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Today my blog marks five years of existence. Half a decade!. That’s so much for me, because I lose interest of things pretty soon. Blogging somehow stuck on the wall. And I’m happy about it.

I honestly can’t believe that I kept doing it all this long. Yes I know it’s not without a lot of barren times in the record but when I see it sums up to a total of 213 posts It kinda makes me happy. More than anything, I’m happy that this blog made it from nothing to something. At the beginning it was almost all worthless crap. My writings weren’t worth someone’s precious time (But, Big thanks to people who read me those days. You made me!). And today I believe I’m improved and my writings worth at least a bit more than a decade old classifieds paper.

I think I should thank @indica‘s Kottu for giving my teenage self a reason to keep doing it pretending people actually read what I wrote. Kottu not only gave the feeling of being read and most importantly provided some good stuff read and learn from (Oh the good old days!). Also my friend Geekaholic‘s (Bud) blog was a huge inspiration as I was in to Linux and stuff. I won’t go in to naming each and everyone here because a LOT of people actually did inspire me with their writing.

Back in the days, blogging felt like what twitter felt an year ago. It was awesome. I can remember writing stuff (Trust me, it’s not worth your bandwidth to go back and see) and later posting them on the blog with the limited net connectivity I had. Oh and how much I loved seeing those 3 people having read my little blog!. I don’t really think I had a huge readership. Most people came here through search engines to read those HOWTOs. But still there are things that can make my humble mind happy.

All time views to my blog sums up to a number just under a hundred thousands (That’s a VERY small number on Internet) and most importantly, 616 comments. Slash off 116 for my own blabberings and spams that made through akismet and my hawk-eye, there we got a 500 times people thought it’s worth writing something. That’s really a great honour to a tiny soul like me :). Thank you people. You made me too!

So thank you each and everyone ever visited my little place on this huge internet and cared to comment on it! I’ll keep adding stuff till I find myself not doing it. Hope you’ll be the support you’ve used to be. Thanks again!

If you read all this long, you should be someone special :D. And if you too have a blog, I’d really like to know about it because I think I should try to start on reading others a bit more seriously again!

It rekindled that habit. The habit formed in me when I still was a kid. The habit that made me understand good lessons about life without actually having to go through all those hardships. The habit that let me leave reality for a better imaginary world. Amazon Kindle did what once seemed impossible: Making me read, after the computer. And the Internet.

This is the day I got my hands on my own Kindle.


Since then, I’ve been reading. I’ve been reading on the couch, on the bed, on the bus and even on a Kottu place chair!

Yeah Kindle is like a book. Only better. Well.. minus the smell (solved already?). Minus, sometimes, the weight too. And it’s not just a single book, more like a mini library, right. OK let me organize my thoughts a bit and improve my bragging.

Don't Panic!

Something inside doesn’t want me to say this but I like kindle better than a book. Only thing I miss is the smell. (I liked the kindles smell though it faded too soon and not gonna renew with a new book.). Talking about the ‘wins’, first thing is ease of holding it. I don’t have to try and keep it open. It weighs just perfect that a book rarely will weigh less than that.

Surprisingly, it’s dimensions don’t ruin the thing at all. I said surprising because the first time I had a kindle in my hands (Bud’s Kindle) I thought it (the screen to be precise) was a bit too small for a book replacement. But it really is not. One day I was reading on Kindle and it just occurred to me, “Dude.. the Kindle’s screen dimensions are just perfect”. I should be exaggerating things a little but you still get the point.

The screen quality, as they have advertised, is really close to print quality. Kindle 3’s screen beats ‘LCD for reading’ any day, hands down. The text on Kindle has sharp, well defined edges comparing to other e-ink screens I’ve seen. Sometimes the screen shows a ghost of previous screen and other blurs and stuff but Alt+g wipes it all clean. To be done with screen quality, you can read on Kindle screen almost anywhere you can read a book. This means it serves fine under bright light and won’t magically light up in the darkness.

Once I slide the power button and get the device in life, thanks to the instructions on the screen savers, it’s pretty much straight forward to navigate and start reading.

Before I see a kindle for real I thought the page flip buttons on the sides are to flip to the respective side (left button to go left/back and right button to go right/forward). Once I started using one I realized it is not and that it would almost be a usability nightmare if it was. On both the sides the bigger, lower  button is to flip forward and the smaller, upper button is to flip back. This allows the user to have the device on either hand and not worry about flipping. And we rarely flip back, so the smaller button. I find flipping pages on Kindle to be easier than it is on a real book. Oh and I can go to a specific page using the menu and move between chapters with left and right navigational buttons.

When I read a book on kindle, it presents me with some interesting information on the bottom of the screen. From right to left, number of pages, current location and the percentage I’ve currently finished. Below that information is a bar that visually represents the progress and the milestones (chapters). This seems to be very encouraging when you are  reading. Yeah the little things matter most.

Little things...

The in-page dictionary look up has been very much helpful and convenient. Up/down navigational button spawns and moves a cursor on text and kindle automatically looks up dictionary for the word next to the cursor. The result is shown on a small box on top or bottom of the screen. I’d only ask for quicker ways to navigate! (hint: touch)

Amazon promises a month long battery life for reading (with wireless off). I could never test on this because I plugged the device to the computer many times and sometimes left it plugged for so long. But I can say I used it without plugging for more than a week and didn’t see a significant drop in battery level. Probably it’s the infinity for practical usage.

Kindle comes with many extra features, advertised and not advertised. MP3 playability and the browser are among advertised extras (experimental). Both the features will come pretty handy when you need them ’nuff said. Image viewer, minesweeper, Gomoku and screen shots features are not advertised by Amazon as I know. I use the image viewer just to show off.

Kindle’s text to speech is well advertised but I never seriously used it. Of course it adds up on show-off-ability.

I honestly think that the Kindle 3 is really great for reading. As Jeff Bezos wrote on his letter to me ;) (the letter appeared on kindle when I registered it online) the Kindle disappears in my hands – getting out of my way, leaving only the author’s stories, words and ideas.

Yes I jailbroke, rooted and did whatnot with my Kindle (thanks to the awesome people who made it real) but all that was only for few days. Now that I’ve had enough bragging and showing off, it has come down to ‘something I read on’ from ‘teh ozam thing’.

I can’t really ask for more but if It could accept touch on screen to navigate, I don’t think it would ruin the whole idea of simplicity in Kindle. Most the people who got this in hand tried touching the screen first. That probably is a result of the ongoing touch-hype but there have been times I’ve felt that I could use some touches for good.

OK time to read some awesome books on ‘the thing I read on’.

I love my Kindle.

PS: … and I love my friends who actually made me own one. Thanks @aerobender , @geekaholic :)

It was just after the time cellular phone began to leak in to the middle class Sri Lanka. My father became a victim of a contract too, sharing the destiny of many others in his social circle. I was amazed by it’s powers but not as much as the other non tech savvy people were. I had a friend who shared my thinking and even influenced me more in tech. And I had a brother who always honored his rascal brothers geekdom, and he was there with me, happily, for any seemingly dangerous assignment.

woz-phreaking

Steve Wozniac, The Woz Phreaking (credit: myoldmac.net)

And the other day my brother came with a trick. A trick he found somewhere and we had to get our hands on dads phone for this. And this was the time me and my friend were reading some old bunch of magazines, to be specific, called 2600. We were fascinated by the stuff we read. But most of them seemed technically outdated despite the excitement. And we were eagerly trying nasty stuff on whatever we got our hands on. And my brother promised that the trick works.

The phone charges were so high. And dad never wanted us doing something nasty. Pretending just moving through the menus just for the fun of it was the key to get the phone. And we tried the trick. We just dialed a sequence of numbers pressed this and that and we had access to something looked like a voice mail box system, just like that. There were voice menus to present the basics. After a bit of fiddling we knew how to make something seemed to be new accounts. The accounts had a four digit number. We could send voice messages to another number. And receive messages on the ones we create. I can’t remember whether we have a time limit per message. Anyway the good news was “It’s free!”.

With this we had virtually quenched the thirst of phreaking [1], the cool thing we read on 2600 [2]. Me my friend and my brother were exploring the new world we found. Each and everyday we were trying out new things, Going through new voice box numbers and see what they have in them. We didn’t find much of interesting things. The boxes were spread all over a 4 digit number space and we tried some random combinations. I the mean time we used this as a way of communication. Apart from being free, it was so fun be on it. We introduced it to another less techy friend so we had more people to communicate with.

One thing that made the experience so fun was that the guy who apparently leaked to my brother was pretty much a dumb ass. Being what he was, he was also so determined keep things under cover. We found the voice box of that guy with funny messages recorded in it. It was fun to listen to them. We didn’t forget to scare the crap out him by vocally posing as the administrators of the network. As I can remember, the message we sent him saying that we have tracked him down, stating his address precisely, silenced his dumb roars forever. Not only that, he was also useful in some of our experiments.

I was checking one of our boxes, which had an obsolete number, and probably have used for sending nasty messages to other seemingly active numbers. There was this message threatening to stop fucking with the system. But we never knew whether he is a real deal. But later we found some of the numbers being reset. With time the cellular network had a major infrastructure overhaul and the system was not available there after. But by this time we had had the portion of fun it had for us.

After this I never got to hear of the existence of such a voice mail system. Maybe some other curious kids have had found this system and hopefully one of them find this blog. Or even the real administrators of the system :D.

I got my hands on the book “The best of 2600, A hacker odyssey” thanks to @gihangamos. Going through the first few pages gave me these memories back and thought I should put those together on a blog post. The people who read my blog / knows about me will instantly translate “My friend” in to a name. Hope you are reading this buddy :).

[1] – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phreaking

[2] – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2600%3A_The_Hacker_Quarterly

I always hate my school. No I don’t completely hate. But I hate a lot. School gave me a lot. But whatever it gave me came in change of things unique about me.

Today I was going through SICP book and came across the algorithm that finds the square root of a number. It specified Newtons method and I felt like looking for the way one can manually find square root value. The method my father taught when I was in grade 6 or 7 (It was the last thing math my father taught me). And I think I found it.

Sri Lankan School kids / cc txd

Sri Lankan school kids / cc txd

Well that method was annoying me at that time (even now I’m too lazy to go with that). So I came up with an easier method. Alone. And that method is very similar to the one suggested in the  first comment on previous post I linked. I had a little diary which I wrote all those fascinating stuff I come up with. I can remember, there I documented all the pitfalls of the method too. In side notes, there was a plan for a solar oven, among other crazy stuff :D.

I think that diary was more of an engineers note book (a term I heard in Personal Software Process course I’m currently following) for me. And I was still so young. Going even more back in time line, I can remember I came up with a dirty trick to memorize process the multiplication table in mind just in time :D (I suck in memorizing).

I’ve read most of my dads book shelf including books about psychology which I shouldn’t have read at the time. My reading speed was great and today I’m just a loser in reading at my younger self.

But all that spirit was taken away by the rat race that was introduced by school. School only killed the thinking part of me and expected me to memorize more, which I didn’t do well anyway. That little notebook went away from me so quickly. Next came the hatred of books for some reason. I wanted to love Electronics and  Astrology but I didn’t receive enough encouragement.

Then I found this shiny new concept called computing and strongly fell in love with it. School was so stone age and never kept up with me in computing stuff either. And only option I had is hating school. I didn’t want to leave my new love for anything. I spent the last days of my school as more of a rebel. And that was pretty much how I ended up with school.

And thank god that school shit has gone forever. Not that I don’t reminisce and love the beautiful moments of school days as any other sane kid would do. But there are more reasons to hate.

I think I’m again thinking free. A bunch of text files had replaced that little diary. And I read a lot, online (I know I should read more physical books. And especially read more literature.). It was really hard to get back in the track, but the natural urge coming from inside of me and being with right people has actually given breath of life to my childhood goodness.

To finish up, some anti-school stuff I can find in my Twitter feed :D

“You don’t learn anything in school. It’s just a waste of time.” ~ Bobby Fischer

I’m not gonna change the world. I completed school. ~ My self

About School grades. Good read. http://www.marco.org/55382197

Self educated people who’ve made a difference.

Maybe this is the first time I seriously thought of a new year resolution (My memory is against me anyway). This morning I watched this program called Sandakada pahana on sirasa TV (ok, TV can be useful at times). There was a Buddhist monk and a guy called Ajith Jayawardena. Their talk actually made me want to think a bit more of this special day. And that’s why I’m writing this.

So.. when thinking of a new year resolution, what I have to think about? let me jot down.

What were my ultimate life goals? (And also what ARE.)
What were my plans for the year behind me and how much I accomplished?
What did I actually do?
What did I actually gain?
What changes I managed to make on my life? (positive or negative)
Where did I do well and where did I screw up?
Where do I stand on the way to my life goals?

Answers to these questions will help me come up with better and solid new year resolution. Before I work on the answers I have to save some other random ideas about my new year resolution.

I already know what would be the highest priority for next year (studies… again :D). So I should do my best to achieve in that aspect.

I want to learn (actually work with) few more programming languages. (And get away from students syndrome as much as I can.)

Contribute to plexydesk.
Socioplexy, a framework for plexydesk was my academic project in second semester. Can’t ever forget the great help received from Siraj in the project. So I want to help the Plexydesk the best I can.

Contribute some more to FOSS in Sri Lanka.
I feel like I did a lot less for FOSS comparing to year 2008. But it’s hard to find memories to confirm this to myself. Anyway the biggest thing I remember I did FOSS-wise is organizing the FOSS stall for SLIIT 10 year celebration event.

Continue SinhalenFOSS, the podcast I did with my friends.
2009 was a bad year for SinhalenFOSS in my opinion. All three of us Geekaholic, Seejay and myself were busy with crazy stuff and didn’t really put much in to the podcast. I was not busy all the time but some times I badly needed my free time for myself. It was a tiresome year overall.

Be job ready by the end of 2010.
Enough being a hole in mom and dads pockets.

Other than that I would like to make my self a bit more socialized (tech events are not socializing for me), read at least one book till the end :-S and start something cool (a tech project).

So that’s all running in my mind when I think of a new year resolution. Hope I’d be able to make myself an awesome 2010.

Wish you a successful new year ahead :), because everything good comes with success.

PS:

New Year’s Day now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. ~Mark Twain

May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions! ~ Joey Adams

Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account. ~ Oscar Wilde

A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one Year and out the other ~ Anonymous