Nadodiyin Pulambal

A Wanderer Gripes


Posted by kovaiputhalvan on August 15, 2011

Quick note to self – the following are what I find most useful in Vim, not counting such basic things as modal editing: (Todo: provide links wherever appropriate).

Buffers to organize your work; when I knew less, I used tabs for the same purpose and got into holes that I couldn’t dig myself out of. Buffers are far more powerful and flexible. I’m not too charmed by the host of Buffer Explorer plugins, though. LustyExplorer’s buffer grep looks like a nice feature – but vimgrep seems to be enough for my needs. Currently, anyway. The Quickfix and Location List buffers deserve special mention – I can’t dream of cscoping in Vim without them. Actually… I use GNU Global (and exctags) instead of cscope when I can – but that’s a different story altogether.

Sessions and viminfo make life a lot easier when looking at multiple codebases (projects, if you will. Yes, my current job has influenced my vocabulary).

Listchars and highlight to ferret out tab-space interchanges and otherwise hard-to-find coding style violations. Make no mistake, coding style is good for you, especially if you’re a code coolie. Read Mark C. Chu-Carroll on the topic, if you haven’t already.

The CSApprox plugin that lets me use colour schemes on plain vim in a terminal. Schemes like peaksea are light on the eye, and are way better than plain black and white (matter of opinion, of course), or crippled colour schemes that look plain crappy. Also the Color Sampler Pack.

The Tagbar and gtags[-cscope] plugins. Gtags lets me use GNU Global from within vim, and gtags-cscope provides cscope-like key bindings for GNU Global. Tagbar is nice when looking at OO code – Python, for instance. I shudder to think of C++, but I’ve heard on good authority that Tagbar’s been a minor lifesaver when dealing with said abomination as well.

Matchit for the occasional funny match. IIRC, it’s responsible for Vim’s automatically matching #ifdefs with #elses and #endifs. Even if not, that does serve as a rather trivial example of what matchit can do. It should’ve been named matchmaker. (And could hence have served as an obvious lead in for multiple jokes based on that song from Fiddler on the Roof.)

There are probably more things in Vim that I find essential, but these are the ones on top of my mind right now. I’ve probably taken some for granted (like modal editing), and have forgotten others. More on those another time.

Posted in Vim | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »


Posted by kovaiputhalvan on May 7, 2011

Har. With the advent of FaceBook, few people seem to be reading blogs, and fewer still writing them. Will I be stubborn and continue to write? I would hope so.

Now doesn’t seem to be the time, however.

I’m going on hiatus for a month. The funny bit is, I haven’t written for a period much longer than that :).

Back soon.

Posted in Not Worth Reading | 2 Comments »


Posted by kovaiputhalvan on March 13, 2011

This was what met my eye as I raised my coffee cup today morning.


On Saturday, while most residents of Yokohama were still unsure if it was wise to head back home from the evacuation shelters, a group of Indians was striding purposefully to a stadium in the heart of Japan’s second largest city. Perfect strangers till then, Friday’s devastating earthquake, and the tsunami it triggered, had brought these 12 Indian men and women together. They decided to play a game of cricket as thanksgiving for having survived an ordeal they will never forget.

what finally mattered is that most Indians in Japan are quite safe. “I want to send a message back home that all Indians in Yokohama are safe and there is no need to worry. We are strong and we will recover.”.

Wait, what? A natural disaster of epic proportions strikes the country where you live and work as an expat; and what’s the first thing you do once the all-clear has been sounded? Try help your neighbours find their near and dear? Go help the cookhouse in the shelter? Figure out how to get some money to the rescue and relief efforts? No. You play krikkit. And rejoice that your countrywomen (and men, of course) – are safe. And a Bangalore broadsheet thinks this is news, worthy of the front page, no less.

I’m convinced that this is testimony to something; I’m not sure what it testifies to, though. The high levels of preparedness and competence of the local authorities in dealing with natural disasters? Maybe. Callousness? Selfishness? Sheer insensitivity?

Imagine that Bangalore was hit by a natural calamity of similar proportions, and someone comes out with the exact same lines quoted above, replacing Indians with some non-Indian denomination; also imagine that they were playing their favourite game at the Kanteerava. Now imagine what would happen next.

It’s a credit to the Japanese that none of that (whatever it would’ve been) didn’t happen to the Thankful Cricketers in Yokohama.

P.S If you can’t help ‘em directly – try donating money to the Red Cross (for example), if you can afford it.

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It pays to do your Homework

Posted by kovaiputhalvan on February 27, 2011

Excerpt from an advertisement for “Luxury” flats: five places you could dine at with Beethoven. The Signature Collection is an exquisite bouquet of 5 of the most premium {insert brand name here} properties. Reserved for the discerningly opulent, these residences are as much a reflection of a lifestyle abounding in ultra-modern luxury as they are of fine taste and refinement.

Excerpt from Professor Robert Greenberg’s series of lectures on Beethoven, quoting a visitor to the Composer’s apartment: Picture to yourself, the darkest most disorderly place imaginable; blotches of moisture covering the ceiling. An oldish grand piano on which the dust disputed the place with various pieces of engraved manuscript music. Under the piano – I do not exaggerate – an unemptied chamber pot. Beside it, a small walnut table accustomed to the frequent overturning of the secretary placed on it; a quantity of pens encrusted with ink; then more music. The chairs, mostly cane seated, were covered with plates bearing the remnants of last night’s supper, and with wearing apparel, and so forth.

Ha bloody ha.

Posted in Gripe, History, Humour, Music | Leave a Comment »

It’s raining, godsdamnit (small ones at that)

Posted by kovaiputhalvan on November 8, 2010

Owing to a fortuitous combination of circumstances, I find myself in Sunny Sunnyvale for the next two weeks. I made a wisecrack about Sunnyvale being Sunny two days ago – and promptly, it poured today. I’d stepped out from my well appointed digs on an expedition to discover a pedestrian/bicycle route to work. This of course, is an after effect of my straddling the trusty blue Schwinn Frontier every morning to pedal the 10-odd Km to work daily in Bangalore for the past quarter. A friend has promised me the use of his spare iron horse (OK, aluminium, not really iron) while I’m here.

Walking in a light rain, with the temperature down to single digits, self clad in a tee and quick-dry shorts was good fun. Disappointment struck in the form of a “sidewalk closed” sign very near the end of my planned 4 Km route to work. Pity – and pedestrians are supposed to be a respected lot here. Disappointed, but still feeling a tad chirpy (thanks be to Endorphins), I footed my way back home (yes, my tiny little hotel room is home for the time being), soaked thoroughly to the bone. Breakfast was scrambled eggs with chorizo, and salami on toast with salsa, which warmed the cockles of my ex-Tambram heart. I then set to work, using the hairdryer on my finely crafted pair from Adolf Dassler, which were now wet to their insoles. Wet shoes that do not dry well, as anyone with even a little experience in the matter can tell you, smell bad. To be precise, they smell like dog pee. As Mitra once put it, “Your shoes stink like a dog peed on them. The dog’s an Alsatian, if that’s any consolation“. The hairdryer did the trick, and to my immense satisfaction, I can’t find olfactory evidence of a canine anywhere nearby.

This time around, the flight in was comfortable. Thanks in no small amount to the fact that the particular airline I was travelling with (no choice of mine) was witness to a large number of cancellations. I was left with an entire row of three seats to sleep in. Not as comfortable as an Indian Railways second-class berth, but better than the alternative. The Pilot was kind enough to tell his passengers beforehand that the metal cylinder that he steered would pass over the North Pole, and for us to kindly look outside the window when said event happened. While I suffered the gross misfortune of being fast asleep when we crossed the North Pole, I did wake up shortly after – and witnessed how, as we left Siberia behind for Greenland, Alaska and Canada, night forsook us and day arrived. Northern America brought with it some breathtakingly beautiful landscape. In an earlier life, about six years ago, I looked skywards in the dead of night, on a lonely beach off the Konkan coast and marvelled at how insignficant we were when compared to the heavens. This time, I looked down and marvelled at how huge the earth was. There were endless blankets of snow, enveloping vast expanses of water – and the other way round as well. All the adjectives in the world could not do justice to the unfolding canvas of black and white that I saw from my tiny little aeroplane window. Mind you, when viewed from 10 Km up in the sky, massive buildings become as small as ants, and tall mountains compare with small piles of sand. So imagine my awe when I beheld landscape that was truly gargantuan! The black and white gave way to a carpet of mountains, gleaming silver and gold in the sunlight where the snow had capped them.

I can only hope that I stay awake when the metal cylinder I’m sitting in crosses the North Pole on the way back, two weeks hence. And that there is daylight then.

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Posted by kovaiputhalvan on October 31, 2010

Nothing can turn a crappy day around like the discovery of good music. Soul stirring, pouring-oil-on-troubled-watersy calming, /good/ music.

Mingus. Mingus Ah Um. Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus.

And more to follow. I wish I could buy some of this music. Till then, Grooveshark will have to do.

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Posted by kovaiputhalvan on July 26, 2010

Mmf. Been a while.

It’s funny how you wake up one dim, dreary and depressing Monday morning with the beginnings
of a bad cold, and decide to apply the feather duster to your long neglected blog. Never mind
that the good blend of Arabica, Robusta, Milk and Sugar that usually ensures my sanity for the rest of
the day has not yet been brewed. I don’t know what’s worse – the fact that I haven’t imbibed my morning
dose of ambrosia, or that I won’t be able to smell it for a while.

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Posted by kovaiputhalvan on March 6, 2010

Quick post.

I love Vi[m], and Mutt. Can’t live without them. Used to prefer Konqueror to Firefox just because I could hjkl my way through in the former – never mind that Firefox has matured better in other ways.

And then I stumbled across Vimperator

It’s. Freakin. Awesome.

Vimperator lets me do much more than hjkl – oh, the thrill of being able to close a tab by :q-ing it! If you like Firefox, and are staying away from it just because of its keyboard unfriendliness, give VIMperator a try. If you like Vi[m], you won’t regret it.

Am running off now to pick up the better half and the little devil, go have lunch and then visit the nice new library that’s opened up close by. Soon, hopefully very soon, I should be able to donate some money to these the Vimperator guys. I have to get my credit card unblocked first – and that’s a story in itself – it involves two guys, a girl and a pizza place.

Now, if /only/ someone came up with a window manager that spoke Vi… That would be the best thing since sliced bread. Yep, I’ve tried ratpoison once. Perhaps I should try it again.

Posted in Unix | 2 Comments »

Lost Phone Blues

Posted by kovaiputhalvan on March 5, 2010

The times, they’re a changing.

Time was when I could hold all the important phone numbers that I needed to know in my head. I still remember some of them – but not all of them. Definitely not the entire contents of my phone’s address book. Which fact I came to rue the day before yesterday, when I discovered to my horror that I’d lost my mobile phone. And hadn’t backed up its address book anywhere. Drat.

If you’re reading this, and we’ve spoken on the phone before – PLEASE send me an sms with your name in it, so that I can save your number. You probably know mine, it hasn’t changed.

Posted in Not Worth Reading | 3 Comments »

Mysterious are the ways of the mind

Posted by kovaiputhalvan on February 26, 2010

Ahhh… I’m sitting at a cafe’ in Changi airport, jetlagged like crazy after the {insert insane two-digit number here}-hour long flight from San Francisco to Singapore via Kong Kong. There’s a power socket nearby, which is very convenient, since my laptop’s batteries have all but given up their ghost. The WiFi is free for 6 hours, which is good as well – my layover is around 8 hours long, and I’m already into hour 3.

So why the weird title? With nothing much to do at hand, I was idly reading through some NFS stuff. While I was idly reading through some NFS stuff, a rather sweet-voiced female announcer was appraising her listeners of the imminent departure of flight number SQ6-something to Zurich. Only, the announcement was in German. As I heard Ess-Ku Sechs-und-something, my mind read ZETATTR instead of SETATTR. Gah. I’m sure my German teacher would’ve been pleased to hear that, were I still in touch with her. On the other hand, about the only German I remember now is pretty much the numbers and the cuss-words.


Must. Stay. Awake.

update Correction: The flight number couldn’t possibly have been SQ6-something. It had to have been SQ-something-6 – as in Ess-Ku Sechs und Zwanzig.

update #2: Hooray! I haven’t forgotten too much. There were these two kids sitting close by, chattering away in Deutsch, and I could /actually/ follow most of their conversation! It went something like “Okay, what time is our plane? It’s at 4.15. Genau. (I’m not bothering to translate Genau). Where’s mama? Oh, there she is, there she is (If I were to literally translate the German, it would turn out to be “there she comes, there she comes” – wouldn’t sound too good, would it? Dort kommt Sie, dort kommt Sie).

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