Saturday, March 21, 2015

Boyhood

The emotion I felt most after seeing Boyhood was heartache for Texas. I missed it terribly. The film showed Texas is all the ways I remember it. The country roads cut through thinly wooded forests. The middle of Houston. The small lakes and ponds that dot Texas away from the Panhandle.
When describing the movie to friends, the thing I kept repeating was that it showed Texas the way it really is, the way it isn't protrayed in travel shows or Walker Texas Ranger.

I was never much of a fan of Texas while growing up there. I found it all a bit ordinary, much of small town Texas still stuck in the pre civil rights movement America. Everything about the countryside was colored by that view, and its stain kinda papered over whatever beauty was present.
Now when I go back, I am struck by the beauty of Texas more and more. I've driven Highway 7 between College Station and Houston hundreds of times but its not till I moved away and returned that I am really blown away by the scenery that I pass on that drive: the cattle ranches, the one room clapboard bbq joints, the sky that streches forever.

As a film, Boyhood is amazing. The storytelling, the story, the acting, the portrayal of growing up in America. It felt real to me. More so because it took place in Texas.

I've just started watching "Fresh off the boat". A cross between Boyhood and that show would be a god approximation of being an Asian immigrant in Texas.

Solar eclipse transfixes Deutschland

The eclipse yesterday was big deal around these parts. Being a software company full of nerds, of course we took a break from work to go check it out.


Kind of embarrassing that for a company full of nerds, we only could scrounge up one pair of eclipse glasses.

My first eclipse and it was an amazing thing to see. I've seen pictures but in no way captures the real thing. The only thing I can compare it to is seeing the Taj Mahal. Everyone has seen pictures but in real life....WOW! Eclipse, same thing.

The schools used the opportunity to teach a bit of science. My son, who is in first grade, was able to explain to me why an eclipse, Finsterniss in German (a word I picked up only because of this event), occurs. All the school kids also made glasses to watch the eclipse.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

pvremove/pcreate fails with "Can't open exclusively - not removing. Mounted filesystem?"

 I had this problem:
root@erd:~# pvremove -ff /dev/sdb1
Really WIPE LABELS from physical volume "/dev/sdb1" of volume group "wsp" [y/n]? y
  WARNING: Wiping physical volume label from /dev/sdb1 of volume group "wsp"
  Can't open /dev/sdb1 exclusively - not removing. Mounted filesystem?

Try this:
root@my_machine:~# pvscan
  PV /dev/sdb1   VG my_volume   lvm2 [362.55 GiB / 148.36 GiB free]
  Total: 1 [362.55 GiB] / in use: 1 [362.55 GiB] / in no VG: 0 [0   ]

root@my_machine:~# lvremove my_volume

Now pvremove should work

Monday, January 19, 2015

Installing jpcap on Ubuntu 12.04

Download the package from https://sites.google.com/site/sipinspectorsite/download/jpcap
Install openjdk-6-jdk
Then
> dpkg -i --ignore-depends=sun-java6-jdk jpcap-0.7.deb

Monday, May 05, 2014

Reading Hanif Kureishi's "Reading my Father"

In the early 90s, I moved from NYC to small town Texas to attend college. It was culture shock that I was unprepared for. It was not simply the change of location but also that I was at a school (Texas A&M) renowned for its conservatism. It plunged me into an identity crisis, one that had already been there prior to the move but now, in a place where I really didn't belong, around people that I had a hard time relating to, it overtook my life. Books had always been my refuge, but nothing in the American canon that I'd read came anywhere close to my experience in America, either in NYC or in Texas. The Indian-American experience seemed barren to American culture.
During a summer of wandering around India, I came across The Rainbow Sign, Hanif Kureishi's essay about growing up in Britain. It was as transformative as reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X. I had come back to India with the idea that India was where I belonged (even though I'd grown up abroad) and being back in the place of my birth would clear all the confusion from my life. It is this convoluted idea that is at the heart of The Rainbow Sign and .

After The Rainbow Sign, I read/saw most of Kureishi's work. Some of it blew me away. 'My Son the Fanatic' seemed to be an exploration of the roots of 9/11 well before 9/11. 'The Buddha of Suburbia' could've been the story of my discovery of NYC. As I got older and my identity crisis receded, reading and Kureishi occupied less space in my life. Recently, I came across Kureishi's memoir about his father and bought it on impulse.

Well, maybe not fully on impulse as I'd been thinking about my father quite a lot lately, as I too am a father and am realizing all the things he has been through and done for me growing up. So Kureishi reflecting on his father was perhaps something that I could no resist.

'Reading my Father' is a mixed bag. There are long bits of reviewing the work of his father, which I found thoroughly uninteresting. However, when he talks about his life, growing up, becoming a father himself, discovering the community that would become the basis of 'My Son the Fanatic', his troubles with writing, drugs, drink, women, I found all of that wildly interesting. It really gave me a sense of where his writing was coming from, of the internal demons he's had to deal with. I also really dug the stories of his father and his brothers, how their relationships played out when he was growing up as it reminded me a lot of my mother's brothers and idolizing them growing up.

In the end, I'm not sure how to recommend this book other than to say that if you're a fan of Kureishi, its well worth your while but if you're not and have not seen 'My beautiful Landrette', rent that first ,  and read 'The Rainbow sign' before considering if you'd like to check this book out.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas in Antalya with Tchibo Resien

We booked a trip to Antalya during the Christmas week in 2013 with Tchibo Reisen. The prices were decent (€1800 for 7 days/nights for 2 adults and 2 kids with airfare from Stuttgart, airport transfers in Turkey and hotel room with meals and drinks included) and my wife wanted to get away for at least one week during the German Christmas break.

We booked really early (in September) and though we had confirmation that the trip was booked, the only other info we had received until a week before the trip was that the hotel was under renovation. Not exactly welcome news but there was nothing we could do about it as the email containing the info made clear that cancelling was not an option. A week before the trip airline tickets and all vouchers arrived in the mail.

The vouchers had a couple of unwelcome surprises. One of the selling points of the trip was that train tickets to the Stuttgart airport were included as part of the trip. Technically this was true. However, the flight to Antalya was so early in the morning that it was not possible to get to the airport with the train. It was not an option to take the train the day before either as the train voucher was only good for the day of the flight. Another surprise was that the flight back was at 6 in the morning. Meaning we ended up having to wake up at 2:30 to catch the transfer to the airport. That being said, the flights on Freebird Airlines were well organised, and everything about the flights was hassle free.

The Antalya airport was also a good experience, considering I was expecting an Indian airport type experience. Its a relatively compact airport and there are no long treks. We disembarked, got our luggage, headed outside to the kiosk for H&H touristik (which was organising the transfer) which was directly outside. Our names were on a sheet with the bus number that would take us to our hotel. We jumped on the bus, waited for everyone to arrive and about 45 minutes after we got off the plane were at the hotel. It was all super easy.

We had chosen to stay at Hotel Titanic. We got to the hotel, checked in took about 10 minutes with minimal waiting. I had read reviews about Hotel Titanic on Trip Advisor and though most of the reviews were great, there were people who hated the place (I am a pessimist more than an optimist and so was not entirely sure what to expect) The hotel was great. It was very clean overall, our rooms were in great shape, the bathrooms were super, though our room was a bit on the small side for 2 adults and 2 kids (but that came down to what we were willing to pay) We also had a pretty large balcony that faced the sea side of the hotel which we unfortunately did not use too much since it was the end of December.

The food at the hotel was also really good. There was a really good salad bar to choose from for every meal, and even though I abhor salads in general, I willingly ate salads for several meals. The real plus was that there was no fighting with the kids as the what they wanted to eat. There was always something that fit their fancy. The only downside to the food situation is that it is buffet style and I had a really tough time holding back from over eating. I gained at least 2 kilos during the week we spent there. I also had not expected that alcohol would be included but we never had to pay for anything. Beer and wine was offered with dinner and the bars on the ground floor looked like they had most of the popular hard drinks (again at no extra cost) There was also a cafe on the ground floor that had sandwiches and desserts in case you were hungry outside of regular meal times.

The hotel had a good indoor pool, a few different saunas, and a turkish bath, all free for use. Since we were here during low season, none of the facilities were ever full. We felt like we always had a run of the place. There was a great fitness room with free weights and machines which I used every day. There was also an olympic style outdoor pool with lanes that looked like it would be great for doing laps. If I had known how to swim, I definitely would've given it a shot but I never saw anyone in there.



A part of the package was a free tour into Antalya, which included the requisite stops at a jewelry place as well as a leather store where there was hardly any pressure to buy anything. Those were a bit annoying but it also included a free trip into the city, a boat ride around the harbor and a tour guide who was friendly and really interesting to listen to. For subsequent trips into Antalya, it turned out that a bus (LC 07) went right past the hotel and it hit all the tourist sights: Downtown Antalya, the archeology museum (I am not into archeology by any means but this museum was downright fascinating)


TerraCity Mall, the weekly Saturday market in Lara......etc etc. Be warned though that the bus is pretty much packed during normal hours. Expect to stand in a bus packed to the brim.


We also organised a trip to Aspendos via the taxi stand that is directly in front of the hotel. We paid €70 for the 45 minute ride there and back as well as for the driver to wait there for about 2 hours. I really enjoyed wandering around Aspendos (which is far more than just the amphitheater) and the drive there and back gave me more of a sense of what Turkey is like outside of the big city.

The weather was pretty good during the week we were there. It was generally sunny and warm in the afternoons, except for one afternoon mid week where it was overcast (which made it a bit chilly) and on the last evening, there was a pretty extreme thunderstorm that started in the late evening and was still going on when we flew out on Sunday morning. Also on the last evening, there was an earthquake of magnitude 5.8. I was in the pool with the kids and did not notice a thing. My wife came by and said there was a lot of shaking in the rooms but nothing more. Everyone was a bit frazzled but nothing more happened.

I really enjoyed the trip but I am not sure I would do the trip again as an all inclusive package. This has nothing to do with any problem we faced. It seemed like 75% of everyone at the hotel was over 60 and/or was just there for the food/drink/shopping. It was a very inactive bunch of people, who also seemed like they had little interest in experiencing any of the culture that was on offer. I had conversations with a few of the guests and most were about where we were from, rather than where we were at. No one seemed interested in talking about Turkey, at least apart from the shopping on offer. That annoyed me more than anything else. And a lot. In the end though, this trip was perfect for us at the time we took it.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Linux: Installing from local deb files

In the event that you need to use aptitude to install from local deb files, try the following:
> cd
> apt-ftparchive --md5 packages ./ | gzip > ./Packages.gz
> echo "deb file:/ /" >> /etc/apt/sources.list
> aptitude update
Now you can do aptitude upgrade, aptitude install etc

Monday, December 16, 2013

rrdtool create using python in Ubuntu 10.04 raises "TypeError: argument 3 must be string"

I was trying example 2 from this page: http://oss.oetiker.ch/rrdtool/prog/rrdpython.en.html#___top

It was working perfectly for me in Ubuntu12.04 but when I tried to port my code to Ubuntu 10.04, I got the following error:
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "test.py.orig", line 14, in
    'RRA:AVERAGE:0.5:6:10' )
TypeError: argument 5 must be string


Wasted a lot of time trying to solve it before this finally worked:
rrdtool.create( 'speed.rrd',
              '--start', '920804400',
      '-s', '60',
              'DS:speed1:COUNTER:600:U:U',
              'DS:speed2:COUNTER:600:U:U',
              'DS:speed3:COUNTER:600:U:U',
              'RRA:AVERAGE:0.5:1:24',
              'RRA:AVERAGE:0.5:6:10' )

Hopefully, it saves someone a bit of time
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