Thu, 26th Jul '07, 7:30 pm::

I wonder at which age I'll stop calling myself a boy and accept that I'm a man or just a guy. I feel like a kid because no matter what grown-up stuff I do, I still do all these childish antics, especially when nobody's looking. On our flight to California, Tay was listening to radio and I kept changing the volume when he wasn't looking. It's not even a clever or that funny of a prank. But to me at that time, it was simply hilarious!

I used to think that maybe getting married or having kids would transmogrify me into a man but I highly doubt it'll be that easy. I can get serious whenever I have to be but it's just so much fun to be a crazy kid otherwise. And so I hope to be.

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Buy less stuffWed, 25th Jul '07, 12:15 am::

I'm not a big fan of productivity advice and lifestyle tips so when I casually glanced at the headline "The seven habits of highly subversive people" on reddit, I expected nothing more than a rehash of every other "Work Smart" Top 10 list. I imagine it was my disdain for this genre of articles that caused me to misread "subversive" as "productive." Now that I read the article without any preconceived notions, I can't help but pontificate about my own personal and lifestyle habits.

I'm not certain how this change came about in my personality but over the last couple of years, I have stopped buying things unless I absolutely need them. I don't go "shopping" anymore and don't order t-shirts, gifts, or cool gadgets online. I have no new collectible items to adorn my showcase and the only products I buy regularly are food and household items. I haven't even bought new clothes in years (sadly, it's starting to show.)

However, I realize now that contrary to my claim just half a year ago, I am not a bad consumer; I just spend my money differently. I've minimized buying things and maximized buying experiences. Instead of $250 to get a better cellphone, I got $150 wind-surfing lessons. Rather than spend $600 on a bigger TV, I'm spending $50/month so I can chat with my family in India every day on my drive to work for 25 minutes. The only major purchase I've made this year is a $2500 server/workstation to code Chime.TV on but that's strictly a development decision and given the expected four-year life of the PC, quite economical in the long run.

I remember asking my dad to take me to Fancy Market in Kolkata, India so he could buy cool wristwatches for me. It was a lot of fun to find a unique designs before others discovered them. Since then, a significant change in my thought process has occurred. You know how you love that one shirt or that book or that wristwatch or your lovely car? I don't. I barely care about objects anymore. My car is a mechanical device with a simple purpose to transport me around and requires regular maintenance. My computer is replaceable as long as the backups are current and my wristwatch costs $9. Stuff is merely stuff. And I refuse to allow my purchases to represent my inner-self.

I know this sounds pretty Fight-Club-esque and maybe I am going through the same disconnect with reality, after already having procured every minor item I thought would make me happier and not finding the satisfaction. It might also be that I have realized I don't have what it takes to afford a $12m house with heated pools and tennis courts and hence have opted to get out of the rat race altogether. Or my minimalism somehow makes me feel superior to the mass consumers out there and is just an elitist act to maintain my smugness. Or maybe I've woken up one morning to a fire in my apartment and realized that in times of life and death, the stuff you so gleefully bought is what gets in your way as you try to save your loved ones.

I often get caught up in long debates with my environmentally-conscious friends who think that I am single-handedly killing the planet because I am vehemently against most methods of recycling, use paper plates instead of washing dishes, and think purchasing carbon offsets is completely idiotic. While I can defend my position at length on all those issues, I would much rather explain that the best way to be green, save the planet, and be environmentally conscious, is to BUY LESS STUFF. Live in a smaller house with a bigger yard. Drive the smallest car you can manage with. Don't throw away things unless they break - upgrading for the sake of upgrading is sickeningly wasteful.

Learn to manage with less. Instead of a $600 GPS, buy a $15 Atlas. I did, and discovered that Okefenokee was only four hours away. You don't need a 650 DVD movie collection. You don't need a 32-piece set of steak knives. And despite your intellectual ambitions, you don't need a 3,200 book library. Manage with less, manage with alternatives, and manage with compromises. And with the money you saved by not buying the entire audio CD collection of Songs from the 80's, take Salsa & Merengue lessons.

I'm not the first person to say all of this either. Eradicating materialism has been the tenet of many a religion like Buddhism and Jainism. However, it's pretty difficult to give up all the things you're used to and care about. I can't give up computers and I rather fancy my kayak. Loving your pair of black shoes isn't going to destroy Earth so keep on dancing. All I'm saying is don't get in the cycle of desiring more objects, getting a more strenuous job to afford those objects, and then realizing you need more objects because your new peers have them, and working 70 hour weeks to afford these objects that you didn't even know you needed, only to find out that while you're working and buying and working and spending, you imprisoned yourself in a cage of debt, stress, and complete lack of direction.

So I say be less productive, less materialistic, and less successful and be more adventurous, more leisurely, and more content.

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Sun, 22nd Jul '07, 11:25 am::

Earlier this week Tay and I went to Silicon Valley, California to participate in Mashup Camp 4 (pics here). A mashup is a website or application that combines content from more than one source into an integrated experience.

We showed off Chime.TV (as a video mashup that combines top 10 video websites) and people loved it so much, we were voted the Best Mashup and won 1st prize (wearing my reddit t-shirt)! Here's ZDNet interviewing Taylor to show off our mashup entry (video here). Our kickass webhost for Chime.TV, SingleHop also interviewed us earlier this week. Highly recommend them for the great 24/7 dedicated support and an awesome performance/price ratio.

It was a great experience to visit Silicon Valley for my first time ever and meet so many brilliant people. I met some pretty smart folks from the development teams of AOL, Google, HP, Microsoft, Yahoo, YouTube, and more. My super-crazy-smart college buddy Tim dropped by too. I had a lot of fun hanging out with Tay's friends at eventful - Chris & Nate and also John & Liz.

I haven't been online much after we got back. Yesterday I went to Busch Gardens with my friend Heather and her roomie Bonnie. We saw a lot of cool birds and animals but it rained soooo hard that all rides were canceled. We ended up returning home early and just watched a couple of movies instead. Good thing about Busch Gardens is that Florida residents can come in multiple times for free once they buy an annual pass for just $5 more that of course I did.

It's my lazy Sunday afternoon now and I'm just relaxing and unwinding after a pretty exciting week. Time to sit back and just enjoy Chime.TV now.

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Tue, 10th Jul '07, 12:00 pm::

Happy 50th B'day Daddy!!! I wish I could be with you right now. Enjoy your vacatio in Kerala :)

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Sun, 8th Jul '07, 3:50 pm::

Smiling hurts a lot. So I'm going to try to be serious now.

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Sun, 8th Jul '07, 3:10 pm::

I'm on some pain meds and recovering well. I haven't eaten much solid food but hopefully will soon. Today's afternoon entertainment consists of tons of videos by The Beatles on Chime.TV. And just so you know, Hydrocodone and Yellow Submarine make for a very trippy recovery.

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Fri, 6th Jul '07, 2:05 pm::

It's raining like cats 'n dogs in Kolkata, India and so my sister queued up tons of monsoon songs for our Indian viewers in Chime.TV Music: Hindi channel.

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Fri, 6th Jul '07, 10:20 am::

I had five of my teeth removed yesterday, four wisdom and one adjacent to the lower-right wisdom tooth. If you still have your wisdom teeth, get them removed before they kill the teeth next to them. I left work around 1pm yesterday, got home, took some Advil, and waited for my friend Sandra to show up. She drove me to the oral surgeon's office and waited in the reception area during the entire two hours of the surgery. The surgery was completely painless and once the sedatives wore off, I was able to walk around myself without any problem. After the surgery, Sandra helped pick up my medication, bought me a milk-shake, dropped me home, helped me change my dressing (sooo sorry for spitting on your face!), and even put on a movie for me to watch. I wish she hadn't moved two hours away to Orlando. She's a true friend.

Now that the local anesthesia has worn off, the pain in my jaw has started to intensify. The pain is not unbearable and there's no swelling either. Looking at me, you won't even realize I had surgery yesterday. I've taken some painkillers and it's making my head spin like crazy. I'm going to rest now.

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Tue, 3rd Jul '07, 11:30 pm::

On the way home from work today, I stopped by Michaels (arts & crafts store) and bought about $55 worth of small wooden boxes, black and white pebbles, wood finish spray paint, sandpaper, and some black and white markers. Took me a while to find it all but I think I'm now ready to build my own set of Go board game. Originally I had planned to create the set from scratch but I found just the right-sized wooden box for me to turn into the Go board with minimal effort.

While watching Falling Down starring Michael Douglas, I sanded down the rough edges of all the wooden boxes and have it primed for spray painting tomorrow. I highly recommend the movie and sanding things down before you apply varnish. A Go set similar to what I'm making costs over $200. With just a few lazy hours of work, I can soon start learning this ancient Asian game.

As faster computers repeatedly beat humans at Chess, two games where even novice level humans still win over the fastest computers are Bridge (card game) and Go (board game). The game play of Go is very deep and the number of possible moves far exceeds those of chess, Scrabble, and Othello. The same brute-force and systematic methods that work for computer chess, disastrously fail at Go. Go requires the player to look at patterns and understand what they mean and how they can relate to each other, as opposed to simply running through 4 billion possible moves within seconds. In Go, there are trillions of quadrillions of possible moves and we won't be getting computers that fast any time soon.

The study of Pattern recognition is of particular interest to me because I think that's pretty much what human intelligence is - the ability to recognize a pattern and make judgments based on them. The day computers can learn to recognize patterns on their own without being fed everything directly, is the day we'll have truly intelligent computers. If you're interested in what the game is about, you can learn it here just like me.

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Sun, 1st Jul '07, 6:15 pm::

I just got back from over three hours of windsurfing or just sailing as everyone calls it. It is definitely one of the most exciting things I've ever done. I was already going faster than 10mph today and the wind hadn't even picked up. Here's a good picture of what windsurfing is in case you don't recall. I can't believe how quickly I picked it up and how comfortable I already feel. Thanks to John & Britt at North Beach Windsurfing, I went from the beginner board and 4 (meter-square) sail to intermediate board and 5.5 sail. I'll probably rent out a few more times and then save some money so I can buy my own gear. I hope to get up to 6.5 sail. The larger the sail, the faster you can go on it, but it also gets difficult to handle.

I still have to learn how to get in the harness and to tack (complete rotation) in high winds. I don't think I can go next weekend because of my oral-surgery (wisdom teeth removal) but I'm hoping to go soon after. I'm so excited about sailing!

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