The Tsunami Relief efforts taken up by so many agencies and volunteers are heartening.

On our part, Y! Bangalore employees have come together and organized a plan to help out… donations were collected from ourselves and I was happy to note we collected quite a good amount in such a short span – and also all Yahoos have donated a day’s salary to the fund. Lots of medicines, food, clothes, blankets and other things have been bought and they will be taken in a truck to Nagapattinam district in Tamil Nadu. Six Yahoos will also be going and they will personally distribute these to the people who need it the most directly along with the help of the Red Cross and other agencies. I hope all the yahoos will be safe and are successful in the plans.

I personally wanted to join them as well but because of my coughing and headache, I would’ve been more of a hindrance than help, so I decided not to volunteer for it. Also, I decided I won’t be celebrating the New Year tonight by going to a party.. instead, I gave the amount I would’ve spent, for the relief efforts. This is my small contribution to helping our fellow people.

Also, I came across the Wikipedia page on the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake – it has amazingly comprehensive coverage of what’s going on and what relief efforts are being taken up.

More information on how you can help is at:

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you would’ve heard about how the Mozilla community started the SpreadFirefox initiative and about the full-page advertisement in a major daily newspaper in USA as well, and that all the marketing and funds were from the community. This is what is now termed as open source marketing. Well, its not knew to people familiar with open source software, because its about the community that makes open source software successful, code is just one aspect of it.

In true open source marketing style, we have KongIsKing.net where Peter Jackson (the same person who directed the stunningly successful Lord of the Rings trilogy) posts his daily production diary and we have all the inside scoop as well as get to have a ‘feel’ about being part of the movie-making process. The production diary videos are simply great and especially the last one where they have a competition on how many camera ‘setups’ they had done during the shooting period :)

Knoppix is one of the coolest Linux distros around, especially because of its amazing hardware recognition capabilities.

To have a full operating system running just from a CD without the need for even a hard disk was simply unimaginable to me before I learnt about Knoppix. I was simply blown away when I first used it.

Some cool stuff can be done with this kind of technology as well such as the Movix project which allows you to create eMoviX CDs which boots on your computer and automagically starts playing movies! You can use K3B to create eMoviX CDs using Linux.

Also, check out how Jeremy Zawodny has set up Knoppix on the home computer so that his parents can use it with ease.

I’ve been blogging a lot more since the last couple of months and I have phased from a tech-only blog to a real ‘Life and Technology’ blog which has been my tagline ever since I started blogging.

So, the good news is that I finally figured out how to enable category-specific RSS feeds in WordPress, so if you are interested in only my technical-related posts, then you can subscribe to the tech category feed using your favorite rss aggregator.

The whole list of categories and the related feeds are listed on the right bar of this page. Enjoy!

As you might have noticed, I have changed the title of my blog to a new name ‘The Dreamer’ from ‘Dynamically Typed’. There are 2 reasons (yes, there had to be 2, after all I am The G2 for a new name:

  • I’ve been blogging on and off over a year and just got a bit bored of the name ‘Dynamically Typed’, I wanted to change the title to something more me for the coming new year.

  • There is already a blog by the same name and I wanted a unique title for my blog.

Why did I choose ‘The Dreamer’? Well, again there are two reasons:

  • Ever since I read ‘Ignited Minds’ by the inspiring Dr. Abdul Kalam Azad, President of India, I constantly have the following words in my mind:

Dream, Dream, Dream.
Dreams transform into thoughts
And thoughts result in action.

I watch the sun go down like everyone of us
I’m hoping that the dawn will bring a sign
A better place for those Who will come after us …
This time

I’m just a dreamer
I dream my life away oh yeah
I’m just a dreamer
Who dreams of better days

So, here I am – I’m the dreamer :)

I saw Joke Falls a few days ago and I was surprised to see a well made Kannada movie after sooooooooooo long (no exaggeration that).

Ironically, it is a hit movie and inspired from an old Dharmendra movie ‘Chupke Chupke’ whereas the hit movie Swades is inspired (strictly in my opinion only) from ‘Chigurida Kanasu’… welcome to Indian cinema :)

I just love the songs in Joke Falls, they are very hummable and a heck of a lot better than the vulgar songs I (fortunately or unfortunately) see in most Kannada movies these days….

Nearly 9000 people have died in India, Thailand, Indonesia, Maldives and Sri Lanka due to a massive tsunami triggered by the largest earthquake the Earth has seen in the past 40 years.

I was watching NDTV News and I was totally frightened about the extent of the tragedy and they kept stressing on the numbers to make it even worse. I switched to BBC News and was a bit comforted by their stories on how the Oxfam NGO is helping out people with food packets and plastic sheets to sleep on, and about the European Union pledging monetary help for disaster relief efforts. Indian PM Manmohan Singh has also sent 3 naval ships to help in the Maldives. Thank God people still do care about people in other countries as well.

When I got to know about all this, I immediately called up my close friend Sudheer who lives in Chennai, Tamil Nadu and was relieved to know he was safe.

Sriram, are you safe?

Saddened by all these, I was thinking why, why do these things happen? Either its people killing each other like the Iraq War and wars in other parts of the world or its natural disasters like these. Has there ever been a moment in history where man was at peace? What have we done to anger Mother Nature so much?

Update
The tsunami toll is now about 24,000 according to NDTV :(

Update: Photos are now in Flickr.

Yesterday night, me and my ol’ PESIT gang decided to go for a biking trip today to GreenValley. The decision all happened quickly and we just decided to go there, not knowing what we were actually going to see there.

Having Breakfast

Me on my bike

Coconut water stop

Green Valley is about 50 km from Hebbal flyover, Bangalore. As the name suggests, it is supposed to be a very scenic valley.

We had 3 bikes and there were 5 of us – Azmi a.k.a. The Network a.k.a. The Headmaster, Subhojit a.k.a. Sub0 (pronounced SubZero), Rashmi a.k.a. Ms Bubbly, Gaurav a.k.a. The Joker and myself – Swaroop a.ka. G2 a.ka. The Dreamer.

Azmi opening the bag of chips

Me and Sub0 next to a splendid farm

We met up at Azmi’s house in HSR Layout, had breakfast and then started for the Outer Ring Road to Hebbal flyover and started our journey towards Doddaballapur. It was bright and sunny and traffic was okay at the time. We had a cocunut water stop, train stops (no, we didn’t eat trains, we were just waiting for the train to go by so that we can cross the road), photo stops – when we came across a splendid farm, and somehow managed to cruise along. After a bit of distance from Doddaballapur, we had to take a left turn to go to Green Valley and then we suddenly stop and see a sign that says ‘Welcome to Green Valley’ and we see that its a resort and nothing more!

Me in action in tennis

Lunch

Volleyball

I was kind of disappointed, but then we decided to enjoy in the resort itself. So, we negotiated the entry price with the manager and then went in. We had a ball of a time (literally) playing tennis, volleyball, table tennis and carrom. Tennis is really tiring, I really wonder how the heck Andre Agassi and all those other players have so much stamina. In between, we had a surprisingly good lunch.

Dudes chilling out

Splashing in the pool

Racing for a length

I love the water

Then, we saw the swimming pool. It was much bigger than I would usually expect. We hadn’t got any swim gear and the resort also didn’t provide any. We still badly wanted to get into it, so we jumped in our trousers :D … it was fun. Hot sun, cool water, tired bodies, happy faces. Perfect.

After a long time, Azmi bugged us to get out of the water and we finally got out. Now, you know why I call him The Headmaster. We took a look around the resort and we found a mini deer park and nice greenery. We took a lot of snaps. Then, we set out from the resort.

Resort was fun

We had a great time

The group photo

The deers

We then inquired a passerby farmer and he told us there is a lake down the road. So there was a valley! We raced ahead and when we reached midway down, we were spellbound by the natural beauty and scenery of the place. Seriously, I was over-excited by it. A look at the photos will have you convinced. The scenery was really good – moon rising in its splendour on one side, purple haze below it, brown hills below and finally lush green farms on the ground. We did take lots of snaps but the beauty was simply being there and seeing eye-ful of the range of colors. We stopped at the lake and just gazed and had more photo sessions. A crazy thing was we saw electricity poles in the middle of the lake – how dangerous is that!

View of valley from top

Scenery

The moon in focus

Azmi and Subbu pose in front of the lush farms

Sunset

One for the road

Man, machine and nature

Me and the moon

Me and the moon in better focus

Colors of nature

More colors of nature

Time to go

Sadly, it was time to go. We had to bike back before it got too cold. We started out and we were literally racing at breakneck speed. Azmi kept racing ahead with Subbu sitting behind him and I had great fun trying to catch up with him (I didn’t want to stress out my dear 7-year old Samurai bike too much) and Gaurav and Rashmi were close behind.

The ride back was simply fabulous. We ripped like hell in those bikes. Of course, at any hint of risk, we used to slow down like anything – we never took risks, but most of the time it was safe. I simply had a blast. I love biking and this trip was mainly about that. In the end, we had great fun absolutely throughout the day. There was not a single thing that went wrong. Touch wood.

I’m happy to note that yet another of our trips have been successful.

Yesterday, I had blogged about wanting to go gadling, well, in true style I did today! :)

Btw, don’t forget to check out the snaps – there are lots of wallpaper quality photos there. The size of all the photos came to 80 MB! – so I uploaded the photos resized to a smaller size. Just tell me if you want any of the photos in full resolution and I’ll just send ’em across or put them up on my site :)

Route
By popular demand, here’s the route to Green Valley from Bangalore.
It is put very precisely by Azmi as:
bangalore > yellahanka +left_turn+25=Doddaballapur+right towards hindupur+12/15=Green Valley

Update
I took a hot water bath and slept like a log yesterday night. I had the most amazing sleep in a looooong time. Then again, my cough got worse because of yesterday but what the heck, I had a fantastic time!

One of my favorite sites that I follow these days is Gadling.com. Webster dictionary says that ‘gadling’ means ‘a roving vagabond’. Nice.

I recently came across an entry about FromParis.com which contains amazing panoramic photographs of Paris, the City of Lights. It is simply awesome. Whatever you do, don’t miss visiting this site. You can even zoom into any part of the picture to whatever depth you want!

Read more about people in Antarctica, Thai Cooking, the Valley of Death, paddling in boats, coffee at Vatican City, scuba diving with sharks, kayaking, the India fad, rock climbing in Quebec, surfing in Central America, cycling through Costa Rica, skateboarding, and lots lots more. Has all this caught your attention yet? ;) … it sure caught mine. Makes you wonder what you are doing sitting in front of a screen, doesn’t it?

Do leave a comment telling me your favorite entries on that site. That would be interesting.