Friday Linkfest

Been a while since the Linkfest … well, I’ve been travelling and have been kinda busy. Here is the collection of links from what I’ve been reading this week.

Business

Scobleizer.com: Rober Scoble has been travelling in China this week and he’s amazed by the speed of development in there and the way business is conducted in that country. He posted about it earlier this week.

China makes, the world takes: The Atlantic’s excellent article on China.

Humour

I’m a Mac, I’m a PC

And I’m Linux, losers

Technology

Build your own Wall-E: This dude is awesome !

Yahoo officially introduces their new Open Strategy

The Best way to tether your iPhone to your laptop … for free – Unlike AT & T, which is going to charge $30/month for this basic facility. Boooo AT & T !!

The Drinks are on me !


This post is what, in web-jargon these days, is called a mind-dump.

As I sit in the office on a nice breezy (and slow) afternoon, wishing is all I can do and here are some of my favorite drinks that I’m wishing for …. right now !

Nothing extraordinary … out of  the box … but like they say – if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it !!

LIITE (Long Island Iced Tea)Djins @ Hyaat-Delhi, that’s where I first had LITE. The best part is that you need just one to get you into high spirits. One look at the ingredients and you’ll know why !

You need ½ a shot each  of Gin, White Rum, Tequila , Triple Sec & Vodka . Some Coke for the color & some lemon juice.

Shake all the ingredients except the coke with ice and strain into a highball. Then pour the coke on the top. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Rum Cola – Simple and effective.  Also known as ‘dhoka-cola’ , All fauji kids would vouch for this one. Most people like it with Bacardi or Old Monk but I prefer Capt Morgan’s. The spicy vanilla after taste is splendid.

You’ll need 1 shot Captain Morgan’s spiced rum, Coke. I also add ½ a lime.

In a tall glass pour in the rum & top the glass with ice. Add the coke & drop in some lime slices.

Center Shock – a good friend of mine once made this for me by accident. It’s something many people will not like, but I do.

You’ll need tender coconut in the shell, one shot of vodka and a straw.

Just make an opening in the coconut and remove about a sip or two from it. Fill in the vodka and keep it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Serve with a straw.

Mojito – It just looks so good that you have to have it !

You’ll need 1.5 oz White Rum, 10-12 fresh mint leaves,1/2 lime, 7 oz club soda & 3 tsp. sugar syrup.

Crush mint leaves and lightly squeeze lime in a cool tall glass. Pour sweet syrup to cover and fill glass with ice. Add the Rum, club soda, and stir. Garnish with a lime wedge and a few sprigs of mint.

And of course Draught Beer (to keep my husband happy) – You need a can of chilled beer. Just open and drink.

I just have one request, when ever you serve a drink, please do it in the right glass. And although my husband says ‘a drink tastes the same in any glass’, I firmly believe that without proper presentation… the drink loses its ATTITUDE ; )

Do you guys have a favorite drink … let me know the recipe in the comments and I promise I’ll try them :-)

5 Must Do’s while in Pune

1ne : MARZ – O – RIN

Self Service/ No Smoking/ Veg, Non-Veg – that’s what Marz-o-rin’s menu card reads. One of Pune’s most loved & known café, situated right on MG road opposite Buddhani wafers – Marz-o-rin is a must visit when in Pune.

Still maintaining the old world charm of the British, the cozy little balcony upstairs is ideal for a coffee and sandwich break. The place is a favorite with the oldies (the regulars, who come to discuss the hot topic of the day) as well as the teenage crowd out on a (low budget) date.

Famous for the Chicken Sandwiches and Milkshakes, they also serve – Burgers, Rolls, Bakes, Salads, cakes, pastries and a variety of beverages. It’s not like a regular CCD or Barista – the food is good, service is quick and the prices are still very affordable. For example, the chocolate shake at Marz-o-rin costs a mere Rs. 30 !

The beverage menu is widespread with fresh juices, hot coffee, chillers, milkshakes and falooda. The sandwiches, pizza and hot bakes are available in white and brown bread options. I had the chicken sandwich with creamy spicy mayo (best enjoyed grilled with extra mayo), chocolate milk shake (which was sweeter than what I usually have), followed by a brownie. Everything on the menu is for Rs. 30-50. Yes! Seriously. I recommend sitting on the 1st floor balcony, and spending time gazing at the passers-by on MG Road.

T2o: Burger King

Not the ‘multi-million-dollar-Burger-King’… this is Pune’s most famous Burger join … the undisputed champ of the biggest-heaviest-Juiciest- Burgers and all well within a price range of Rs. 30 to Rs. 75.

It’s a dream world for non-vegetarians with chicken burger, mutton roll, sausage surprise and the ever popular King Burger (the King Burger is a humongous steak burger). On the menu you’ll find Jumbo burgers which are of the size of a quarter-plate, dripping with mayonnaise, and I’ll bet you can’t finish one.

The place is always crowded, the service is slow, and there is no parking available near the Camp outlet… but no one seems to mind ! If you have time, little money and you are hungry… this is the cheapest and tastiest option available.

Th3ee: The German Bakery

To some the German Bakery is a ‘maybe’ in Pune, for others it’s a daily ritual, but certainly if you have been there once you’ll go there again. Frequented by travellers, Osho followers, college kids, artists, hippies, trouble-makers and everyone in between, TGB is more than just an old wooden shack in Koregaon Park.

On the menu is fresh carrot juice, cake slices, Banana Lassi, Cold coffee, Masala Chai, Fruit Cream, herb Bread and some healthy options too. The prices range from Rs. 20 to Rs 90.

Its all about great food and superb coffee, but most of all, a fabulous experience. Making friends with random people, just observing or daydreaming … it’s a place to do whatever you wanna do !

F4ur: Osho Chappals

Comfortable, Economical, Cool and Colourful, you just HAVE to pick up Osho’s while in Pune. Available in all sizes, for men & women, starting at Rs. 50/- , yup you read it right Rs. 50/-

The original osho chappals have a sole made of certain ‘chatai’ type material and has a thick velvety V shaped straps, the original color was the osho red. Now one can match every outfit with the colors available. I picked up the metallic gold & silver this time.

They don’t last very long, but you certainly won’t be wearing a 50 bucks chappal for a marathon !

Fi5e: Budani Wafers & Kayani Bakery

How can one talk about Pune and not about Chivda from Budani and the Shrewsbury buscuits from Kayani!!

They are a must buy. Budani Wafers at MG road is famous for the potato chivda (starts at Rs. 140 per kg) and cheese wafers.

And everyone knows about Pune’s most sought-after Shrewsbury biscuits from Kayani Bakery on East Street. The bakery has been a landmark since it was established by brothers Hormuz and Khodayar Irani in 1955. The Shrewsbury biscuit, which is Kayani’s flagship product, is possibly the most delicious biscuit you will ever eat. I also love there crisp wine biscuits.

The biscuits are often sold-out and both the joints have a siesta time from 2pm to 5 pm… so get in line as early as possible.

George Restaurant and Bar – Panaji, North Goa

George specializes in Goan cuisine and sea food … how do I know ? Well …

a) It says so on the banner

b) I’ve had the food and IT IS awesome

c) All the locals eat there. One can always be sure that the food is good if the restaurant is always packed and 75% of the people eating  are locals.

In the capital Panjim, you’ll find George Bar and Restaurant, right around the corner – going towards Panjim Church. On the first look, It’s an old and rickety looking joint, but they do have an a/c enclosure on the first floor – Called the family room :-)

Like all the other times we have visited Goa, this time also we had-to-have one meal at George. So a long 3 course  lunch it was and very economical too  – in Rs. 650 we were full to the brim.

Beer like the rest of Goa is at a reasonable 70-80 bucks for 650ml, for starters we had Prawn Masala (Rs 95). The prawns were coated in an amazingly spicy onion-tomato-chilli-garlic-bellpepper’ish-masala. For main-course we ordered Squid xacuti (Rs110), Pork Vindaloo (Rs80) and Fish-curry-rice (Rs100) … Ya ! I know its sounds like a lot and it was but we wanted to get a taste of everything – And we managed to finish everything :-) We ended our meal with a bowl of Caramel Custard (Rs40).

Goan cuisine is an interesting mix of varied influences, apart from the seafood – chicken, beef and pork are part of the goan food tradition. Some dishes that will be on all menus in a Goa restaurant are – xacuti, sopotel, vindaloo and cafreal.

Vinhalhos / Vindaloo – is ‘vinho’ for wine, ‘alhos’ for garlic (Portuguese), ‘viande’ – ‘aloo’ for meat (French) – potato  (Indian). A very spicy blend of tones of red chilies, garlic, vinegar, some fenni and palm jaggery. (Did you know that one of the ingredients of Pork Vindaloo is coconut fenni ? )

Cafreal is a goan dish of tribal origin. It was supposedly named after the African soldiers or Kaffirs who brought it to Goa centuries ago. In this dish the meat is marinated and deep-fried. The result is rather dry, but spicy dish. This is the equivalent of Portuguese-style grilled chicken and the sauce is made from the left over marinate.

Sorpotel is prepared from meat diced and cooked in a thick and very spicy sauce favored with red chilies, cinnamon, cloves bathed in tangy toddy vinegar. Sorpotel keeps for several days, and is actually considered to taste better the day after (something like our ma-ki-dal).

Xacuti (pronounced as sha-coo-ti), has its origins in Portuguese cooking. It has lots of earthy spices like nutmeg, coriander, turmeric, chilies, ginger and cloves. Additionally tamarind and lemon juice make for a pungent curry.

I also picked up some ready-to-cook-curry-packets in Goa. Crossing-my-fingers they turn out well !

Convert youtube videos online for free

I have a confession to make. I LOVE youtube.

So ? Whats so great about it, you ask ? Everyone loves youtube.

Well, yes and no. Everyone likes to spend time on youtube, watch a dozen videos everyday and then move on. I, on the other hand, actually like some of those videos enough that I like to take them with me and play them back on my iPhone/iPod video.

Unlike some other video sharing sites, though, youtube doesn’t offer an easy way to download videos for offline viewing.

There are a ways to download videos from youtube to your personal computer and then convert them to a format which the iPod can play back, but they’re all just inconvenient hacks. They work, but not if you’re in a hurry and are not really in the mood to play around with the countless options that tools like ffmpeg (which, by the way, is an excellent open source video converter) support.

This is where ConvertDirect comes in.

ConvertDirect is an easy to use and free online service for converting youtube videos to one of the many video formats it supports.

Just enter the link to the youtube video and chose the format you want your converted video to be in. Type in your email address and ConvertDirect will send you an email with a link to the converted video. The link will be live for 48 hours during which time you can download the video from their servers.

If you only want to use a desktop player like vlc to play back the videos offline, then click on the “Download the online video directly” tab and download the video to your computer.

Converting youtube videos for offline playback couldn’t have been simpler and more convenient than this.

Go ahead and download all those music videos great educational videos you’ve been waiting to watch and take them with you on the road.

Are there any other great online-to-offline software that you guys use ? Cool websites ? Let us know in the comments.

Will Open Source survive the economic crisis

Will it ?

Conventional logic would say, Yes ! I mean, Open Source is free, right ? Everyone should infact be only using Open Source in an economic crisis.

Well, Andrew Keen doesn’t think so and he’s on Slashdot right now for thinking the way he does. Now, Andrew is entitled his opinion and all that jazz, but, seriously, I think the article is a load of bull****.

The reason Andrew’s thought process doesn’t make sense to me is because he completely and conveniently has chosen to forget the very reason why Open Source even exists. Andrew thinks opensource is for making money and since money is scarce these days, it will not survive. And he’s confusing web 2.0 with opensource.

For the lazy ones, I’ll summarize, Andrew says that the tough economic times that we’re going through will spell the end of the “free” web 2.0 days. That we won’t be seeing any websites providing free services anymore. Fair and square.

He also goes on to say that Open Source is free labour and since it is free, it won’t survive the economic downturn either.

The hungry and cold unemployed masses aren’t going to continue giving away their intellectual labor on the Internet in the speculative hope that they might get some “back end” revenue. “Free” doesn’t fill anyone’s belly; it doesn’t warm anyone up.

Now, first of all … praise where its due. That’s a nice headline you’ve chose for this post Andrew. I mean, Copywriting-101 … Nail it with the headline. But, I don’t think you took the rest of the class, because the rest of your article is full of half baked assumptions that come through pretty clear.

OpenSource is not Web 2.0 and while Web 2.0 does use a lot of opensource at it’s core, they’re both different. Web 2.0 also doesn’t mean making a website and then giving away the services for free. Free services have always been a part of the web and will be.

Web 1.0 or whatever they called it back then was about the Internet finding it’s feat and Web 2.0 has been about cleaning up the house, making the designs plain and simple, making sure the visitor can find what they’re looking for and giving the visitor a reason to pay and come back again. Flickr, 37signals and smugmug are Web 2.0. Sure the 1.0 guys made mistakes, but then that was 1.0 – IT IS EXPECTED :-)

Now, coming to OpenSource. Andrew, my man, you really have to understand that people don’t contribute to OpenSource for the money. Sure, some people do. But, that’s not how opensource survives. It survives because it has a community. You know the kind, where like minded individuals come and discuss ideas and stuff. Well, in the 21st century, they code, apparently !

A lot of these opensource contributors actually like to code. Not, because they get money out of it, but because they like to … well … code. And make friends in the process. Now, friendship is a weird concept. Give stuff away for free and make friends doesn’t actually endorse the idea of OpenSource but then people who get the idea of OpenSource … just do. And that is the power of it. It doesn’t change the world but it goes a long way towards it.

Did I tell you that it is free ? Does it make sense now ?

The problem with your theory is that it goes beyond any logic I’ve heard about or can think about. Oh wait, there IS NO logic in your theory.

Hyper-V vs. ESXi – Response to techtarget’s article

So, I was reading this article which talks about the advantages of MS Hyper-V over VMware ESXi and I’m amazed at the FUD that Microsoft has been spreading. I don’t usually write about virtualization over at this blog, but this I just have to clear.

It is quite clear from the article that the author, Greg Shields, has no clue about ESXi (or Hyper-V, for that matter). Greg starts his post with the following sentence,

Hyper-V Server is a free, recently released download from Microsoft that brings free virtualization hosting to small environments, as well as to those that don’t want to pay the extra cost of ESXi.

What extra cost Greg, would you care to explain ?

ESXi is free and has been for a while now.

Oh and ESXi supports SCSI (FC/iSCSI) and NFS data-stores, which means that the virtual machines can reside on any of the above, and not only flat files on a vmfs formatted volume.

Greg talks about the advantages of Hyper-V over ESXi and claims the following,

One particular administrative boon of Hyper-V Manager over ESXi is its use of NTFS partitions for the storage of VMs as opposed to VMware’s proprietary VMFS. Hyper-V Server can support the hosting of virtual machines through virtually all forms of Direct-Attached Storage and Network-Attached Storage, in addition to traditional SAN storage via iSCSI, SAS, and Fibre Channel. Since Hyper-V Manager runs atop Server Core, whatever storage back-end you select must have client-side support for this special operating system version.

First of all, Like I’ve already said, ESXi supports all transports that Hyper-V does and secondly, I really don’t understand why storing VMs on an NTFS partition is an advantage compared to VMFS ? How does it even matter where the VMs are stored ?

In my opinion, just the fact that ESXi is 32MB in size vs. the over 1GB of Hyper-V should be reason enough for a consumer to try ESXi. 1GB of Microsoft written software … hmmm .. let me calculate how many vulnerabilties would there be in that !

Now, I’m a fair guy and I do agree that Hyper-V has its advantages. Like the fact that it is a Microsoft product. And that reason by itself will make it the default option for a large number of Microsoft shops. But, this article here … give me a break ! I know a trashy article when I see one. I’m all for comparisons as long as they’re fair.

Back From Vacation

This is a quick note to let all visitors know that I’m back from my vacation in Goa and just haven’t been able to update this blog since then. Work as usual has been taking most of my time but I intend to get back to updating this blog regularly as soon as I can find the time.

I’ve got loads of stuff to write about from the trip, the beaches I visited, the pubs I went to and the food I ate. Keep reading.

Off to Goa for the weekend

The long weekend that is. Tomorrow and Friday is a holiday in most places in India on account of the Festival of Dasara. Am off to the coastal state of Goa. Yummy seafood and cold beer is what awaits me.

I will not be posting at all while I’m gone. Expect an update with lots of pics from nice, sunny Goa when I’m back :-)

Gotta rush now … the beach is calling me.

Riding on the clouds – Panchgani

My first visit to Panchgani (and Mahabaleshwar) was also my first real ride on my new Motorcycle, the Royal Enfield Thunderbird. This was back in 2004 and I still remember the planning I put in for that. Of course, I was new to Pune and didn’t know anything about any highway around the city and this was my first trip out of the city. My planning was almost flawless.

Considering that Panchgani is just about 100 kms from Pune, the planning was overkill, but its better to be prepared than Sorry, right ?

A ride to Panchgani has almost become a thereupatic session for me now. I go to Panchgani whenever I want to escape the maddening city crowds (Although, it doesn’t really help when, on a long weekend, Panchgani is swamped with tourists from across the state) and the monotony of office life.

A trip to Panchgani/Mahabaleshwar during the monsoons is a plus. Fabulous views and awesome weather (if you like the rains). The small town covered with monsoon clouds looks absolutely stunning.

The Route

To save all you readers the planning, here is the gist of it. Panchgani is about 105 kms from Pune. Take the NH4 (Pune – Satara – Bangalore) highway out of Pune. Cross the katraj and khambatki ghats and about 85 kms from Pune you’ll see a small blink-and-you’ll-miss-it signboard directing you to a right turn on the highway towards Panchgani.

From here on the nice and broad national highway gives way to a small and winding state road which passes through a small town called Wai, before climbing up the Panchgani ghats. The road is well maintained all the way and you’ll be hard pressed to find a pot hole even in the worst of the monsoon season.

As an aside, considering the amount of rain this part of the country gets, I wonder how our municipal council leaders even have the cheek of blaming the monsoons whenever they’re questioned about the bad quality of the roads in our cities.

Places to Stay

Panchgani has lots of options to suit every budget. My wife and I usually stay at the Eco-camp whenever we visit and if we’re there during the rainy season, than Hotel Mountview it is.

Camping has never been more fun or convenient – Eco-camp provides the bare essentials of modern living and the thrill of camping. Our visits to this place have always been delightful. It has a couple of spacious tents neatly setup on a cliff, over looking the most spectacular view of the valley. They have family tents which accomodate 8 people and small two person tents also. The tents also have electric points good enough for plugging in the mosquito repellant or mobile chargers. The loos are cubical type, clean and with hot water available.

The best part about the place is the Barbeque area/ bonfire (wood and stuff was provided), so it’s a good idea to bring some marinated stuff. The tariff is about Rs.150 per head. (02168-241164 meg_andre@hotmail.com, ask for Megan).

Don’t miss the sunset, when you’re there.

Another great place to stay is Hotel Mountview. Words from a friend of ours “Hotel Mountview  -Khambatta’s Garage – the most awesome’est place to be at, in Panchgani …. Parsi out of this world food, a view to die for and much much more…Anyone whose been there can vouch for this :)”. Again its not very expensive & a lot of fun. I can assure you of good food, which is included in the tariff (about Rs 800/day).

Panchgani is known for the many british style boarding schools and the excellent strawberries, not in the same order, of couse :-)

Drive down a couple of kilometers from the town towards Mahabaleshwar and you can have a lovely Lunch at the Mapro farm. The cheese sandwiches, pizzas and strawberry creams are out of this world. Don’t forget to buy some fresh Jam and syrups for yourself.