Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Password protected Life.

We all require safety and protection from the big bad world outside. Today I am sitting at my desk well protected and with a sense of security but totally entangled in a web of random numbers and letters. Every moment of this existence, I am reminded that all good things in life come with a price tag and in this case I am almost paying with my mind. I consider myself fortunate that I can still use a key to enter my house (a remote key like the car is in my wish list though) and a keyless biometric provides access at work. I am thankful that keyless access to cars by punching access code did not go too far.
Password has been in existence since time immemorial. I am told that in earlier days sentries would only allow a person or group to pass through or allow access only if they knew the password. The dictionary meaning of the word “password” is a secret word or expression used by authorized persons to prove their right to access, information, etc.
Before we were required to make an effort and somewhat match the signature stored in their record (which was a difficult task by itself) to get our money from the banks. At times we had to explain across the counter how prettier she became over the years to justify some modification to our signature. It did work most of the time!
At the beginning I took it as a challenge to have difficult passwords which was difficult to guess and even more difficult to create. But soon I was inundated as a huge demand for passwords came my way as I needed a user name and password right from reading a online newspaper to accessing the internet banking. Friends came out with ideas: using favorite brand names; pets’ names; friend’s names etc and then spelling those names forwards or backwards or sideways or another possible direction. Slowly I realized that I was getting entangled into the maze of password. Everything I did required a password. If that was not bad enough they started to demand a new password periodically. While some providers only advised a change of passwords, the IT systems at work as well as banks are a bit ruthless. Passwords there come with an expiry date. I had this bright idea to have a set of 3 passwords and keep them rotating. But my plea was summarily dismissed and it refused to accept them fully or partially.
The security priority varies from site to site but we need to bear in mind that if someone is able to crack one he might be able to take a guess how your mind works and it might make cracking the rest. The pundits say that the most difficult passwords to crack are the ones created by a combination of Mixed-case Letters together with numbers (D5x0rJ00dZ, Ur2GooD4Me). It is also the most difficult ones to remember.
I dream of getting liberated from this password trap some day, but till that happen we need to remember that no password is un-crack able and the best we can do is make it difficult and non-trivial to determine our password. Also whatever method we choose, it's a good idea to change the password often.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Remake and remixes

A Taj Mahal Remix by me

I resisted myself from watching the remake of the film Don directed by Farhan Akhtar even though I like his films. In fact when I finally watched it on the cable I have to admit that I quite liked it even though in my opinion, it was not as good as the original one. But the matter of the fact is that I am not too comfortable with this concept of Remake. I do agree that many changes have been made to the original one to align it to the present times but the fundamentals as well as the concept remains unchanged.
I wonder how the people of the world, particularly the French, will react to the idea of remaking the Eiffel tower with some modifications and changes. Maybe we could suggest adding a few stainless steel members in between to get some polish and shine. Another remake I may suggest of my mind is the Statue of Liberty. Maybe we can replace the crown in her head with a baseball cap to give it a more realistic look and connect with days generation. After all in current time not many people wear a crown as compared to the baseball cap. Or closer home maybe we start replicating the Taj with a double glazed dome and Grey steel minarets.....
On the other side of the coin sits the remixes. Many songs that we grew up with and were very popular when originally composed are now being recomposed and released as remixes. Most of them got dance beats injected into them with some raps punched in between and not to forget the eye catching videos. Unfortunately many of the younger generation is not aware that there exists an original version and there exists an authentic & original creator, while the new version is just a replica. Now a days the remix version is created alongside the original composition with variable input from the composer. These should be called a variation rather than a remix. But generally there doesn't seem to be so much of apathy against remixes and everyone is happy to listen and dance to those tunes.
Do you really like imitation or accept that there are any sense in imitating? Doesn’t it virtually signify the end of creativity? As we walk through the shopping high street of any popular city which are frequented by tourists, we see scores of imitation products. Replicas of Lui Vuitton bags and Rolex watches or Gucci sunglasses are most common. Interesting enough we use another terminology for such products. They are called counterfeit instead of remixes. These are actually a form of remixes by their own rights. Usually they use cheaper materials where the color and texture are different and inferior to the genuine ones. At times we see that they pick the design of a model and use the material of another model. And in the interiors of the developing world people use these products even without realizing that they are actually the end result of hardwork and creativity of some designer and design house.
Hence I conclude that the matter of the fact is that someone has decided for us that remakes of movies are acceptable and remixes of old music are acceptable but a replica of a Rolex or a Gucci handbag is definitely illegal and a counterfeit.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Navigating the high street

A shopping trolley abandoned in the middle of the aisle in some super market is a common sight and we all have learnt to navigate our own cart around such obstacles. Abandoning one's shopping cart in the middle maybe still acceptable with a little bit of inconvenience to fellow shoppers but to find a pram with a child nicely parked in the middle of an aisle makes me nervous.
Certainly there is something mostly in the female genes (no offence intended) and in some males too, that causes the brain to freeze the very moment the eye spots an interesting package on the display shelve. All other logic stop working if there happens to be some red tag declaring a “Sale” or a yellow tape wrapped package stating "special offer" or “buy 1 & get 1 free” or maybe a yellow sticker with "free" written in red ink attached to any product on display. The world around does not exist anymore as the brain starts working on complex calculations towards establishing how much profit this offer is going to make to the weekly budget. The shopping cart is abandoned then and there with no consideration for fellow shoppers.
I had been all along trying to get some traffic sense into shopping cart driving of my better half and finally took charge of the steering bar. While she does the shopping I and our daughter who has recently graduated from her pram to the shopping cart take care of the maneuvering. Now I have come to realize that there is much more grief than to worry about an abandoned cart. One has to steer through groups of people socializing with no concerns for fellow shoppers. The good thing is that sometimes they move and give way when you give out an irate grunt (excuse me please)! The other menace are the learners as the proud parents lend the control of the cart to their 5 year olds who is already sporting a pair of skates (the normal shoes fitted with the wheels) which does not make things any better. They come and hit you from behind (believe me it hurts!) and you are not supposed to even yell at someone else's kids.
Now a days we are able to beat the traffic, both inside and outside the supermarket, as we do our weekly shopping during the middle of the working week. It is peace and tranquility for now till others decides to do the same.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My Wonder Years - I wonder what they do

Ora je ki kore - I wonder what they do!

Last few days I am noticing a new of excitement around me. We have been making frequent trips up to a hotel and they ("ora" as I say in Bengali) are talking to a manager uncle about banquet hall and balloons and food and what not. I have a feeling that they are so excited because I am about to reach my first milestone. Actually this happens to be the first anniversary of the best thing that happened in my life. I remember that day in Bhagirathi Neotiya hospital very clearly. It was the morning of 11th of July and that was day I have seen the first ray of light and felt the first gust of fresh air hit my face and blowing whatever little hair I had that time and most importantly got the first hug from my mother. After a little while one aunty dressed in white clothes took me out through the corridor. I saw many people waiting for me there but I was so sleepy that I could barely keep my eyes open. Somehow managed to open both my eyes for a moment and was greeted by thakuma, dida, dadu, pishi, kaka, baba and some uncles. Baba clicked a photo within that one moment and I thought "ora je ki kore" before I went back to sleep. I lived in that place with many small babies like me for about a week before they took me to my home. Our hospital room had a large glass window and every afternoon the curtains were pulled back and we used to see hundreds of people outside that window smiling and waving their hands at us. We waited for that moment all day.Today, those days seem to be from so long time ago, a time when I could practically do nothing by myself. Except off course those two basic things and for that kaka calls me H Kumari. Each day of this one year has been very exciting for me. I have spent every single day of my life looking for new adventures and facing new challenges. Ma was so excited the day I first turned around that she made a note of that in a nice note book that I am not allowed to play with. But after that many more exciting development happened. One day to my surprise I found out that I could control the movement of neck and head. I was so excited that I started to keep my head up as long as I was awake. Baba used to push my head down to the pillow but I liked to keep it up and in my control. Then slowly I could drag myself in the bed on my chest. They (baba & ma) use to say that I move like a snake but I did not care. I used to enjoy my new found mobility so much that I used to move around all over the bed whenever I wanted. The real big day came a few days before we when to Kolkata for my annoprashon. The A-day was a very special day and I had the opportunity to taste all the food that they always ate. I will leave that story for another day. I crawled on my four. That gave me so much of freedom that I cannot express in words. Within a week of coming back from Kolkata I could stand on my own legs and my happiness knew no bounds. I have been waiting for so long for that day. What a great sense of achievement! You will only realize it the day you can do it yourself. A few days after that baba started to take me to a huge swimming pool with him. First time I saw the pool I was surprised and thought ora amake abar kothay niye elo (now where did they bring me). The pool was so much bigger than my bathtub; it is even larger than the big bath tub that they use. To be honest with you I was very scared and irritated with them when they dipped me in that pool for the very first time and said to myself Rai, tui kader pallay porli re (Rai, what type of people have you land yourself with?). But today I love to be in the water and jump back into the water the moment I see Ma coming to take me. Now baba say "my little daughter is now a big girl" and I agree with him totally. I can walk and even run up and down. A few days before I completed 11 months I started to take a few steps at a time. I saw the recording of me walking and both my hands are turning like a spin bowler (Ma taunts "haath ghorale naru paabe noile naru paabe na"). The video looks so cute a nd I tell you that you have to watch it to believe it. Actually this is the only occasion when I did not say to myself “ora je ki kore"!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Three syndromes that caught my fancy

This is my second post on the English language but that does not mean that I am a pro in this language. But language like habit keeps growing on oneself over the period of time and we keep plucking and storing an odd phrase, word or a sentence. Following are three syndromes that are not so medical and did catch my fancy and would like to share with all who are interested.
Emperor's New Clothes syndrome: An emperor of a prosperous city who cares more about clothes than military pursuits or entertainment hires two swindlers who promise him the finest suit of clothes from the most beautiful cloth. This cloth, they tell him, is invisible to anyone who was either stupid or unfit for his position. The Emperor cannot see the (non-existent) cloth, but pretends that he can for fear of appearing stupid; his ministers do the same. When the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they dress him in mime. The Emperor then goes on a procession through the capital showing off his new "clothes". During the course of the procession, a small child cries out, "But he has nothing on!" The crowd realizes the child is telling the truth. The Emperor, however, holds his head high and continues the procession. The Emperor's New Clothes is now synonymous to the governmental head not reacting to public outcry about controversial state agreements and treaties.

Stockholm syndrome: The name refers to a psychological response sometimes seen in abducted hostages, in which the hostage shows signs of loyalty to the hostage-taker, regardless of the danger or risk in which they have been placed. The syndrome is named after the Norrmalmstorg robbery of Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg in Stockholm, in which the bank robbers held bank employees hostage from August 23 to August 28 in 1973. In this case, the victims became emotionally attached to their victimizers, and even defended their captors after they were freed from their six-day ordeal. The term "Stockholm Syndrome" was coined by the criminologist and psychiatrist Nils Bejerot, who assisted the police during the robbery, and referred to the syndrome in a news broadcast.

China syndrome: The name refers to the idea of the nuclear material burning a hole from the United States to 'the other side of the world', i.e., China. Despite several meltdowns in both civilian and military reactors, such an extreme meltdown has never taken place. China is a metaphor, as the opposite side of the globe from the USA is actually the Indian Ocean. In 1971, nuclear physicist Ralph Lapp used the term "China syndrome" to describe the burn-through of the reactor vessel, the penetration of the concrete below it, and the emergence of a mass of hot fuel into the soil below the reactor. He based his statements on the report of a task force of nuclear physicists headed by Dr. W.K. Ergen, published in 1967.The dangers of such a hypothetical accident were publicized by the 1979 film, The China Syndrome.
Please share with me if you have another of such interesting syndromes. It would be great to hear how you feel about this .

I have borrowed the image from the internet.