Anurag Jain's Blog
Friday, December 31, 2004

Zany in-flight announcement

This is from NUTS! These guys at Southwest Airlines really go to great lengths to create fun and humor at workplace and to indulge customers in SWA's unique fun culture. Authors Kevin Freiberg and Jackie Freiberg reconstruct a particular in-flight announcement:

During one of our trips from Dallas to San Diego, Southwest flight attendant Karen Wood captivated the passengers on the Phoenix-San Diego leg with this rendition of the safety announcements:

If I could have your attention for a few moments, we sure would love to point out those safety features. If you haven't been in an automobile since 1965, the proper way to fasten your seat belt is to slide the flat end into the buckle. To unfasten, lift up on the buckle and it will release.

As the song goes, there might be fifty ways to leave your lover, but there are only six ways to leave this aircraft: two forward-exit doors, two over-wing removable window exits, and two aft exit doors. The location of each exit is clearly marked with signs overhead, as well as red and white disco lights along the floor of the aisle (Made ya look!).

Located in the seatback pocket in front of you or to the side of you in the lounge area, among the peanut wrappers, coffee cups and newspapers, you should find an emergency information card supplementing our safety features. Take note on the back that in the event of a water evacuation, your bottom -- your seat bottom, that is, can be used as a flotation device by removing the cushion, holding the straps underneath it, and choosing your favorite stroke.

Please check at this time to make sure your seat belts are securely fastened, seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright and most uncomfortable position, and all the carry-on luggage you've brought in is crammed underneath the seat in front of you, or in one of the overhead bins.

FAA regulations require passenger compliance with all lighted passenger information signs, posted placards, and crew member instructions, regarding seat belts and no smoking. In other words do exactly what we say!

Speaking of smoking, there's never any smoking aboard our flights. You know what happens if we catch you smoking here at Southwest, don't you? You'll be asked to step out onto our wing and enjoy our feature movie presentation, "Gone With The Wind." There is never any smoking, even in lavatories.

Finally, although we never anticipate a change in cabin pressure, should one occur, four oxygen masks will magically appear overhead. Immediately stop screaming, please deposit a quarter, and unlike President Clinton, you must inhale! If you're seated next to a child or traveling with someone who is acting like a small child, secure yourself first and then assist him or her. Please continue wearing the mask until otherwise notified by a uniformed crew member - yes, believe it or not, these are uniforms! And we do need to tell you that the bag does not inflate, but you still are receiving oxygen. Sit back, relax and enjoy a one-hour flight to San Diego on the best airline in the universe - Southwest. Southwest Airlines is determined to offer Positively utrageous Service to customers.


For the grand finale, the flight was concluded with this:

Oh, my airline has a first name, it's S-O-U-T-H; my airline has a second name, it's W-E-S-T. Oh, I love to fly it every day and if you ask me why, I'll say, 'cause Southwest Airlines has a way of bringing sunshine to your day.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Quantam Darwinism

I've been interested in quantum physics of late. Now, here's an extremely interesting article that explains how the quantum world is constructed and how the quantum theory is compliant with general logic.

The study on which the article is based, answers the following logical quandary (verbatim from article) "If, as quantum mechanics says, observing the world tends to change it, how is it that we can agree on anything at all? Why doesn't each person leave a slightly different version of the world for the next person to find?"


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Saturday, December 18, 2004

Aerial Photography ban removed!

Finally, after 5 decades of nation's existence, Indian government has removed the restrictions on clicking pictures at the airports and from the airborne aircraft. It always pained me while flying to not be able to click the wonderful landscape. A while back, I was arranging for the aerial photoraphy for a friend of mine in Goa. And we were told by the charter companies to do it in a hush-hush manner, because if we did it openly, we would have needed permission from the DGCA!

Anyways, its about time such arcane and archaic laws were removed! I sure am glad to see this... You can also look at the official orders at DGCA site. The orders are reproduced here.
AIC 7 of 2004 Order No 9/12/2003-IR -- Permission of photography inside an aircraft
No. 9/12/2003-IR
New Delhi, dated the 9th December, 2004
In exercise of the powers conferred by rule 13 of the Aircraft Rules, 1937, the Director General of Civil Aviation hereby permits bonafide passengers traveling in an aircraft engaged in scheduled air transport services to take photographs from inside such an aircraft while in flight and while landing, take off and on ground at civil aerodromes. This permission is, however, not applicable when such aircraft is landing, taking off or on ground at a defence erodrome.

Photography at terminal building in civil aerodromes
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
MINISTRY OF CIVIL AVIATION
DIRECTORATE GENERAL OF CIVIL AVIATION
New Delhi, Dated the 25th August, 2003
ORDER
S.O. 967 (E) -- In exercise of the powers conferred by proviso to rule 13 of the Aircraft Rules, 1937, the Director General of Civil Aviation hereby directs that the restrictions on photography at aerodromes as specified in rule 13 of the said rules shall not apply in the terminal building of the civil aerodromes.
(F.No. 9/12/2003-IR)


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Friday, December 17, 2004

SexaMathematica!

Who woulda thought that someone would write on the subject of how mathematics and sex are related. Well, here it is. To cap it all, the author Clio Cresswell is not only a mathematician but also a woman, and 'not only a woman, but also someone who was voted one of Australia's 50 most beautiful people in their equivalent of People magazine'! Read the review here on /. Let a thousand fantasies bloom!

Just wondering when are they gonna come out with Management and Sex? Oh, never mind.

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Thursday, December 16, 2004

Get a Jet!

Indian Air Force (IAF) is giving away vintage Jets for free! The objective is to display them in your cities. This is definitely a laudable initiative. As a nation, we do need to display and take proud in our strategic capabilities. Heck, I think I'll apply for one.

Hello, local IAF office please?

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Monday, December 13, 2004

Do not try this at home (or corporate/school/place of your non-choice).

Okay, okay, I goofed up, jumped the gun, got ahead of myself, did whatever you call it by misconjecturig and misconstruing the results of Exchange server upgradation in my last post. Lot of /. readers (somebody said in the comments that these guys have bloated egos. Tell me about it!) pointed out probable flaws in the situation as put forth by me. Of course, some readers (I am supposing they are not slashdot regulars!) supported my article too with their own similar experience.

Anyhoo, let's get it done with. Major arguments aganist the radical spam-reduction method 'proposed' by me were:
1) Spammers don't care two hoots about if the mail addresses are bouncing.
2) During the upgrade, my school might have upgraded/included the/a spam filter.

Opinion about point 1) is still divided and I am not sure if I can say much about that point. To have a credible opiion on that, we need a certified-spammer (?) to come forward and explain.

But, about point 2), well, I can tell you now that is exactly what happened during our server upgrade. After being thrown around like a tennis ball on my comments page (man, u /.ers have no mercy!), I hurriedly talked to sysadmin who told me that before server upgradation, there was no content-filteration at our mail server. But during the Exchange server upgradation, they installed InterScan Messaging Security Suite, a comprehensive content-filtering product that comes with anti-virus module too. Currently the spam traffic being caught at the server is some 20,000 junk mails a day. Ergo, there you have it: it is because of the IMSS' Advanced Content Filtering and Intelligent, Adaptive Spam Filtering Module that the spam mail was reduced to trickle and not because of the two-day server shutdown.

Well, now.. that's the end of that.

And now, I am moving to Himalayas for a few days so that i don't have to read /.ers' reactions to this! Moreover, I heard of a Sadhu at the top of Himalayas who is said to have a magical solution to spam problems. Apparently a former software engineer, he was so fed up of spam mails that he retreated to Himalayas to be left alone and became a Sadhu. It is rumoured that after his long prayers and meditation, God gave him a solution to Spam. So, here I go to retrieve that from him and to save humanity. Wait till I come back with that new, improved, bigger, and better magical solution!! (Hey, you still believe me?!)

PS: To the people who were planning to shut down server over the weekend, I hope you didn't. If you did, I can only hope you don't read this.

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Thursday, December 09, 2004

De-Spamming The Inbox: The Hard Way

Even after using precautions like dummy email address in public forums, I have been plagued by the spam mails for long time now. Two years back it used to be a few per day. And since then it has been a steady increase in the volume. As a result, till last weekend I used to get around 200 spam mails a day on my Institute's life-time email account. Then, one fine day (well, actually we were given notice 3 weeks in advance) our Institute decided to upgrade the Exchange mail server to the latest version. Hence the mail server was shut down for approximately 2 days/48 hours (4th Dec evening to 5th Dec noon). During that time, all the mails sent to my mail account were of course bouncing. Between the time when the system was shut down and the time when the system came back online on 5th noon, something miraculous had happened: My spam traffic had reduced considerably. Now I am receiving 'only' (!) 5-6 spam mails everyday! That is a 97.5 % drop in spam traffic! Interesting, eh? So what's happening is that the spammer dudes are dropping the bounced mail IDs like a mad-cow disease affected, well, cow. There doesn't seem to be a second try from spammers: Apparently they don't use the bounced email IDs again. I would assume that after the two-day shut-down/start-up of mail server, my spam traffic would have become zero. My current 'very low' spam traffic is only probably because of my email being available in public domain on webpages where I can not remove it from (damn my early Internet days' Naivete).

Essentially, for this De-Spamming methodology we can draw an analogy with the routine detoxing of the body. Example: On the basis of specific relgious beliefs, people fast once in a while. More than the religious custom, fasting has a scientific reason behind it: It detoxifies whole internal system by a) giving the body some much-needed rest and b) by cleansing the traces of toxins (as there's no fresh inflow, the bodily processes work on the left-over inventory and makes sure that it is digested properly and taken care of to give a fresh start the day after the fast).

So, is De-Toxing (De-Spamming) the Inbox by fasting/starving! (shutting down the Mail Server) a good idea? Well its effetive for sure, but it has its costs. You lose the genuine mail traffic for the duration of shut-down. Hence, if you are in a desperate need of De-Spamming your Inbox, here's what you should do. Let's say you plan to shut your mail sever down on Date T and you plan to bring it back to life after Y days. The question is for how long do you shut down the mail server? Well, I think most mail programs try to re-send the mail for a maximum of 48 hours. If the message doesn't go through even in 48 hours, the mail program gives up and finally returns error to the sender. Hence, to be on the safer side I would say, shut the mail server down for at least 48 hours (2 day). So once you have decided on a shut-down date and duration, here's the how-to guide to shutdown survival and resurrection thereafter!
1) T-30 (days) : Include in your mail signature at the top the "Please Note" clause stating that during days X to Y, your email won't be available and hence on those days, they should communicate to you on an alternative email ID. This should be highlighted in Bold and in a different color if possible.
2) T-15 (days): Remove all possible traces of your email ID from the Internet, public egroups, discussion boards or any other public forum.
3) T-15 (days): If you have to keep your email ID on a particular webpage in the public domain, encrypt your email ID by using simple HTML Codes for characters.
4) T-2 (days): Send all the people in your contact/address list a "Please Note" notification that during days X to Y, your email won't be available and hence on those days, they should communicate to you on an alternative email ID.
5) T-0: Well, shut the damn thing down!
6) T to Y: a) If you have a girlfriend, take a vacation with her.
                b) If you dont have a girlfriend, check mails on the temporary alternative email ID.
7) T+Y (days): Bring the server back to life and enjoy the miracle of spam-free/reduced-spam Inbox!
8) T+Future: Make sure you do not release your email ID in public domain. Always use dummy email ID, like aj@example.com . Also, If you are the guy who was checking mails on alternative email ID during shutdown, go get a girlfriend just in case it didn't work very well the last time and you need to shut it down again sometime!

Happy De-Toxing/De-Spamming! Here's one to long spam-free life of your email ID!

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Monday, December 06, 2004

Climbing the ladder of Success!

Got this pic from a friend. In this age of digital content manipulation, my first reaction always is that of distrust. I tend to disbelieve any pictorial content on Net. This pic, however, seems to be genuine especially because Heritage Building seems to be the building on which Mr Narayan Murthy is climbing. Photo must probably date back to the early days of Infosys campus (early 90s).



With the benefit of hindsight, knowing what he's created, he can be said to be climbing the Ladder of Success in the picture!

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Sunday, December 05, 2004

Lonely Planet? Lovely Planet? :)

Didja know the origin of Lonely Planet's name? I think I had read about it quite sometime back, but recently got reminded when I read about it in ToI:

It comes from the Joe Cocker/Leon Russell film Mad Dogs & Englishmen. It had a song called Space Captain, with a line which went 'once while travelling across the sky, this lonely planet caught my eye'. Sounds nice I thought, so we used it. Except I'd misheard it. The correct phrase was 'lovely planet.' So, the name has been a 30-year mistake.

From the official site:
It's from a line in "Space Captain," a song by Joe Cocker and Leon Russell from the album "Mad Dogs and Englishmen." The actual words from the song are "lovely planet" but Tony Wheeler heard "lonely planet" and liked it and the rest is history.

Interesting, eh!

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Identity Correction!

Every heard of that term? Well, that's what The Yes Men claim to practice. And they seem to be pretty good at it. The latest identity correction they made was on Dec 03, 2004 - the 20th anniversary of Bhopal Gas Leak disaster - posing as a Dow Chemicals spokesperson and owning the responsibility for Bhopal disaster. A Yes Men member tricked BBC into believing that he was the official Dow spokesperson. The BBC broadcast this interview with 'Dow Spokesperson' twice before realizing and removing it and all its traces. This particular identity correction assumes significance especially because Dow had bought Union Carbide, company which operated the Bhopal plant at the time of accident, and since then Dow has been refusing to own up the responsibility.

The Yes Men's concept of identity correction seems quite interesting, and in fact, needed in today's irresponsible world. More about them at wikipedia:

The Yes Men's most famous prank is placing a "corrected" WTO website at gatt.org (GATT is the treaty that led to the WTO). The fake site began to receive real emails from confused visitors, including invitations to address various elite groups on behalf of the WTO, which they obligingly took up. Showing up in newly-purchased suits, The Yes Men gave speeches encouraging corporations to buy votes directly from citizens, arguing that the US Civil War was a waste of money because Third World countries now willing supply equivalent slaves, and arguing that people should listen to the WTO, not the facts, because the WTO had a lot of experts.

Good to know that somebody is doing the right thing and trying to shake people's/corporate's conscience..

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Saturday, December 04, 2004

Dotting the Kanakpura Road

Last to last Sunday, I attended the 2004 National Conference of FJEI (Federation of Jain Education Institutes). The event was organized at the JIRS (Jain International Residental School). JIRS is a new-age residential school located outside Bangalore (40 Km). It was fun driving all the way to the school. From IIMB campus, rather than going to the JP Nagar ring road and then to Kanakpura road, I went via Bannerghatta Park. When you go to the (sort of) end of Bannerghatta Road, you get a triangle: Goto left and you reach Anekal/Pearl Valley; Go straight (half a km) to goto Bannerghatta National park; Goto left and thats a branch road that after 10 kms or so joins Kaggalipura on Kanakpura Road. So I took the last route. The road between Bannerghatta and Kagalipura is not a great road in terms of quality, but its definitely scenic. I'd been there with a very good friend to explore Swarnamukhi Falls earlier.

After attending the conference, on the way back, I took full NH-209 route up to Ring road intersection. On the way, spotted a place called Vishrant Dhama. Gotta go inside sometime and check what is it. A lil further up, dropped in at the Art of Living International Center. I always wanted to visit it and see what's it about. Just a bit after AoL ashram, saw 'The Chef Dhaba and Family Restaurant', a place where I've had many good lunches with a very good friend of mine. While coming very close to Bangalore, went to Shankara Foundation just to meet a few old friends. Btw, I had also attended the 6th Bangalore Quiz at Kukumudi (the restaurant at Shankara) only 2 days back.

Essentially, mapped all the landmarks on the Kanakpura road in the short trip!

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Friday, December 03, 2004

Meeting Baichung Bhutia

I am not at all into sports and therefore know of a very few sportsmen. Baichung Buita is one of those few sports personalities that I happen to know of. He's the only Indian football player to have played English League football. Recently, by a pleasant surprise got to know that Baichung Bhutia happens to be a close friend of a good friend of mine! Hence, when Baichung was here in Bangalore this week, I was duly introduced to him and we went partying at The Spinn. Baichung is a real neat, down-to-earth guy, and meeting him was real fun.

Update: Dec 04, 2111hrs: Read a real funny yet true(!) account of my meeting Baichung at Reem's. Reem: We both need to be educated on sports, but you certainly need it more than I do! :)

Talking about footballers, here's a trivia quiz question I picked up from a quiz forum:
Which footballer, when asked whether he would prefer sleeping with a Ms World or dribbling the ball past 5 defenders and dodging the goalkeeper to score a goal, chose the latter. He, however, ended up doing both. Name him.

Answer: ---> George Best <---
(To see the answer, select the space between the arrows with your mouse - click and drag mouse over the next line just like you select text in word processing applications. Or just press Ctrl-A)

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