bad one at that. But apparently it is true. There are idiots who think that outsourcing backend processes of Banks to convicted criminals is a good idea. I mean come on… Are you even thinking? If they were doing this with phone bills or utilities bills it would have made sense. But banks… Seriously?

The unit will employ 200 educated convicts who will handle back office operations like data entry, and process and transmit information.

The project will begin at Charlapally Central Jail, near the state capital Hyderabad, in the next four months.


The unit, which is expected to undertake back-office work for banks, will work round the clock with three shifts of 70 staff each.

I want to know what banks will be part of this program so that I can move my money to another bank if required.

– Suramya

Source: BBC News – Outsourcing unit to be set up in Indian jail
Thanks to Schneier on Security for the story.

Dead in the Family (Southern Vampire Book 10) by Charlaine Harris

Filed under: Reviews-Urban Fantasy — Suramya @ 7:16 PM


Dead in the Family (Southern Vampire Book 10)
by Charlaine Harris

Description:

If you think your family relationships are complicated, think again: you haven’t seen anything like the ones in Bon Temps, Louisiana. Sookie Stackhouse is dealing with a whole host of family problems, ranging from her own kin (a non-human fairy and a telepathic second cousin) demanding a place in her life, to her lover Eric’s vampire sire, an ancient being who arrives with Eric’s ‘brother’ in tow at a most inopportune moment. And Sookie’s tracking down a distant relation of her ailing neighbour (and ex), Vampire Bill Compton. In addition to the multitude of family issues complicating her life, the werewolf pack of Shreveport has asked Sookie for a special favour,and since Sookie is an obliging young woman, she agrees. But this favour for the wolves has dire results for Sookie, who is still recovering from the trauma of her abduction during the Fairy War.

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Rating:

Review:The newest installment in the Southern Vampire series picks up from where the previous book ended. The Faery War has ended but everyone is still recovering from it.

I really didn’t remember a lot from the previous books and so for the first few chapters was a bit lost. Plus the books are completely different than the TV series so that was another thing that confused things for me. It would have really helped if the author had written a short summary of the events till date before starting the new story. Unfortunately very few authors do that.

Thankfully a few chapters into the book enough was explained and I remembered enough from the previous books that I was able to enjoy the rest of the book without wondering what was going on.

Final Recommendation: A good read but it could have started off better.

May 18, 2010

Boot From a USB Drive even when your BIOS Won’t Let You

Filed under: Computer Software,Computer Tips — Suramya @ 11:37 PM

If you are like me then you have gotten into the habit of carrying a Live Linux CD with you at times, I keep mine in my Laptop bag so its there when I need it. However CD’s have a lot of inherent problems like, an inability to update the version without burning a new disk and a susceptibility to scratches.

Having a Bootable USB drive with the latest version of Linux solves all these problems. USB drives are quite cheap now and it makes sense to have one available loaded with the latest diagnostic tools. But till date I didn’t carry a bootable USB drive with me because a lot of the systems I encountered didn’t allow me to boot from USB which made the bootable drive pretty much useless. Now, there is a way to fix the problem. What you need is a Blank CD and the latest version of PLoP.

PLoP is a Bootmanager that allows you to create a boot CD that will enable the system to boot from a USB drive even when that option is not supported by the BIOS. You can download PLoP from here. Installing it is quite easy. You just need to extract the .ZIP file that you downloaded and burn the .iso image to a CD. There are two ISO images on the CD and you can use either one of them, however according to the readme file plpbtnoemul.iso should work “everywhere” so if you have some doubt use that image.

Once you burn the image to the CD, reboot the system and configure it to boot off the CD. When the system boots up you will get a boot menu that will allow you to choose USB as the device to boot from. Once you do that the system will boot off the USB drive as normal and you can proceed from there.

Hope you find this as helpful as I am going to.

– Suramya

Source: Boot From a USB Drive Even if your BIOS Won’t Let You – How-To Geek.

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