Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last blog of the decade.

Hello all,
A lot has happened in the past four months, and it's high time I did blog about it. As the title suggests, this would be the last blog of the year, and of the decade too, hence there's the end-of-the-year wrap-up section following.
As for the gadget guys around, I recently bought a Seagate 1TB HDD. It's impressively small and sleek enough to fit in between my system cabinet and one of the speakers, which is barely any space IMO. I also purchased an also-run webcam with basic features since my dad's been going around the country all too often these days. And a replacement for my old Intex Headphones: Frontech (forgot the model).

My Phone's working okay, but I'm unable to find an 8GB M2 card around here. I could go to one of those nasty little basement stores, but I'm not guaranteed of reliable stuff down there.

Rant on Seagate External Hard Drive:
Starting with the price, it's quite surprisingly economical, costing around 5 grands (rupees). Owing to the high capacity and high transfer speeds, there's an external power supply. Compared to the other external hard drives, this one is bigger by about two times and has got more vents. The transfer speeds are quite impressive, almost as fast as the internal drives, and makes my PC look airy with lots of space :P
The hard drive comes with a bunch of softwares which could do a variety of things like creating auto-backups, encrypting files stored in it, and creating virtual space and thereby securing a part of the drive, just like false bottom of a draw. One also gets a movie-making software, which isn't any different from our good old windows movie maker.


My friend recently received a Nokia N97 on his birthday (amazing!) and I got some chance to play around with it. Actually, I had to tutor him on how to use half its features. Well, he's indeed a little nervous about the phone, thanks to the cost!
Talking about the phone, it's got a very attractive slide system. The touch screen adds to the goodness, but isn't as sensitive as the iPhone, and the stylus is a potential damage weapon to the screen. I'd recommend not to use it if you're invoking a paint-like software (don't remember the name, duh!)
Otherwise, N97's got an excellent music interface and great speakers. The highlight of this phone is the FM transmitter. One could set their own frequency on the phone and relay songs with a radius of 10m. It's particularly useful when one wants to listen to songs from his phone while driving...or when its party-time :) I tested this system vigorously for the quality; I played Radiohead in it, and was quite impressed. As far as how Radiohead is, I'll come to it later ;)


My guitar lessons have finally ended. I mean, not completed, but ended i.e., my guitar instructor/teacher has returned to the US after completing his mission here. We had a nice farewell, and he gifted my bro (and figuratively, me) a new guitar :) Since then I and my brother have been covering various songs, mostly from Radiohead. We haven't found a good guitar teacher yet, but I've been lately taking online lessons from Warren Lain on youtube.

Apart from that, I've been mostly studying as the JEE comes closer and closer. Tomorrow will be 2010, a BIG step closer to the bang-day! I've improved over the period of past few months, scoring pretty well and staying fairly certain of scratching into the college. Although there's still a long long way to go before I'm satisfied.

Best of 2009

And so has another year gone with all its exciting and contrastingly dull events. However one may refer to it, one more circle around the sun, or one more year closer to its end, it's finally 2010, and I'm glad it is.
On personal opinions, I would say 2009 went the fastest for me since I was very busy with studies and also the strange act of balancing many other things. Surprisingly, I've listened to more music than ever, watched more number of movies than any year in the last decade, and (obviously) studied much more!

Moving on to my personal charts,

*All that I shall be talking about need not have released in 2009, but come across by me in 2009.
**I'm not making a end-of-decade chart since it would all be concentrated around 2008-2009 even if i made one.


Top 10 albums of the year:

10. Homogenic - Bjork
9. Daydream Nation - Sonic Youth
8. The Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd
7. Led Zeppelin IV - Led Zeppelin
6. Unknown Pleasures - Joy Division
5. Is This It - The Strokes
4. Revolver - Beatles
3. Kid A - Radiohead
Runner: Turn On The Bright Lights - Interpol
I came across this album not more than a month back, and it steadily rose up my favourites with every listen.
'Turn on the bright lights' is Interpol's debut album released in 2002.
Beginning with the dark Untitled, Interpol takes us through fast paced tracks, amazing ballads and thought provoking lyrics. Though the band's line-up is nothing much but electric guitars and pick-basses, the lead is melodic, and music is difficultly tight! It did keep up to my friend's words "the album will grow over you like an e^x graph."
Must Listen: Untitled, Obstacle 1, NYC, Hands Away, Leif Erikson

Winner: In Rainbows - Radiohead
Two Radiohead albums have made it to the top 5.
Starting with a groovy song with icy beats, the album progresses into britop and then in for some soft and abstract songs, then coming to win my heart with Faust Arp and Reckoner, further proceeding on with dark but soothing stracks such as House of Cards and Videotape. From the guitar point of view, the album has got a LOT to learn from, right from the first track till the last one! Some of the songs have surprisingly simple bases, which, I wish, had struck me.
In Rainbows in an excellent album and does feel like a rainbow in the sky; every track has it's own greatness and also sums up the band's journey across various music styles from The Bends.
Must Listen: 15 Step, Bodysnatchers, Nude...hell, listen to the whole album!

Top 10 tracks of the year:

10. Wilderness - Joy Division
9. I Might Be Wrong - Radiohead
8. Obstacle 1 - Interpol
7. Actor Out of Work - St.Vincent
6. Silver Rocket - Sonic Youth
5. Untitled - Interpol
4. Alone, Together - The Strokes
3. Tomorrow Never Ends - Beatles
Runner: Stairway To Heaven - Led Zeppelin -- Although I had first listened to it in 2008, I actually knew about it only around March 2009. Ever since the first listen, it's been at the top. One of the most optimistic song that takes you through the entire process of consolation. Lyrically, it's a song to worship. The lead guitar and guitar/drum sync is incredibly beautiful! I listen to it every time I'm a bit depressed.

Winner: Paranoid Android - Radiohead -- I remember Reetesh had suggested last year that I listen to it. It was a a so-so song for me then. But in course of the twelve months that went by, the song grew over me faster than a massive and destabilized hydrogen fusion reaction.
Beginning with a very jazzy, and indie beat, the song progresses into angst laden melodies, then entering the heavy bit with Jonny's blasting solos..the song then undergoes a massive slowdown only to get faster again with a bang! Every bit of the song gives me goosebumps and not a day goes without listening to it. Greatness!



I haven't watched many movies lately, thanks to the academic priorities, but of those I've watched,

  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
  • 2012
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the crystal skull
  • October Sky
Runner: October Sky
October Sky is a pleasant movie about four high school boys living in a town supported by a coal mine. Inspired by the launch of Sputnik at that time, they set out to build their own rocket. The fun-filled journey with good deal of obstacles make the movie memorable. Another great aspect of the movie is that I could relate myself to the characters and their pressures at various stages, such as performing in academics, making an earning, etc.

Winner: A Clockwork Orange
One of the most thought provoking movies I've ever watched. The only other movie that impressed me as much was The Dark Night, which topped my chart last year :) The highlight of the movie is it's plot that is strong enough to make the viewer ignore many of it's shockingly perverse scenes. A must watch for anyone who can tolerate a perverse atmosphere (almost everyone, that would be) :P

EDIT: I haven't watched the two great movies of 2009: Inglorious Basterds and Avatar. I wish I did.

Hindi (Indian):

As I mentioned before, I've watched more number of Hindi movies than I did the theatre, I mean.

  • Dev D
  • Kaminey
  • 3 Idiots
Runner: Kaminey
An excellently narrated story of twins whose lifes are disjoint, but very much intertwined. Inspired by Tarantino flicks, it's an offbeat, yet a very catchy movie with a never-seen-before (in India) plot that thickens with every passing scene.

Winner: 3 Idiots
I'm still running out of words to praise this masterpiece. It was the perfect ending for 2009 and released at a very strategic time when half the student population of the country is busy preparing for one of the most toughest exams mankind has seen. It's just as amazing as Kaminey with excellent plot, but also has an underlying message important for a happy life.


I've hardly read any books. The only two I did this year were The Last Theorem by Aurthur C. Clarke and The Theory of Everything by Stephen Hawkins.

Wish you all a Happy New Year which shall go just as fast with fewer bad moments greater success events!
I'm off!

Templar AKA Sumanth

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Paranoid or not, Definitely Android.

Hello all,

Days are hectic. Not much time. The two months have gone faster than it ever has...and I presume it will speed up ahead. Ahead of me comes the regular college exams after which I've got two major tests back to back on 3rd and 4th of October. SAT on the tenth of next month.
Trouble comes with the fact that, these tests include what I've learnt last year, which means I need to pretty much revise what I did back then, and also improvise upon it.
Here is a rough compilation of what I've been doing in the past 2 months during my breaks, free time and other times when I'm not locked up in my room.
(FYI, the PC is NOT in my room.)

On the first of June, I promised myself that I would pick up no non-academic work that would be time consuming, which includes reading novels. SAT requires quite a good vocabulary and language command, but with just a couple of months left to spare, any new effort would make no substantial difference IMO. The promise also covers restriction on jobs such as continue writing my novel and regular replies on forums.

I come online mostly only to reply to my friend's messages and listen to webcasts and podcasts of some of the sites I follow.
From what I've heard...
1) Looks like SUN has turned down IBM's proposal to acquire it.
2)Sony's announcement of PS3 slim version.
3)iPhone 3GS released sometime in June...runs on an Samsung Processor.
4)RIKEN is busy building a supercomputer that is expected to reach speeds of 10Petaflops.

The real me, or the non-digital ego inside me has been lately into a lot of music. I've also watched a couple of movies this year. Here are short reviews about them. The grammar would be erratic. No Pictures. Reason: Shortage of time. However, the list seems to be quite long, hence those who are not into much of music, please avoid this section of the blog.

On Movies

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (English)
Contains least usage of special effects, more realstic picturization with a darker theme portrayed without the gimmicks of direct violent horror. Closest to the book, and also the best in the series.
Rating: 4/5

Kaminey (Hindi; Indian)
Story revolves around twins - one is a lisp and the other stammers - is far away from the general emotional sequences. Dark theme of underworld intertwining with story of love. High violence. Blood and Gore. Figuratively a Tarantino inspired flick. Probably the best this year.
Rating: 4.5/5
(This is the first indian movie ever to have risen this high in my personal charts)

On Music

I've not put up the album covers since time does not permit that. Anyway, it's all about what you listen to.

OK Computer - Radiohead
An album that set a new direction to the trend of music in Britain during its time. Dotted with dark tracks, it's a treat to every alternate rock lover.
Rating: 4/5
Must listen: Airbag, Paranoid Android, Karma Police, Subterranean Homesick Alien, No Surprises

Tonight - Franz Ferdinand
The band has explored Europop and has come out with excellent tracks. Light hearted album with a carefree attitude.
Rating: 3/5
Must Listen: Ulysses, No You Girls, Send Him Away

Veckatimest - Grizzly Bear
One of the most innovative albums released this year, with a weird setting of darkness and abyss beyond the surface of the music.
Rating: 4.5/5
Must Listen: Southern Point, All we ask

The Bends - Radiohead
Very thoughtful usage of the tremolo pedal. Radiohead comes out with the wonderful atmospheres that the BritPop kings like Oasis have somewhat failed to create.
Rating: 4/5
Must Listen: Planet Telex, The Bends, Just, My Iron Lung, Street Sprit(Fade out)

Pablo Honey - Radiohead
Heavy, repetitive. Being Radiohead's debut album, it is a dead giveaway of the band's chief inspirations like Nirvana.
Rating: 2/5
Must Listen: Creep

Definitely Maybe - Oasis
A Beatles inspired band. The band's debut album with straight hit towards Nirvana; tracks having an attitude contrating to that of the latter.
Rating: 3/5
Must Listen: Supersonic, Live Forever

Fantasies - Metric
Outstanding vocals by Emily Haines. Guitar heavy tracks far away from Metal, but rocking! The quieter tracks are awesome too.
Rating: 3.5/5
Must Listen: Help I'm Alive, Guns Gold Girls, Help I'm alive(acoustic)

Kid A - Radiohead
The band's turning point. A venture into experimentation using french electronica instruments, computerized effects and icy beats, Kid A wins every patient mind's heart (:P).
Rating: 4.5/5
Must Listen: Everything in its right place, The National Anthem, How to disappear completely, Idioteque, Morning Bell, Motion Picture Soundtrack

Amnesiac - Radiohead
Dubbed to be Kid B, the album is referred to as the twin of Kid A. Tracks contain lyrics expressing depression, resent and longing for suicide, all the same, it's one of Radioheads most innovative ventures.
Rating: 4/5
Must Listen: Packt like sardines in a crushd tin box, The pyramid song, You and whose army, I Might be wrong, Amnesiac-morning bell.

Yellow House - Grizzly Bear
Secong studio album of the band. Ed Droste and bandmate Chris Taylor suggest that: "there is not really a theme with the lyrics but the theme of the album is us figuring out how to work together and recording in that house, which is what brought it together in that weird way."
Rating: 3.5/5
Must Listen: Lullabye, Knife, Central and Remote

Revolver - The Beatles
Band stands second in my top faves. Revolver explored the emerging genre of psychedelia. Loop tape effects, Reverse Guitar, repetitive drum beats. The band is also known for this album, as one of the earliest precursors of Electronica.
Rating: 4.5/5
Must Listen: Taxman, Eleanor Rigby, Doctor Robert, I want to tell you, Tomorrow Never knows

Led Zeppelin IV (Zoso) - Led Zeppelin
World renown album, and the final one by the band. The tracks have more of the bands native folk influence. This band happens to stand right behind the mighty Beatles.
Rating: 4/5
Must Listen: Stairway to heaven, Rock n Roll, Blackdog, Battle of Evermore

White Blood Cells - The White Stripes
Revisit into old style garage rock. Noisy and nostalgic, light minded music with probably not much sense.
Rating: 2.5/5
Must Listen: Offend in everyway, The Union forever, Aluminium

Urban Hymns - The Verve
Breezy album with hangover of the shoegazing movement of Britain. Peppered with positive and soothing tracks, all the same doing justice to the basic features of rock such as heavy drum beats.
Rating: 3/5
Must Listen: Bittersweet Symphony, Sonnet, The Rolling People

Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
Another revolutionary album from Seattle after Nevermind (nirvana) and Ten (Pearl Jam), but deep into the indie genre. The tracks have a lot in common with retro indian songs in terms of the tunes and synthesizer usage.
Rating: 3.5/5
Must Listen: Ragged Wood, Tiger Mountain Peasant Song, Your protector

I'm currently listening to:
Actor - St.Vincent
You could have it so much better - Franz Ferdinand
Abbey Road - The Beatles
These are my twiseted words - Radiohead
Seven Nation Army (off an album) - The White Stripes
All is Full of love(off an album again) - Bjork


Face off - Blackberry 8110, Sony Ericsson G502, Nokia 5130 Express Music

The mentioned phones are those that are presently at home and one day I set out compare them. I know, they're poles apart, but I just wanted to see which one of these excels the most.

Looks: G502. This little instrument is sleek and small in size but gives sufficient space for a two inch screen. BB's pearl is attractive, but on the whole, the phone is big and fat, and hence stands second. The Nokia instrument is curvy all over and gives an unpleasant impression.

Display: BB 8110. The three inch screen is almost as attractive as the tiny pearl placed in the center of the instrument. The larger screen with very good resolution makes BB top. The next is G502 and Nokia comes last again for its disfugred LCD display that gives weird shades at different angles when holding the phone vertically.

Security: BB 8110. Now that's quite obvious; all Blackberrys are renown for their strong security and real dense encryption of data. The Bluetooth is a main cause of lack of security in the other two, worse in G502 since the option to switch off Bluetooth is deep within a number of menus and in case of emergency, it could be too late.

Music/Sound Quality
>>On Speakers: Nokia 5130. It's quite surprising to be able to hear the bass line from the speakers of the phone. The volume range is quite big and is enough for the music to be audible around a standard sized dining table. Blackberry second.
>>In Earphones: G502. All Sony Ericsson phones (and Sony Walkman) are popular for the music quality, and this one isn't any less. The sound quality as very much comparable to that of an iPod. One small hitch is that the earphones are a bit too big and long time usage could hurt one's ears. Blackberry second.

Media Player Interface: G502. The Sony Ericsson's default media player gives complete track information, album art and a two way runtime. It's also easy to access the playlist. BB comes next. Both the phones have an integrated media player from where one can access music, video, podcasts, photos and voice notes. Nokia does not have a very good media player. The playlist is difficult to access simultaniously while playing a song.

Overall Interface: Tie. Both Nokia and Blackberry hit a tie here, for their own charm. Blackberry wins every techie's heart with its glowing pearl set strategically for optimum utility. It's amost like a mouse, but is thankfully not like the red dot in the middle of old IBM laptops.
Nokia 5130 attracts users with its media interface (not to be confused with the player interface) which includes buttons on the sides of the phones which control play/stop, next, previous and volume adjustment. The unique flashing effect when one opens the media player is also as good!
Sony Ericsson has a pretty bad interface; it would take sometime mastering it. Pressing the 'C' button could sometimes delete some particular data. It would take more than just common sense to operate the phone. Instructions on the screen has to be meticulously followed.

PC Suite: G502. The Sony Ericsson does not actually require a PC Suite, while the other two do. In the former, one could chose between Phone mode and Mass Storage mode. The Phone mode requires a PC Suite, but the Mass Storage mode makes is act just like a flash drive, which makes transfer of data way easier. The other two require a software on the PC, and of them, Nokia has a more user friendly desktop interface.

Final Face-Off

Format: First Place-1 point, second-0.5 point(s), third place-0 point(s)

Sony Ericsson G502: 5 Points
Blackberry Pearl 8110: 5 Points
Nokia Express Music 5130: 3 Points.

Which quite conveys that Sony's G502 and BB's 8110 are equally good in their own ways, while Nokia is behind.
One more factor that I've not mentioned is cost, where quite obviously Blackberry tops (most expensive). Nokia is the most economical of the three, costing not too much for all the also-run features it has. All the same, I've all the three, and this was just an analysis I did to satisfy the 'Templar' in me.

Alright then, time's up.

Hang on, here's something I wish to say before I sign off. All those of you who read my blog, please comment/reply to my posts in the COMMENT SECTION ONLY. When I receive replies through other media, my alter ego is put off and the real me at times fails to convey the point on cosidering factors such as social reputation, respect, courtesy etc. The internet is primarily a medium to share knowledge and we must hold on to its basic purpose.
Facebook users who might read this blog as a 'Note' on my profile may comment on this blog only. The link can be found in my Facebook profile.

Time varying magnetic fields affecting a rod lying on a horizontal plane with the magnetic field creating concentric electric fields that create a potential difference, and induce a static electric field inside the rod.....integration...'s the real me taking over...
Till my next blog...

Templar AKA Sumanth

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Rate Determining Step

Hey all...remember me?

I've been busy all these two months with numerous jobs to complete. Moreover, this happense to be the most crucial period of time in my life, as it is in everyone's: The Twelfth Grade. It means a lot more than just graduating out of high school, since as many of you know, I aim at joining the most prestigious chain of colleges across India, called the IITs, for which it is mandatory that I crack a very challenging exam next april.

So, here are a few 'Lifestyle changes' that I've brought in since the beginning of our new term.
First, I have made it a point to study for an average of Five hours everyday.
Second, in order to ensure my first resolution, I've decided to put a stop to what I'm most into: Gadgets. I guess it's tough, but I shall join a few quizzes now and then to keep myself somewhat updated.

Talking about what has happened in the past two months, they have been most eventful.
First thing was the much hyped reshuffling test that came like a tempest and washed over all my dreams, putting me into a lesser priority batch. (I'll explain the system sometime later. Remind me.) This low priority roughly means lesser chance of being able to crack the JEE next year. Fortunately, I've got teachers this time, expecially for chemistry, who make me feel confident and back me up at those times when I drop down.

Now, talking about SAT. I prepared for nearly one whole month for SAT, and could not write it. Thanks to the the indian passport authorities. I had applied for a passport renewal before even applying for SAT, but did not receive the booklet in time. I missed the exam, and I doubt I can get the refund. Anyway, I'd write it again this October.

Regarding other news, my dad's BlackBerry is alright now, and the bluetooth is perfectly working. Also, I have got a new instrument :) Sony Ericsson G502

The new phone is quite impressive in terms of the features, which include the basic ones like mp3/mpeg player, FM Radio, 2MPCamera and also a few cool features that I've been wanting, like GPRS, Photo Editor in phone, and 3G. The 3G technology is useless at the moment since it has not much picked up in India yet, but soon it should come down to fit in a common man's pocket.

My guitar lessons are coming around well and I can now play a few complete songs such as Airbag, Jigsaw Falling into place-Radiohead and Boulevard of Broken Dreams-Green Day. No lead guitar yet.

Otherwise, one thing that has constantly been dynamic in terms of progression is my music-listening. I do not want to talk much of it. I'm just putting up pictures of Albums.

Alright then, that's all for now. A dark year awaits me, to explore bravely and successfully complete it, where the end awaits an arena where all friends turn foes.

Templar AKA Sumanth

P.S. I've joined twitter. My page is: do check out.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

No Cool for a while

Hello friends, 

It isn't going to be cool for a while in many ways. 

To start with, the six hour long tests are closing in, and I have devoted most of my time to preparing for it, as it is a mock test for the major examination I am aiming to crack sametime next year. I have halted most of my other activities, except for browsing the net and connecting with some of my friends. 
Otherwise, regarding the things I recently did, I had been reading 'The Last Theorem' co-authored by Aurthur C. Clarke, and been listening to Kid A, and No Line on the Horizon. I also heard about 'Know Your Enemies' releasing sometime this week. I'll try it out soon. I also read somewhere that Twitter will soon be acquired by it? Interesting.

Also, the weather here at my place is quite aweful and I need to use the air conditioner more than I do usually during summers. The worst part is that there is a scheduled power cut every morning between 7 and 9, which is the time I usually start studying and get frustrated of being covered with sweat all over. It isn't cool here, not even warm, PIPING HOT!
But occassionally, no, rarely, a cool breeze blows by, or a drizzle in the evening, which results in further power cut...well, it isn't great time here during summer. 

I also wish all the best to all of you who have got their exams closing in, since I believe they are as crucial as mine are to me.

More later, I need to go and finish a couple of revision assignments...I shall talk about tech later when I am relatively less busy.

Until then,

Templar AKA Sumanth

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Review Blog: Trust is the key

Hello friends,

My short span of holidays have ended with a grand 'Euphoria '09', which is our college cultural event. The day had been great every hour being eventful. We received our Practice Material for the 'preparation phase for the reshuffling test.' Reshuffling test can be aptly compared to a compulsive enrollment into the popular reality show 'Fear Factor' (probably that was a little too much).
The test is up in the first week of may and I need to show what I really am, since the past year had been bleak for me. This test would shuffle us into batches based on performance cut-offs and we'd be in those sections/classrooms till sametime next year!
Looking into that short span of holidays, I read a large part of Atlas Shrugged, after which I got a little heavy headed with the work. Hence, I put the book down and picked up some light-reading material. No prizes for guessing.  Ptolemy's Gate.


Book: Ptolemy's Gate
Author: Jonathon Stroud
Genre: Fantasy/Young Fiction

At the outset, this book contains a story weaved using a number of elements. The highlighted ones are politics, history and ambition. As a matter of fact, the broken journey through Atlas Shrugged helped me understand this story better than I would have, have me reading in between lines, words, grasping the true emotions, qualities and other abstract features portrayed in Ptolemy's Gate. 

To start with, Ptolemy's Gate is an apt title for the book, since it completely revolves aroung this 'gate' that connects two different worlds. (I could relate to the earlier versions of The Silent Paradise by Klaus :P ) Ptolemeus was one of the old master's of Bartimaeus, one which Bartimaues had honoured for ever.

The story starts three years after Golem's Eye. Nathaniel (or officially, John Mandrake) is promoted as the Information Minister. The actual beginning is a historical note where Bartimaeus helps his master Ptolemy in escaping death when four assassins attack him one night, sometime in 125 BC. 
The first chapter is a perfect irony, where the strength of Bartimaeus reaches an all time low, where he is trapped under the rubbles of a public lavatory. He has been kept on earth for about two years under the service of John Mandrake, since the master has his own fears of letting his djinni out of grip. London fights a war against the Americans, and don't seem to gain an upper hand at all. This puts John (Nathaniel from now on, please) in difficult political situations. To add to it, the Prime Minister is crazy and holds a party almost every fortnight, and also invites all the council members for all those boring plays by his playwright Quentin Makepeace. The situation between Nathaniel and his demon (one of them, which is Bartimaeus) is tensed.
All the while, Kitty, who is presumed dead by the government is under a hideout and works for a local Inn at London in the name of Clara, and also ends up as an assistant-cum-apprentice for a magician, as Lizzie. During these years, with the help of magicians, she has learnt a great deal about the djinn and other demons(sorry...spirits) and also strives to know about the history of Bartimaeus. She also learns more about The Other Place, and what Bartimaeus has to do with it. 
So the story progresses into where the djinn plan a strike-back against all the earthlings, particualarly Magicians, for enslaving them for thousands of years. It is then, when all the three protagonists come together, and make a difference in their lives, and those of others.

My Rating:

Story 5/5
Jonathon Stroud presents you an excellent story that has a thick plot, which is completely linked to the previous volumes of the series. He also answers several questions from the prequels of Ptolemy's Gate without boring the reader, or deviating from the actual plot. And what more...there is Bartimaeus with his wonderful footnotes, and historic descriptions which give a proper finish to the book.

Characters: 4.5/5
This is the best book in the trilogy as it gives a wonderful ending to the series. Nathaniel and Kitty work on their ambitions throughout the book, and Bartimaeus keeps us entertained with his groans and cribs on how weak he is getting every second.  For the protagonists, good enough. But for the negative part...Makepeace didn't do a very good job, though the characterization of Hopkins as a the most forgetful appearance was innovative. Something that I have come across in no novel. 

Concept: 5/5
Series as a whole, Bartimaeus Trilogy holds good to its name. The whole plot involves Bartimaeus in many ways, apart from the mere fact that the main character summons him every book. The whole concept of Ptolemy's Gate (not the book, the element) is wonderful and original. Besides, equalling this marvellous creation is the idea of djinn entering human bodies and working...all I can say is...FREAKING RAD!!!

Description: 4.5/5
Description has got a very new dimension in this book. The way Jonathon describes The Other Place, well that's amazing indeed. I've not seen any such thing even in the Inheritance Cycle, a series that I had fancied for a while, sometime back. In a nutshell, the author has successfully described the nothingness of a place. Often, description of a place gets bigger as the place is more ornate with different elements, but this one is bland. It's just like the quantum theory in a more comprehensive way. The bland parts were when Nathaniel goes with Barty to the park of some sort....I had to read those narrations more than once to get a clear picture.

Sense: 5/5
Sense, you mean sense? Of course, it's completely sensible. Nothing is out of the box, except for the author's thought process. The story is also constructed to a large extent on human tendencies, and characteristics, which gives a very nice shape on the whole.

End Note:

This is the only book I've completed in my short vacation, and I'm proud of having read it. The story portrays one particualar moral very beautifully: Trust. Trust is what works around in this world. How do you accept that prescription your doctor gives you...? Now, you don't go around looking for his qualification, whether he passed his medical exams by fair means, or cheated...we just TRUST him, and it does work. This is what the author has conveyed, that the humanity is constructed, connected, and now fuctions only on trust, faith and acceptance, qualities one should never abandon, lest he shall never live a good life.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dew Point

Hello friends,

My final examinations are finally over, and I'm quite glad it has. My chemistry has got blown out, but I'm expecting a decent score in the others.

By the title, I'm not referring to the physics books by any chance. In the past one year, I've listened to music by about 40 bands, ranging across different genres. Inspired, I set out to make music.
Last year, I had featured an online music sequencing software called 'Musicshake.' It is the one I've used to make a few songs. I've also compiled all of them to make a playlist 'Dew Point.' It's not an album, as the whole playlist does not stick to one single concept.
The whole process was interesting, and has allowed me to explore different aspects of music. The software has a very easy to use interface unlike other music sequencers. Klaus had once stated "Making music isn't a walk in the park," it sure isn't, but it's fun all the same!

I'm embedding the playlist into this blog, but before that, let me tell you a little about each song.

The Chase: This was the first song I had made using the software. The concept of the song is a car chase, set in a little gloomy background. I had used different effects to get it out right.

Evry1: It stands for Everyone, as most of you would know, in the Texting-Language. This song is a typically Linkin Park inspired song with distorted guitars and growling rap. My first song of hard rock/nu metal genre.

I Know: I Know is an alternate rock song with rap and vocals, with an electronic-drum beat. Also contains a scratch track in the closing bars of the song. Personally, it's my favourite.

My Way: I composed My Way as a song to have many acoustic tunes together, but I ended up making a soft ballad-like song. Do comment on this, particularly.

In My Life: In My Life is a song composed keeping thrash metal in mind, a song inspired by Linkin Park's Breaking the Habit, and Metallica's Battery(though riffs aren't as great).

In:Ma:Lyf Rmx: This is a sort of Remix-ed version of In My Life, with dark bass line in the beginning, opening into rap, and then a metal/alt. rock.

Do listen to all the song, and comment. And one more thing, I haven't written the lyrics, but just have selected the vocal and rap pieces, and secuenced them. The only things I've done are the chords part, and programming the drum beats. Well, I'm using complex terms, but once you people check out the actual software, you'd realize how absurdly simple all these things are actually are.


Alright then, off I go and write a little bit of The Templar of Light. I'll post an excerpt out of it soon.

Till then,
Keep Singing,
Templar AKA Sumanth

Friday, March 13, 2009

Good News - Bad News

Hello all,
Yes, I can assure that the heading justifies the content of this blog, with good and bad news that I've come across recently. My pre-boards are over, and I got a mediocre 85%, yeah...sucked at chemistry as ever.
The All India Test Series that I had taken, has fetched a decent result. I've got a 70 percentile, among all the IIT aspirants in India...which gives me something bright to look at.
My board-examinations have started, and we've done so far with our languages, and math. Science left. I'm looking forward for these days to get over fast so I can start with the things I've planned this vacation they are:
1. Study for the 'grand' reshuffling test ( sorry, but that's inevitable!)
2. Proceed on with another major part of my story
3. Music(yeah, I'm waiting to get hold of many new albums and songs, as suggested by Klaus.)
4.Guitar Lessons- I'm planning to start learning solos now that I'm fairly able to switch between the chord progressions..

Alright, now to the main part, I've got a few good and bad things to talk about. 
First, my dad recently got a new Blackberry  Pearl 8110, and it is simply freaking! The very interface is convinient to use, along with the softwares and other applications which indeed are the reason for Blackberry's greatness. The music quality is also impressive, very comparable to an iPod Shuffle, the camera is a nice 2MP with flash. Originally, there was only one game, which is a brick 'n' ball game, but other games are available on the net, and I'm waiting to download and check how they work, though I don't really fancy much of games, especially on handhelds that are meant for some other purpose.

Now for the bad part of the good news (that's little funny...yeah, sometimes I do end up being pesimistic): The bluetooth feature of the Blackberry is absolutely troublesome. I tried pairing with my mom's phone (and somewhat mine), which is a Samsung E250, and there were no leads, all I could do was transfer the address book, or send things. But the actual purpose I paired them for, which was transferring other multimedia files from the Sammy to the Blackberry, failed. Yeah, I'm trying to find out what the problem is. Anyway, it did work with my cousin's Nokia Express Music. Let's see.

Other bad news are actually news for me, which are bad. I mean, two new things that came out recently, and gave me a bad impression. First, is Amazon Kindle 2, and the all-new iPod Shuffle.

I've not yet seen any sense in buying oneself a console, separately for reading eBooks. Actually, I'm not for any gadget that has only a single functionality; one only ends up having multiple gadgets at a time, and the word 'portable' goes irrelevant there. Amazon Kindle was a so-so piece of science, but Kindle 2 astounded me more. And I thought only apple did such foolish things. Yeah, they indeed resorted to stupidities in Kindle 2 such as sealing the device, so memory cannot be extended. Moreover, the device does not support .pdf or other files that are generated by popular word processors. WTF?

Second thing I wanted to talk about is, as I mentioned, the new iPod shuffle that came out very recently. It has no buttons on the device. The piece costs a $80 and gives you a decent memory of 4GB. I also heard, that the buttons are fixed to the earphones, and thus sealing the accessory-part. Now even if the earbuds of ur new piece gets spoilt, and you gotta' shell out flat $30 for new ones! That's indeed atrocious, but no surprise from apple :P. Apple has also drastically shrunk the size of Shuffle to the size of a U-clip, which can easily slip out of your pocket and fall on the cushions! The clip provided is made of stainless steel, so a firm grip can be expected. The new shuffle also comes with voice menu that will read out the title of each song as you browse through the list. Yeah, no screen in this one, which is one big similarity to the old shuffle. Ergonomically, the new Shuffle seems to be much more uncomfortable, as you would have to raise your hand to your ears each time you want to jump a song, or pause, or play...which is...aweful indeed!

Anyway, these are just my opinions. Agree? Differ? Sumanth's all ears!


So off I go, I gotta' take my lunch, and gear up for the preparation of my next exam, which is Physics. Yes, it's easy, but Sumanth, the Templar does not believe in taking many risks.

Templar AKA Sumanth

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Not much really to blog on...

Hello all,

I've been busy with many things, thus there isn't much regarding tech to talk about this time. So, let me talk about myself, it's been really a while...hang on....this is probably the first time I'm writing a blog completely on my updates.

*Ramblings on my life, can be called updates*

To start with, we had written an All India Integrated Test Series Open Test in the IITJEE pattern on the 8th of February. I'm expecting a kind of low score, but I heard the test is low scoring, since most of the high performers from my colleges aren't expecting much too!
Besides, this test had fallen between our pre-final examinations. Since our final exams happen to be board exams this year, I need to take this seriously, and not let it come in between me and my goals in life. 

The pre-final exams are over now, and I've done fairly good in except my second language(which is sanskrit) and Chemistry. Sanskrit, well, the marks fell out just like drops of water drip out of a closed far as Chemistry is concerned, I've always been bad at that. IMO, it's much different the other two subjects that I study: Physics and Maths. Now in Physics, everything is so obvious, you can solve half the problems using your common sense alone. You do not have to memorize, that if you drop an object, it falls. Maths, similarly is obvious too, rather, we are more mechanical in approach, and hence it comes to me without much of an effort. But Chemistry, is very different from these, where there is hardly any trend or generalization in the facts, and if there is one, it's dominated by exceptions, which make it choice less for people like me to turn to the only option, which is memorizing facts. This one has also troubled me quite in my other competitive exams.

I've done really well in English, where I've scored an 89%, which is second in our college (apparently, will confirm soon). Somehow, I enjoy taking this exam more than any other. After talking about this to my friends, I wondered if Science is where people like me should have been, probably Arts would have been better. The debate goes on...

Talking about books, I've bought three new books last month. One of them is Ptolemy's Gate, the sequel to Amulet of Samarkand and The Golem's Eye. The other one is The Godfather by Mario Puzo. This one was recommended by one of my friends at college. The third is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, of which I was told by Klaus. I started with Atlas Shrugged last month, but it's halted thanks to the Pre-final and the upcoming Board examinations.

On Music, I've been lately listening to Radiohead's OK Computer and In Rainbows (as suggested by Klaus and Reetesh), and Led Zeppelin's works. Radiohead is getting to me. At present, my faves from the band are Paranoid Android, Karma Police, 15 Step and All I need.
Apart from these, I a few weeks back, I was smitten by the OST of a movie called DevD. The music is an excellent piece of art with out of the box melody and lyrics. I would suggest this to anyone who is looking for a change. I was also looking forward to watching the movie, but darn! It's rated strictly 18+ (or R-rated, you can say) for its strong language and sexuality.

My guitar classes have halted for past fortnight in order to study for these exams. Otherwise, I make it a point to practice once a day, right now I'm trying to learn Paranoid Android's acoustic riffs played by Thom Yorke, and the intro riffs of Blackdog by Led Zeppelin...

I've also been thinking of the story I've been writing for a while. A few of my friends know about this, though not much. To give away a little, the name of the story as of now is 'The Templar of Light'(yeah, that's what has been my pen-name too), which evolved from a number of names like 'Splits', to 'Shards' to 'The Book' to an idea of series called 'Peril-Quartz' and then, finally the present one. Moreover, I don't promise this is what it will be called. The story has also evolved through a long period of time which is four years, a time when I and Klaus used to compete on writing, back in school. Eventually we grew up, and realized that competition is irrelevant in art. I've now written about one-third of the story, only to discover that I've grown over it. Anyway, I'll improvise it this summer, with some thickening in the plot (nothing drastic), and more learning to do.

I just realized, very recently, one fact, which everyone does: I've changed. When I look back the times when I was at school, ripples of laughter shake me looking at how immature I was, how stupidly I had done things...some of them, I'm thankful to have done them, and have enjoyed my past properly, and some, I still regret.

Alright now, chucking nostalgia, up ahead, I have my Board Examinations coming up after which our college is conducting cultural event 'Kal'rav 2009' so we students might unwind ourselves. Further, we have reshuffling tests for which I'd have to slog the heck out and stand at a decent position. It's a very costly bet I have put after my series of academic turbulence this year.

'So'..ahem.....looking at all these reasons, I'm pretty much busy, and may not blog all too often! But all of you do stay in touch.

Till I visit again, 
Templar AKA Sumanth

Monday, January 26, 2009

What happens after Blu-Ray

Hello pals, and...hmm..(can't figure out the female about palette?),

We all the know about the blu-ray disc that's out now with its astounding storage capactity(n price :P) But this isn't all. There are still a few things round the corner that are expected to get bigger than your HDD(the present ones). Of course, I can't guarranty you about their prices, but these storage devices are making it large!

I've been around Wikipedia for a while looking for the future of these 'disc-storage' devices. And here's what I've found.
I'm not writing the whole thing here, but an oveview sort of, mostly from wikipedia. You can go to the link I give at the bottom.


The Holographic Versatile Disc (HVD) is an optical disc technology that may one day hold up to 3.9 terabytes (TB) of information, although the current maximum is 250GB. It employs a technique known as collinear holography, whereby two lasers, one red and one green, are collimated in a single beam. The green laser reads data encoded as laser interference fringes from a holographic layer near the top of the disc while the red laser is used as the reference beam and to read servo information from a regular CD-style aluminum layer near the bottom. Servo information is used to monitor the position of the read head over the disc, similar to the head, track, and sector information on a conventional hard disk drive. On a CD or DVD this servo information is interspersed amongst the data.

A dichroic mirror layer between the holographic data and the servo data reflects the green laser while letting the red laser pass through. This prevents interference from refraction of the green laser off the servo data pits and is an advance over past holographic storage media, which either experienced too much interference, or lacked the servo data entirely, making them incompatible with current CD and DVD drive technology. These discs have the capacity to hold up to 3.9 terabytes (TB) of information. The HVD also has a transfer rate of 1 Gbit/s (125 MB/s). Optware planned to release a 200 GB disc in early June 2006, and Maxell planned one for September 2006 with a capacity of 300 GB and transfer rate of 20 MB/s -- although HVD standards were approved and published on June 28, 2007, neither company has released an HVD as of January, 2009.

HVD is not the only technology in high-capacity, optical storage media. InPhase Technologies is developing a rival holographic format called Tapestry Media, which they claim will eventually store 1.6 TB with a data transfer rate of 120 MB/s, and several companies are developing TB-level discs based on 3D optical data storage technology. Such large optical storage capacities compete favorably with the Blu-ray Disc format. However, holographic drives are projected to initially cost around US$15,000, and a single disc around US$120–180, although prices are expected to fall steadily. The market for this format is not initially the common consumer, but enterprises with very large storage needs. 

Protein Coated Disc

Protein-Coated Disc (PCD) is a theoretical optical disc technology currently being developed by Professor Venkatesan Renugopalakrishnan, formerly of Harvard Medical School and Florida International University. PCD would greatly increase storage over Holographic Versatile Disc optical disc systems. It involves coating a normal DVD with a special light-sensitive protein made from a genetically altered microbe, which would in principle allow storage of up to 50 Terabytes on one disc. Working with the Japanese NEC Corporation, Renugopalakrishnan's team created a prototype device and estimated in July, 2006 that a USB disk would be commercialised in 12 months and a DVD in 18 to 24 months. However, no further information has been forthcoming since that time.
The technology uses the photosynthetic pigment bacteriorhodopsin created from bacteria.

So be careful, in a few years, your computer can catch some real virus!


Oh, well. It's high time I spoke about my 'Best of 2008'. It's almost a month since the new year has arrived, and already a number of events have occured, new lives entered the earth, some gone to the unknown worlds...

Well, here's my disclaimer: Not all that I shall speak about have released in 2008, but I've come across them in 2008.
Starting with...

Three Mistakes Of My Life-Chetan Bhagat
Brisingr-Christopher Paolini
Amulet of Samarkand-Jonathon Stroud
Bourne Identity-Robert Ludlum
Artemis Fowl-Eoin Colfer

Runner Up: Bourne Identity :)
Well, I wanted to read the books ever since I had since I had watched the movies. Robert Ludlum has done a real good job, keeping the reader at the edge as much as possible. Its tough to write even a chapter full of action, and one full trilogy of it is honestly good enough!

And the Best: Amulet of Samarkand..!!
This is the best book I've read this year, undoubtedly. I've written the review, and you can check it out in my Blog-Archive. I suppose I don't have to link you guys there.

Dark Night
Lake House
Quantum of Solace
Rock On(hindi)
Rab Ne...(Hindi)

Runner: Rock On
Rock On is a really freaking offbeat movie, the best last year in terms of the change I wished to watch in Hindi films for a while. Also the best offbeat movie after Taare Zameen Par. There've been quite a few offbeat movies, but none to this extent.

Winner: Dark Night
This is the best movie I've watched in years, in fact! One of the movies that moved me and made me think, and enjoy every frame. 

I've listened to many bands this year, mostly recommended by my friend, Klaus, and here are the nominees:
Viva La Vida-Coldplay
American Idiot-Green Day
Master of Puppets-Metallica
OK Computer-Radiohead

Runner: Master of Puppets. As you'd have seen, I have been praising Master of Puppets for quite some time in my past blogs, but in the last few days of 2008, my charts underwent a change :)

Winner: Viva La Vida. This was an album that my friend suggested a few days before the new year, and the one which completely changed my outlook towards music. I started like this kind of music, the alternate rock after this. I tried OK Computer soon after, but probably I hadn't listened enough to like it.
Well, my guitar lessons have taken a halt since my college timings have changed. I've bought three new books which I shall read after my present goals are reached. So review will come. As for my score, they were a big time lull, reaching 184 out of 450! Yeah, it's sad of course, but no student is stronger than one with no more marks to lose :P. I'm serious!

So let me carry on,
till my next blog,

Templar AKA Sumanth

Monday, January 19, 2009

Review Blog: The parchment inside my mouth caught fire!

Hello fellow bloggers and my dear friends (:P),

Time here is deteriorating for me. I'm getting highly distracted by music and internet. While on the other side, my dad has stopped speakin to me for almost a fortnight now, due to my bad scores...(Rank 170 on 450, yeah, it is hell bad!) I tried my best this test, but ain't expecting too much now...*sad*

Anyway, I had promised you people for the book review on Golem's Eye, and here it is. I'm not really in a great mood, so I'll make it short and sweet:)


Title: Golem's Eye, Book 2-The Bartimaeus Trilogy
Author: Jonathon Stroud
Genre: Fiction; Present-day Fantasy

The book is not much bigger than its prequel. Second volumes are generally big. The story starts with an action packed historical prologue where old King Gladstone invades the enemy territory of Prague(Czech). Our djinni Bartimaeus narrates the prologue, which ends as his master dies and he drifts back into The Other Place.
The main story starts about two years after the end of Amulet of Samarkand, and Nathaniel is now assistant to the head of Department of Internal Affairs in the Government. The head is now Julius Tallow, who succeeds Underwood. Unfortunately, Nathaniel gets caught up in the politics of the government, and different ways how people try to attack him and prove him inefficient due to his age(which is fourteen). At the beginning of the book, there is the rebel group, The Resistance, striving to overthrow the magicians' regime, and take over, on which Nathaniel is assigned to investigate. But no matter how hard he tries, there are no leads!
And then there is Kitty, the girl who once had attacked Bartimaeus while he was having the Amulet of Smarkand and also stole Nathaniel's scrying disc around that time. She is one of the members of the Resistance, and an important character.
Also, the great "man of the series" Bartimaeus is there, entrancing every reader of the book with his witty footnotes.

My Rating:

The story was particularly complex with its real good twists, and two different conspiracies which is handled tactfully by the writer, without messing up. But the end was a little too much of coincidence, where the Golem turns up exactly when the story has to end. I was surprised how late it ended, given most novels, like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Inheritance(Cycle) or any other novel, end about a hundred pages before the book does, giving a nice closure with many details. But this went on in a nice pace and ended up way too fast, with just about thirty pages to spare.

Characters were really well desigened, including the ones like Kitty and her fellow Resistance members. Most importantly, the writer has given a sense of justification for every character, which would make you support each of them, when you read their respective storylines. But a few were a little aloof, for instance, Duvall, the Night Police head, also the judge of the courtroom where Kitty first goes looking for justice.

The whole concept of this book is real good, and a must read for every fantasy liker. It gives a real serious plot, but presents it in a very funny, jovial and sattirical form. The things like Golem, the parchment, are completely original(to my knowledge) and coincide with no other creations, like other fantasy books. The Urgals in Inheritance somewhat resemble the Ogres in LOTR. Also Eldunari does, with Horcruxes...and so on.

Sense(5/5) *if possible, I'd give a 5+*
The whole story makes perfect sense. In fact, after reading this book, you'd looking for Greybacks and Search Spheres during your London visit(s)! All of this, and more, Bartimaeus makes a lot of things get great, like explaining why people tend to notice ghosts duing a time more close to midnight, and some fictitious secrets hidden bheing things like the Westminster Abbey, and some kind of Bridge in Prage, meant only for pedestrians.

End Note:

On the whole, this book is very entertaining, especially if you are bored of something. You'd enjoy it even if books have stopped appealing to you. Only one drawback I find is that, you just can't understand this novel in case you haven't read its prequel, Amulet of Samarkand. There are lot of values in this book, and if I'm not wrond, many old indian proverbs are demonstrated in t he book(may be thare just morals everywhere, and not any cultural work)
So do read it, and enjoy!

Templar AKA Sumanth

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

On Hacking and Passwords

Hello dudes and dudettes,

The past week wasn't really great, and I've got another big-time test coming up next week, so this might be one of the times I seldom come online. Here is a little blog about passwords and security. Well, I've collected much of this information from another source, a can google later and find that out!
Security companies and IT people constantly tells us that we should use complex and difficult passwords. This is bad advice, because you can actually make usable, easy to remember and highly secure passwords. In fact, usable passwords are often far better than complex ones.

So let's dive into the world of passwords, and look at what makes a password secure in practical terms.

How to hack a password

The work involved in hacking passwords is very simple. There are 5 proven ways to do so:
  • Asking: Amazingly the most common way to gain access to someone's password is simply to ask for it (often in relation with something else). People often tell their passwords to colleagues, friends and family. Having a complex password policy isn't going to change this.
  • Guessing: This is the second most common method to access a person's account. It turns out that most people choose a password that is easy to remember, and the easiest ones are those that are related to you as a person. Passwords like: your last name, your wife's name, the name of your cat, the date of birth, your favorite flower etc. are all pretty common. This problem can only be solved by choosing a password with no relation to you as a person.
  • Brute force attack: Very simple to do. A hacker simply attempts to sign-in using different passwords one at the time. If you password is "sun", he will attempt to sign-in using "aaa, aab, aac, aad ... sul, sum, sun (MATCH)". The only thing that stops a brute force attack is higher complexity and longer passwords (which is why IT people want you to use just that).
  • Common word attacks: A simple form of brute-force attacks, where the hacker attempt to sign-in using a list of common words. Instead of trying different combination of letters, the hacker tries different words e.g. "sum, summer, summit, sump, sun (MATCH)".
  • Dictionary attacks: Same concept as common word attacks - the only difference is that the hacker now uses the full dictionary of words (there are about 500,000 words in the English language).
When is a password secure?

You cannot protect against "asking" and "guessing", but you can protect yourself from the other forms of attacks. A hacker will usually create an automated script or a program that does the work for him. He isn't going to sit around manually trying 500,000 different words to see if one of them is your password.

The measure of security must then be "how many password requests can the automated program make - e.g. per second". The actual number varies, but most web applications would not be capable of handling more than 100 sign-in requests per second.

This means it takes the following time to hack a simple password like "sun":

Brute-force: 3 minutes
Common Word: 3 minutes
Dictionary: 1 hour 20 minutes

Note: "sun" has 17,576 possible character combinations. 3 letters using the lowercase alphabet = 26^3

This is of course a highly insecure password, but how much time is enough for a password to be secure?
  • a password that can be hacked in 1 minute is far too riksy
  • 10 minutes - still far too risky
  • 1 hour - still not good enough
  • 1 day - now we are getting somewhere. The probability that a person will have a program running just to hack your account for an entire day is very little. Still, it is plausible.
  • 1 month - this is something that only a dedicated attacker would do.
  • 1 year - now we are moving from practical risk to theoretical risk. If you are NASA or CIA then it is unacceptable. For the rest of us, well - you do not have that kind of enemies, nor is your company data that interesting.
  • 10 years - Now we are talking purely theoretical.
  • A lifetime: 100 years - this is really the limit for most people. Who cares about their password being hacked after they have died? Still it is nice to know that you use a password that is "secure for life"
But let's take a full swing at this. Let's look at "100 year - secure for life". It has good ring to it and it makes us feel safe. There is still the chance that the hacker gets lucky. That he accidently finds the right password after only 15 years instead of 100. It happens.

Let's step that up too and go for the full high-end security level. I want a password that takes 1,000 years to crack- let's call this "secure forever". That ought to be good enough, right?

Making Usable and Secure passwords

Now that we have covered the basics, let's look at some real examples, and see just how usable we can make a password, while still being "secure forever".

Note: The examples below are based on 100 password request per second. The result is the approach that is the most effective way to hack that specific password - either being by the use of brute-force, common words or dictionary attacks.

First let's look at the common 6 character password - using different methods:

In this example complexity clearly wins. Using a password with mixed case characters, numbers and symbols is far more secure than anything else. Using a simple word as your password is clearly useless.

Does that mean that the IT-departments and security companies is right? Nope, it just means that a 6 character password isn't going to work. None can remember a password like "J4fS<2",>

To make usable passwords we need to look at them differently. First of all what you need is to use words you can remember, something simple and something you can type fast.

Like these:

Using more than one simple word as your password increases you security substantially (from 3 minutes to 2 months). But, by simply using 3 words instead of two, you suddenly got an extremely secure password.

It takes:

1,163,859 years using a brute-force method
2,537 years using a common word attack
39,637,240 years using a dictionary attack

It is 10 times more secure to use "this is fun" as your password, than "J4fS<2".

If you want to be insanely secure; simply choose uncommon words as your password - like:

A usable and secure password is then not a complex one. It is one that you can remember - a simple password using 3+ words.

It is not just about passwords

One thing is to choose a secure and usable password. Another thing is to prevent the hacker from hacking password in the first place.  This is a very simple thing to do.

All you need to do is to prevent automatic hacking scripts from working effectively. What you need to do is this:

Add a time-delay between sign-in attempts. Instead of allowing people to sign-in again and again and again. Add a 5 second delay between each attempt. It is short enough to not be noticeable (it takes longer than 5 seconds to realize that you have tried a wrong password, and to type in a new one). And, it forces the hacker to only be able make sign-in requests 1 every 5 seconds (instead of 100 times per second).
Add a penalty period if a person has typed a wrong password more than - say - 10 times - of something like 1 hour. Again, this seriously disrupts the hacking script from working effectively.
A hacker can hack the password "alpine fun" in only 2 months if he is able to attack your server 100 times per second. But, with the penalty period and the 5 second delay, the same password can suddenly sustain an attack for 1,889 years.

Remember this the next time you are making web applications or discussing password policies. Passwords can be made both highly secure and user-friendly.

Alright then, It's time for me to go.
Keep your comments pouting in.

Templar AKA Sumanth

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hot New Technology that will change Everything!

Hello dudes and dudettes,

First and foremost, I wish all of you a very Happy New Year, since this my First-blog-of-the-year!
Thinks are okay here, nothing much deserves to be spoken about. 
During my journeys across the web, there's lot much I've found, and here are of them. As the heading implies, these would be some of the greatest breakthroughs in the computing experiences. They're just round the corner...*coming soon*...

Memristor: A Groundbreaking New Circuit

Since the dawn of electronics, we've had only three types of circuit components--resistors, inductors, and capacitors. But in 1971, UC Berkeley researcher Leon Chua theorized the possibility of a fourth type of component, one that would be able to measure the flow of electric current: the memristor. Now, just 37 years later, Hewlett-Packard has built one.

What is it? As its name implies, the memristor can "remember" how much current has passed through it. And by alternating the amount of current that passes through it, a memristor can also become a one-element circuit component with unique properties. Most notably, it can save its electronic state even when the current is turned off, making it a great candidate to replace today's flash memory.

Memristors will theoretically be cheaper and far faster than flash memory, and allow far greater memory densities. They could also replace RAM chips as we know them, so that, after you turn off your computer, it will remember exactly what it was doing when you turn it back on, and return to work instantly. This lowering of cost and consolidating of components may lead to affordable, solid-state computers that fit in your pocket and run many times faster than today's PCs.

Someday the memristor could spawn a whole new type of computer, thanks to its ability to remember a range of electrical states rather than the simplistic "on" and "off" states that today's digital processors recognize. By working with a dynamic range of data states in an analog mode, memristor-based computers could be capable of far more complex tasks than just shuttling ones and zeroes around.

When is it coming? Researchers say that no real barrier prevents implementing the memristor in circuitry immediately. But it's up to the business side to push products through to commercial reality. Memristors made to replace flash memory (at a lower cost and lower power consumption) will likely appear first; HP's goal is to offer them by 2012. Beyond that, memristors will likely replace both DRAM and hard disks in the 2014-to-2016 time frame. As for memristor-based analog computers, that step may take 20-plus years. 

32-Core CPUs From Intel and AMD

8-core Intel and AMD CPUs are about to make their way onto desktop PCs everywhere. Next stop: 16 cores. Courtesy of Intel

If your CPU has only a single core, it's officially a dinosaur. In fact, quad-core computing is now commonplace; you can even get laptop computers with four cores today. But we're really just at the beginning of the core wars: Leadership in the CPU market will soon be decided by who has the most cores, not who has the fastest clock speed.

What is it? With the gigahertz race largely abandoned, both AMD and Intel are trying to pack more cores onto a die in order to continue to improve processing power and aid with multitasking operations. Miniaturizing chips further will be key to fitting these cores and other components into a limited space. Intel will roll out 32-nanometer processors (down from today's 45nm chips) in 2009.

When is it coming? Intel has been very good about sticking to its road map. A six-core CPU based on the Itanium design should be out imminently, when Intel then shifts focus to a brand-new architecture called Nehalem, to be marketed as Core i7. Core i7 will feature up to eight cores, with eight-core systems available in 2009 or 2010. (And an eight-core AMD project called Montreal is reportedly on tap for 2009.)

After that, the timeline gets fuzzy. Intel reportedly canceled a 32-core project called Keifer, slated for 2010, possibly because of its complexity (the company won't confirm this, though). That many cores requires a new way of dealing with memory; apparently you can't have 32 brains pulling out of one central pool of RAM. But we still expect cores to proliferate when the kinks are ironed out: 16 cores by 2011 or 2012 is plausible (when transistors are predicted to drop again in size to 22nm), with 32 cores by 2013 or 2014 easily within reach. Intel says "hundreds" of cores may come even farther down the line. 

USB 3.0 Speeds Up Performance on External Devices

The USB connector has been one of the greatest success stories in the history of computing, with more than 2 billion USB-connected devices sold to date. But in an age of terabyte hard drives, the once-cool throughput of 480 megabits per second that a USB 2.0 device can realistically provide just doesn't cut it any longer.

What is it? USB 3.0 (aka "SuperSpeed USB") promises to increase performance by a factor of 10, pushing the theoretical maximum throughput of the connector all the way up to 4.8 gigabits per second, or processing roughly the equivalent of an entire CD-R disc every second. USB 3.0 devices will use a slightly different connector, but USB 3.0 ports are expected to be backward-compatible with current USB plugs, and vice versa. USB 3.0 should also greatly enhance the power efficiency of USB devices, while increasing the juice (nearly one full amp, up from 0.1 amps) available to them. That means faster charging times for your iPod--and probably even more bizarre USB-connected gear like the toy rocket launchers and beverage coolers that have been festooning people's desks.

When is it coming? The USB 3.0 spec is nearly finished, with consumer gear now predicted to come in 2010. Meanwhile, a host of competing high-speed plugs--DisplayPort, eSATA, and HDMI--will soon become commonplace on PCs, driven largely by the onset of high-def video. Even FireWire is looking at an imminent upgrade of up to 3.2 gbps performance. The port proliferation may make for a baffling landscape on the back of a new PC, but you will at least have plenty of high-performance options for hooking up peripherals. 

Google's Desktop OS

The independently created gOS Linux is built around Google Web apps. Is this a model for a future Google PC OS?

In case you haven't noticed, Google now has its well-funded mitts on just about every aspect of computing. From Web browsers to cell phones, soon you'll be able to spend all day in the Googleverse and never have to leave. Will Google make the jump to building its own PC operating system next?

What is it? It's everything, or so it seems. Google Checkout provides an alternative to PayPal. Street View is well on its way to taking a picture of every house on every street in the United States. And the fun is just starting: Google's early-beta Chrome browser earned a 1 percent market share in the first 24 hours of its existence. Android, Google's cell phone operating system, is hitting handsets as you read this, becoming the first credible challenger to the iPhone among sophisticated customers.

When is it coming? Though Google seems to have covered everything, many observers believe that logically it will next attempt to attack one very big part of the software market: the operating system.

The Chrome browser is the first toe Google has dipped into these waters. While a browser is how users interact with most of Google's products, making the underlying operating system somewhat irrelevant, Chrome nevertheless needs an OS to operate.

To make Microsoft irrelevant, though, Google would have to work its way through a minefield of device drivers, and even then the result wouldn't be a good solution for people who have specialized application needs, particularly most business users. But a simple Google OS--perhaps one that's basically a customized Linux distribution--combined with cheap hardware could be something that changes the PC landscape in ways that smaller players who have toyed with open-source OSs so far haven't been quite able to do.

Check back in 2011, and take a look at the not-affiliated-with-Google gOS, thinkgos in the meantime. 

And now, looking back....really back, far behind...

25 Years of our Predictions:

Our Greatest Hits

Predicting the future isn't easy. Sometimes PC World has been right on the money. At other times, we've missed it by a mile. Here are three predictions we made that were eerily prescient--and three where we may have been a bit too optimistic.

1983 What we said: "The mouse will bask in the computer world limelight... Like the joystick before it, though, the mouse will fade someday into familiarity."

We hit that one out of the park. Mice are so commonplace that they're practically disposable.

1984 What we said: "Microsoft Windows should have a lasting effect on the entire personal computer industry."

"Lasting" was an understatement. Windows has now amassed for Microsoft total revenues in the tens of billions of dollars and is so ubiquitous and influential that it has been almost perpetually embroiled in one lawsuit or another, usually involving charges of monopoly or of trademark and patent infringements.

1988 What we said:"In the future you'll have this little box containing all your files and programs... It's very likely that eventually people will always carry their data with them."

For most people, that little box is now also their MP3 player or cell phone.

And Biggest Misses

1987 What we said: "When you walk into an office in 1998, the PC will sense your presence, switch itself on, and promptly deliver your overnight e-mail, sorted in order of importance."

When we arrive in our office, the computer ignores us, slowly delivers the overnight e-mail, and puts all the spam on top.

1994 What we said: "Within five years... batteries that last a year, like watch batteries today, will power [PDAs]."

Perhaps our biggest whiff of all time. Not only do these superbatteries not exist (nor are they even remotely in sight), but PDAs are pretty much dead too.

2000 What we said: We wrote about future "computers that pay attention to you, sensing where you are, what you're doing, and even what your vital signs are... Products incorporating this kind of technology...could hit the market within a year."

While many devices now feature location-sensing hardware, such a PC has yet to come to pass. And frankly, we'd be glad to be wrong about this one. 


That's it then!

I'm presently reading Golem's Eye, as I've mentioned in the reply-comment of my previous blog...and also listening to Viva La Vida, by Coldplay, which was a New Year's gift from my pal, Klaus. The guitar lessons are going on smoothly, only giving blisters on my fingertips...but its all in the game..!

Keep your comments pouring in, 

Till my next post,


Templar AKA Sumanth