I just got back from my friend Jessica's wedding reception lunch at Sweet Tomatoes, definitely one of my most favorite places to eat. One of her younger cousins, a fifteen year old kid, sat next to me and upon realizing that I coded up Chime, started asking me about different things like video games, hacking, programming. I forgot how great it was to talk to someone genuinely interested in a subject and tell them the things you've learnt over the year. I should talk to more kids and students. Maybe someday I will give some informal lectures.
In other news, my bottom-right jaw hurts like hell; see the x-ray for the scary details. So this Thursday, July 5th, I'm going to an oral surgeon to get all four of my wisdom teeth removed and probably get a root canal on a 5th adjoining tooth. This pretty much ruins the 4th of July weekend for me.
I doubt I'll get to windsurf tomorrow as the weather's supposed to be crappy. I gotta do laundry now and later hang out with my friend Nathaniel and go to his company party. Life's ok, except for the whole pain-in-my-mouth part.
Quote for the weekend: "I think the greatest feeling in the world is putting my leg down from my desk and landing on a furry kitty's back as it purrs and then clings to my foot and starts rubbing it's head all over it." - Chirag
I have no strength left to type because I just got back from three and a half hours of Windsurfing (well, first day training). It was pretty crazy and required some serious balancing. Every part of my body is in pain right now but by the end, I did manage to sail on my own! I was too tired by the time I finally got the hang of it, to actually go out and surf more. More surfing next weekend :)
Nostalgia is overratedSat, 23rd Jun '07, 11:55 pm::
It amuses me to no end when people talk about the good ol' days as if they once bore witness to a bygone Utopian era when the neighbors were friendly, the music was heavenly, and every evening families huddled around a mulberry bush to sing hymns. These days the kids are rude, the music is filthy, the news is horrible, and of course, the world is going down the tubes. The topics of comparison are generalized and static - family, society, youth, culture, entertainment, politics, business, and so on. Since the day humans could carve stone tablets, they've written about the same exact good things and the same set of bad deeds, from love, peace, and harmony to war, hatred, and murder. It may seem that technology has made us much more efficient in the bad-deeds department but it has had a bigger impact in helping us do more good for more people.
As the world population grows, the total count of crimes and selfish acts naturally increases. But what is it that the kids do today that didn't exist 10, 100, or even 1000 years ago? The Romans and Greeks had the same problem with the youth disrespecting their elders as people complain about today. The music was just as filthy in Shakespeare's time as it is now with Hip-Hop.
Three thousand years ago, entire civilizations were slaughtered by foreign invaders. A thousand years ago, religious crusaders killed millions. A hundred years ago, entire nations were enslaved. And in the good ol' days of your grandpa, they dropped the bomb and got frisky swing dancing. You can write four-hundred page novels decrying the grind dance that kids these days are into and compare it with the clean-cut rock and roll of your days, but in reality, nothing has really changed. Instead of school shootings, there were armed robberies and pillaging of entire villages. Instead of politicians stealing public funds, there were monarchs that seized the peasants' crops. Where you have selfish, ignorant, lazy youths today, you had selfish, ignorant, lazy youths yesterday but you didn't know that because you just called them "friends." Your parents did call them selfish, ignorant, and lazy but what did they know!
I don't know what people hope to accomplish by playing the good ol' days card in the face of every bad news. The youth of today didn't invent violence, debauchery, obscenity, or corruption. They're just learning it from those that walked the same path before them - you, your friends, your parents, their parents, and so on. So lay off the incessantly vague whining and go live a little. Go sin a little.
For the last few days, I've been contemplating taking up a new hobby/sport. I love kayaking a lot and hope to continue paddling for the foreseeable future. However, I feel I've reached a plateau of my skills and excitement level. The only things I can do now to get that rush of adrenaline back is (1) paddle even longer distances or, (2) try whitewater kayaking. The problem with (1: long distance) is that, well, it takes a lot of time to get the OMG-THIS-IS-CRAZY rush. Anything under four hours has now become regular paddling so I'd have to be out in the water for 6-7-8 hours just to get the ecstasy that I once got from a two-hour paddle. And being in Florida (2: whitewater) is not possible on a regular basis as it would involve long out-of-state drives.
I have serious doubts over my physical abilities at extreme sports and am pretty sure I'll suck at whatever I decide to try. Add poor hand-eye coordination to having almost no balance, and you'll see why I'll not be training for the X-Sports anytime soon. Nevertheless, it is this realization that I am indeed at the bottom of the class in almost every sport or physical activity, that has forever pushed me to try new things. If I'm not afraid of being really, really bad, why not shamelessly give everything a try? Over the years, I've had 6-12 months of experience rowing, jetskiing, marathon running, and kayaking. I'm somewhere between the beginner and intermediate level in all of these and frankly, don't feel the necessity or the desire to become an expert. Otherwise I'd still be rowing and would have never experienced the thrill of kayaking for 7 hours.
Now I'm hoping to find something new and fun. I have an inkling of what I want to pick up but I'm still fidgeting over the specifics. I'm sure we'll find out soon enough.
I kayaked back to Caladesi Island today after months. I swam in the ocean for a good half hour and got some food on the way home. Really tired right now.
I didn't think things could get any crazier but I underestimated. A friend of Tay mentioned on our Facebook wall that Chime.TV got plugged on G4 TV's Attack of the Show. And thanks to my friend Fer, I just saw the clip. It's actually a very good intro to the site and they went over most of the salient features. I'll link to the video once I have a better quality copy. It's just weird that Tay's on-the-spur naming of our cute kitties & puppies channel to "OMG CUTE" actually derived so much attention and cooing.
The response to Chime.TV has literally been overwhelming. In the last 30 hours, over 50,000 videos have been played on Chime.TV. We had 150,000 videos in our database yesterday and now we have over 600,000. The amount of attention we're getting from outside of US is staggering. My little servers are barely surviving and a new web server is on order and probably more. If the site is a little slow or videos skip a bit, rest assured, it'll all work fine within a day or two.
Chime.TV is bornWed, 13th Jun '07, 12:15 am::
I'm very excited to finally talk about the big project that I've been working on with Tay for 6 months now! It's called Chime.TV and it has replaced the old site I used to have at www.chime.tv. Chime.TV is a website where you can watch non-stop videos for hours with almost no effort, pretty much like cable TV. We have made tons of channels and you can make the videos full-screen, adjust color/brightness, make your own channel, send videos to your friends, and search all the big video sites. It's a lot of fun so give it a whirl. Be sure to check out Tay's girlfriend Kaela's sweet Welcome-to-Chime.TV video.
We released mere days ago and the hits have started rolling in. After a spotlight on Mefi courtesy of Nathaniel, turns out TechCrunch finally picked up Tay's email and ran a little feature on us. Now I get to see if my servers hold up and how long before I have to upgrade.
You complete meThu, 7th Jun '07, 10:55 pm::
I often hear people saying "Why do you care what others think of you?" Usually, they are just trying to console someone who recently faced public embarrassment or has a moral dilemma that may not be well accepted by their family, friends, or even coworkers. However, more often than not, that question is merely a disguised insult to make the person feel self-conscious and even more vulnerable. So the next time someone asks why you care what your friends and family will think of your decision to quit your job, move out of state, change your official name, and get a sex-change operation, here's a handy reply by yours truly:
I am not perfect. My thoughts, ideas, and emotions are not permanent. My opinions and views change over time as I learn and grow. I've learnt that in general, what others think of me is directly related to how I think and thus act. Sometimes, it teaches me to stand by my words strongly for I'm certain that my ideas, though novel, are worthy. Other times it shows me that I was wrong and would benefit from taking a look at things from a different perspective.
I am not cocooned and disconnected from the rest of the world and have much to gain by caring about what others think of me and why. Reading someone's productivity tips isn't self-improvement. Self-improvement is welcoming criticism with an open-mind and a good anti-troll filter.
Things are changing, I can feel itMon, 4th Jun '07, 8:15 pm::
The first time I sat in a canoe and tried to steer it across a river, I nearly ran aground. I wanted to go straight but I kept over-correcting and so instead of slight left, I'd turn the canoe 90-degrees to the left. It was difficult for me because a kayak, while more strenuous than a canoe, is much easier to keep straight. It was only after much exasperation did I realize the simple Newtonian physics in play here - the bigger the boat, the longer it takes to turn, but once it begins to turn, it's much more difficult to change direction. If you may pardon the pun, nothing really "ground"-breaking here.
The problem is that it takes about 4-5 seconds for the canoe to change direction once you start paddling. If all you needed were two or three strokes to straighten the canoe but seeing nothing happen for 4-5 seconds, you kept paddling harder, the canoe will not only turn, it will turn much more than you intended. And now seeing it turn too much, you start paddling on the other side and keep paddling till you can see the canoe turn. Too late, now it's going to swing all the way in the opposite direction. You just can't seem to keep it going straight.
Often when I'm reading news stories, I notice how much this simple rule of momentum applies to the world in general. Most people want things to go straight and steady with only a few misguided outliers that want everything to go either far left or far right. Yet we see everywhere people trying to skew things too much to one side or the other. Why can't people realize that if they keep moving to one side, they will indeed end up at an extremity that nobody really wants? Same reason I kept running the canoe aground - I couldn't feel the slight nudges and kept thrashing till I could actually see the canoe turn. Too late.
Anytime you see something in the news about citizen's rights being abused, journalists silenced, or failed economic and academic policies being implemented and wonder why everyone can't see where this is going, it's because the system is too big to instantly react and gives no immediate visual feedback to the one's manning the rudder. By the time the system actually reacts, people are already jumping overboard. We think the world today moves at dizzying speeds and sure, in most communication-oriented aspects, it does. However, society, economy, education, politics, and all things global take years to truly show their new direction. The key is to finely hone your feelers and sense when things are brimming under the surface.
Take for instance the gradual devaluation of the dollar. Nobody I interact with on a daily basis, cares one bit about it. After all, except for gasoline, things still cost nearly the same as they did five years ago and inflation rate is within the traditional bounds. Nothing has changed. Right? In 2002, I sent about $500 to my family in India. That was nearly Indian Rs. 25,000. Recently I sent $600 and it was less than Rs. 24,500. You may say the 16% devaluation in US currency over the last five years doesn't mean much to anyone, except for a few people like me.
Brimming under the surface, is the slowly increasing US debt to the rest of the world. Nobody cares about the debt because nobody sees any direct effects. By the time you see the effects though, it would be too late. If things don't start changing soon, then within the next two decades the Euro will have replaced USD as the preferred international currency of trade, the USD will be devalued to the point where imports cost drastically more, import shortages will create underground markets for knock-offs and counterfeits, insufficient supply will cause surge in prices bringing in 1930's era scarcity in this land of plenty, lack of international faith in US stocks will "correct" the stock market resulting in massive layoffs, and economic recession will finally solve the pesky immigration problem.
This above is, of course, just far-fetched fear-mongering from yours truly and I'm hoping it never happens. However, my feelers have yet to sense the boat change course and get on the path straight ahead. Most people though, are blissfully unaware and apathetic. It's ok. They have the luxury to be apathetic. For now.
Things are gonna change, I can feel itSun, 3rd Jun '07, 9:20 pm::
After nearly six sleepless months, fourteen-hundred finger-crunching hours, and countless arguments (that always ended in mutual agreements) with Tay, earlier today I typed up the final few lines of code to bring our big awesome pet project to Version 0.99 RC (release candidate). We're hoping to launch sometime within the next few weeks, once all the little tweaks are made. The cake is baked, the icing already on, it's time for the little cherry on top.
Without disclosing the details of the project, it's hard to talk about it but I'll try. I don't think I can ever explain what today's milestone means. Everything I've thought of for months is finally done and ready for the world to see and use. I can't speak for Tay but I'm hoping for a gradual, steady adoption rate as opposed to going big in one day. I'd rather have slow, predictable growth than crash and burn within the first 6 hours of launch. Here's hoping!
I know nobody will believe me for saying this but we're not doing this for fortune and fame. We're doing this because it needs to be done and because nobody has even come close to doing it right. It won't be long before my words are proven right or wrong.
Now that my mind is clear, I finally did something today that I've been wanting to do for well, six months - clean my damn house! Took me about 3 hours but I have a pretty clean house now and am doing laundry as I write this.
I don't think people can understand HOW eager I am to stop programming every night and weekend and get back to entertaining you with my dirty laundry details, kayaking shoots, and photos of cats :)