Sunday, January 25, 2009

Pain in the ....!

This was my first winter at Bangalore after 3 years. Strange? Even more strange is that this had not really occurred to me till now! From 2005 to 2007, my abroad trips have exactly fallen during winter time! And these were the more severe of the winters I've ever had - Boise and Sunnyvale definitely beat Bangalore in the low-temperature contest, hands down! But somehow I did not feel any different this time around too - why?

Perhaps the reason lies in the lots of common things that usually happen to me during winter time. Of those lots of common things, there is one particular thing that haunts me the most - something that keeps me down for 7-10 days at a stretch, something that makes me think about all those wrong things I've done in my life, makes me wonder if I'm being punished for those sins, me realize how frail this little embodiment of our earthly soul really is! NECK SPRAIN!!

Yes, that's right - somehow, I've managed to get a bad neck sprain during winter, 4 years in a row! Is this a record of some sort?! Now I recollect all those past incidents leading up to this.
  1. Ouch - that heavy snowball - I never saw that coming from my left!
  2. Should not have tried a head-stand in the freezing weather, alone!
  3. Should have learnt by now that mobility of neck is proportional to the temperature!
  4. Some verbally sophisticated dude once said that there's nothing coincidental, only consequential. I'd agree in most cases, but this time, I'd say "Never trust amateurs, especially in a gym!"
One of the effects of the sprain, the head being tilted right sideways, sometimes, can offer a different perspective towards life - one can now see an angle not seen often. Also, there was an enhanced sense of intuitiveness during this time - I think it was the extra blood that would now circulate through my right brain! There may not be any substantiation for this - but my instinct tells me I'm right.

So, you see, its not that bad afterall - you get all the attention at home, get to slack off at home during working days even though you are "working from home" + you get time to study more important things like the good effects of green tea, lateralization of brain functions, etc while "working from home".

Boy, I cannot wait till the next winter!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tip to speed up your broadband

Standard Disclaimer: I do not, in any way, take responsibility for any sort of mishaps that could happen by following the tips I give on this subject. I have tried it and it worked for me. Does not necessarily mean that it would work the same for everyone. You've been forewarned!

UPDATE! Post has been updated - see end of post for changes.

Lately I'd been experiencing rather slow browsing speeds on my home broadband connection. Initially I thought that it was due to that Mediterranean cable problem that was prevalent at that time. But my problems seemed to continue past the point when that under sea cable problem was sorted out. So, I decided do dig into this a bit deeper.

The settings and results on my ADSL modem's page were fine. Nothing out of sorts, no high noise on the line. Then, I called up BSNL to have my phone line checked. Amazingly they were very prompt and came to my home, just 2 days after I'd submitted a request - they gave my phone like a clean chit too - no problems there. Then I kinda gave up on this for a few days. Browsing speed was still slow but I sort of got used to it. Then, this past saturday, my friends had come over to my place and they complained that my broadband was extremely slow and that it was significantly faster at their places. Now, this was the last straw - I had to solve this problem.

So, I sat down yesterday evening - I did all the usual checks - still no luck. One thing caught my eye during browsing - the initial DNS lookup seemed to be taking quite a while. Browser seemed to sit waiting at "Resolving host ..." for unusually long times. I checked my DNS settings - I was using 61.1.96.69 (primary DNS) and 61.1.96.71 (secondary DNS). I discovered that both these servers are dead as they did not respond to ping. Then how were the DNS lookups getting thru? Turned out that my ADSL modem itself was fetching the DNS resolves - confirmed this by nslookup (host or dig on *nix). I searched on the (still slow) internet for latest BSNL DNS servers and found 218.248.240.208 (primary DNS) and 218.248.240.135(secondary DNS). These 2 servers were not dead - they were responding for pings. I updated my DNS settings. Now the speeds seemed to be better than before. I still continued to research whether I can improve on this further. Some people on broadband forums suggested that opendns servers were better performing that our BSNL servers. I tried them out, but I could not find much difference between the two. Then, it struck me that a local DNS would be much much faster than contacting any of the external DNS servers. I wasted no further time and setup local DNS (bind or pdnsd under linux and treewalk DNS under windows) and set my DNS to be 127.0.0.1. Lo and behold, after some initial 5 minutes of browsing, speeds increased significantly!

Hence, I would recommend using of a local caching DNS server for improved broadband speeds. It takes very minimal of CPU and disk resources and its worth the effort to set it up. Treewalk DNS is just a straightforward install on windows. For bind under unix, see this for help in setting it up.

Now, let me get back and enjoy a better and more responsive online multiplayer FPS gameplay :D

## Update - Under linux, bind has been found to be rather resource hungry and a tad vulnerable to exploits. You may overcome some of these risks by running bind-chroot. But I found pdnsd to be a better substitute to bind. Its lightweight and the DNS cache works like a charm!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Beast is coming back!

Iron Maiden are returning to Bangalore for a gig - this is their second time in the city after 17th March 2007. After my experience at that concert, and also after I missed the Mar 2008 concert in Mumbai, I cannot rest until I get my hands on the tickets!

Unlike last time, tickets are available only through the DNA networks site. Its both good and bad. Also, not that I'm not willing to spend an exorbitant amount (1600 INR) of money for the concert ticket, I'm still waiting to see if any of my sources can get to an inside man(/woman) and land me a free ticket like last time! :D But this waiting game is going to be short, for I cannot risk even the slightest possibility of wasting too much time and tickets being sold out by then. But from past experiences I've seen that DNA usually sells more tickets than the actual capacity of the venue - like, take for example the 2007 gig. The officially advertised head count at the concert was 12000. But, there were reports of close to 16000 people being there on that day! So, this should also allow me a (small) extra buffer period.

Of all the bands I follow - this one's different man - I mean, which other band on the face of this earth, is so loyal to the fans that they spend almost 4 months of a year touring around the world?! Which other band has a custom built Boeing 757-200 aircraft to fly the band, the entire stage crew and all the cargo to all their gigs?! Which other band has their frontman actually flying that aircraft?! And which other band, actually fly fans to the concert venue on their own aircraft?! I cannot decide what is cooler among all of the above stuff about them! Nothing would beat this - making great music for the last 25 years and still being so down to earth!



Well, I think I should start building up stamina for some non-stop screaming on the concert day! If you're a maidenhead reading this, see you at the gig mate!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New domain name

If you are seeing this page, you can see from your address bar that the blog address now reads http://blog.srinivas.co.in - that's right! I just bought my own domain. For now, its just the domain name and no hosting. This blog is still hosted at blogger. I see this as a first step. Time and will permitting, I should get some more new things onto srinivas.co.in. 

Now, those occasional readers who drop by here, please update your bookmarks/blogrolls to http://blog.srinivas.co.in. Thanks