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2011 May 28 [Saturday]

buying LIC Jeevan Dukh insurance policy from L&T Finance

L&T Finance, Bangalore, sells personalized financial solutions, like LIC's life insurance policies to retail customers and a very pushy marketing person managed to hound us since last year until we finally succumbed into buying a Jeevan Anand insurance policy. Little did we know that instead of 'Anand' (joy) it would be the beginning of a period of "Dukh" (sadness) -- after the INR 54,157/- cheque was encashed by them, the sales agent says there would be a medical test and their office would call us to schedule it. WTH?

Thereafter, S.I.L.E.N.C.E.

The silence lasted for two months as the sales agent at the Bangalore office would not take our calls nor did he call us back with details of when the medical test would be scheduled -- So why did the sales guy NOT mention an important detail like a "medical test" BEFORE taking the INR. 54,157/- cheque when he knew it was a senior citizen taking the policy, nor was this mentioned during the zillion phone calls when he wanted to sell the policy?

More S.I.L.E.N.C.E.

After some hassle, we got the Bangalore office number and it was our duty to keep calling them to find out the status of our policy. Finally, we heard that the sales agent had left their employment, talk to a manager --Err..what happened to the INR. 54,157/- cheque that L&T had encashed on 02-Feb-2011 --were they going to return the money to us or grant the Jeevan Anand policy? Nobody at the L&T Finance office in Bangalore knew who was handling the case, atleast that is what we were told upon repeatedly calling them, being shunted around to speak to different employees, and after many weeks of excuses and false assurances it took them only TWO months to schedule the first medical test.

Medical done, we still had no idea if they were actually going to issue a policy, or not. More silence followed and a week of calling them incessantly (the bane of mobile phones and people not picking your calls) were told that the medical test results would go to the L&T Hyderabad office which would make a decision. Upon more calls from us (the L&T Finance Bangalore employees just dont bother to inform us of the policy status) we were told that there would be another medical test....wait, did the Bangalore office realize this TWO months after the first medical test? That they would need to reschedule the second medical test and we were supposed to await a call (which would never come) informing us when to go for the test.

Days have passed, but there was no call, only S.I.L.E.N.C.E for company.

As usual, we called the local L&T Finance employee -- if they dont wish to schedule the second medical test and make a decision regarding the health eligibility, the least they could do was to return the money. Instead, we were given the excuse that it was the Hyderabad office making the decision and their local Bangalore office was just collecting documents and couriering it to Hyderabad for final decisions.

L&T Finance, if you dont intend to give the LIC Jeevan Anand policy, the least you can do is return the 54,157/- Rupees that you encashed FOUR months ago. Is this the way you treat senior citizens, by keeping their money in limbo, without interest for FOUR months while you take your own sweet time to make a decision? Is this is the "emphasis on systematic and planned investments" service L&T Finance provides? Why do the L&T Finance sales agent NOT mention important deal-breakers like a "medical tests" BEFORE encashing the INR.54,157/- cheque or during the zillion phone calls when they hound you to sell their insurance policies --or is that also a part of the "continuous monitoring and active re-balancing depending on changing needs and market dynamics" service that LT sales agents use to divest the senior citizens of their life-savings? I wonder how many other senior citizens have paid you their hard-earned money for which you dont pay any interest whatsoever, while taking half a year to make a simple decision.

I had always thought that L&T was a respectable brand name and enjoyed so much goodwill that I would have trusted them blindly BUT the L&T Finance employees have managed to destroy the enormous goodwill that the company enjoyed. Being a Finance company they would know that had this amount been invested in the simplest investment plan in any government bank's fixed deposit scheme, it would have earned around 10% interest for the last half year. Shame on you L&T Finance --do the math and return INR. 54,157/- with interest if you are not interested in allotting the Jeevan Anand policy immediately!

UPDATE [2011may28]:: Others personal experience and public opinions on LIC's Jeevan Anand policy:

[0] http://www.vinayahs.com/archives/2011/01/18/how-to-surrender-and-close-your-lic-jeevan-anand-life-insurance-policy/
[1] http://hubpages.com/hub/MY-VIEW-ON-LICS-JEEVAN-ANAND
[2] http://www.mouthshut.com/product-reviews/Jeevan-Anand-925037407
[3] http://ritusays.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/lic-life-insurance-corporation-of-india-jeevan-anand-endowment-assurance-and-life-insurance-policy/
[4] http://www.r2iclubforums.com/forums/showthread.php/20963-LIC-Jeevan-Anand-1


UPDATE [2011jun30]:: Soon after this blog was published, the L&T company representative contacted us and quickly arranged for the second test but a few days after that they were still unable to tell if LIC would issue the policy or not. The LIC agent also contacted us and they came up with a new scheme to enroll in (read, which entails us spending more on premiums with very little to show in terms of returns). In all it sounded like a terrible bargain and we insisted they return the 54,157/- Rupees without interest. There was some back-and-forth and we finally decided that if they didnt return the money (we were not even asking for the 6 months of interest at 10%), we would go the legal route where we would claim interest and harassment damages. LIC decided to return the money and we got the check this week. End of story.

2011 May 3 [Tuesday]

Building packages from source tutorial by DebianWomen

DW is conducting a packaging tutorial. Do note, this is not a tutorial for upstream package building from source, but still, its worth listening to. Here is Marga's announcement::


Are you enthusiastic about Debian and thinking about contributing? We want to guide you with the basics.

We are convinced that there are a lot of people out there that want to get involved with Free Software but don't know where to start.  For Debian, the most common task you'll do as a contributor is rebuilding a package.

The Debian Women project, in collaboration with the OpenHatch project, will be holding an IRC event to help people that want to compile their first Debian package from source, and apply their first patch.

The event

On Saturday May 7th, two tutorial sessions will be held on #debian-women on irc.debian.org to help people rebuild a package for the first time.
The earlier session, suggested for those that live in Oceania, Asia, Africa and Europe, will be held at 11:00 UTC. 

The later session, suggested for those that live in the Americas, will be held at 22:00 UTC. You can find out the exact time in your timezone by using the timezone converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/cgi-bin/tzc.tzc

There will be people available to answer questions and generally help out with any difficulties that might arise all along the day.

More info at http://wiki.debian.org/DebianWomen/BuildItEvent

Intended audience

This event is aimed to anyone who wants to rebuild a Debian package for the first time, it's a simple task that doesn't require any previous knowledge, only a working installation of Debian (or Ubuntu, or other Debian-derived system).  We want to particularly encourage women who want to get involved, to take their first steps in
contributing to Free Software, but everybody is welcome.

More about IRC

IRC is a real-time chat system you can use to get in touch with members of the Debian community. You can connect to IRC through lots of different clients, including xchat, pidgin and konversation.

About Debian Women

The Debian Women project seeks to balance and diversify the Debian Project by actively engaging with interested women and encouraging them to become more involved with Debian. http://women.debian.org

About OpenHatch

OpenHatch is an open source community aiming to help newcomers find their way into free software projects. It works towards this goal through on-line and outreach events. This event is a reappropriation of the OpenHatch "Build it" events.

--
Besos,
Marga

2011 April 30 [Saturday]

Internet free speech meme-"Casteism can get you jailed but Sexism and Ageism are acceptable in Indian politics"

I avoid meme's but had to rethink my stance after the Information Technology Rules, 2011, (aka the Electronic Service Delivery) Act was quietly implemented last month. This Act states that any content that is "threatening to the unity, integrity, defense, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign states or public order, including any content on the web that is blasphemous, scandalous, defames, or can be considered obscene", eligible for immediate removal by the hosting provider upon order from the Department of Information and Technology. Now, that was the long-winded legalese which is so darn vague but here is the short version: "you cannot criticize politicians publicly, ever."

Such draconian censorship rules have no place in a democracy that values free-speech and this calls for a  free speech meme -- I'm reproducing content (with author credits) from other websites which criticizes politicians on my blog, making it harder for DIT/gov.in to implement censorship successfully. For starters, Antara Sen criticizing the Communists for encouraging Sexism and Ageism in Indian politics.

By Antara Dev Sen , Created 30 Apr 2011 - 00:00

Which is worse — calling one of our finest politicians and a respected elder statesman a mummified corpse, a dead man who has no business opening his mouth? Or saying that the spirited woman leader and challenger to the Communist throne of Bengal ignores funds from Bengaluru to get money from the United States, much like bazaar women forget smaller clients when they get bigger patrons? Going by the collective shock and horror, the latter comment wins hands down.


What? He called her a prostitute? Do they stop at nothing? Veteran Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader and member of Parliament Anil Basu was promptly pilloried by all concerned, including his own party members. West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee apologised publicly, censured Mr Basu and pulled him out of campaigning. What he had said was uncivilised and unbecoming of a Communist, lamented the mortified chief minister. It was unpardonable.


True. Mr Basu had used shocking language and imagery, suggesting (thanks to the blinding hatred for the US that Communists have) that the US was Mamata Banerjee’s “bhaataar” (slang for a woman’s keeper) now, so she didn’t have to look at smaller homegrown patrons in Bengaluru, Chennai or Andhra Pradesh. Like the women of Sonagachhi (Kolkata’s red light district), she had dumped smaller babus for bigger ones.


Now, I hate to break this to our slanderous comrade and gentlefolk horrified by the insult, but moving from smaller to bigger clients is not the business strategy of prostitutes alone. It’s common sense. It happens in all professional and business dealings, in all societies and in all times. So Mr Basu’s sex-worker imagery was not about the logic of fund-raising — it was about using degrading stereotypes to insult a woman.


This jibe shows how regressively patriarchal even our Communist bastion is. Sex workers can be invoked as an insult in a state that came to power professing to fight for workers’ rights and dignity of labour and clung to power for more than three decades with the muscle provided by lowly workers of all kinds. Could the comrade have made similar derogatory allusions to low-caste tanners or to Doms who burn corpses? Perhaps not. But chastity is such a deep need of Indian patriarchy that even a seasoned Communist can snigger at sex workers. They aren’t really workers, just fallen women. More than Ms Banerjee, it is prostitutes who have been insulted here.


But the intent was to hit out at the deviant woman who dared to challenge the status quo. And this is not the first time that Ms Banerjee — herself adept at insult — has been attacked with sexist tools. During the Singur agitation, when she was busy taking our breath away with her astounding dramatics, this same Mr Basu had declared that if he had his way he would have dragged her by her hair and plonked her back home instead of allowing her to sit in dharnas. Clearly, for this little caveman in a dhoti, home is where the woman belongs. Not on the streets or in sit-ins. Not in politics.


In fact, the cunning Trinamul Congress chief has been called “brain dead” by the Communists — an accusation so far from the truth that it makes you wonder whether the Communists have completely lost their minds. And when Ms Banerjee first came up with her slogan “Ma, maati, maanush!” (mother, earth, people) some Left leaders had sniggered, “But she isn’t a mother — what does she know of motherhood?” In a patriarchal society, the good woman is domesticated and acceptable as a wife, a mother, a daughter-in-law. But if you are an unmarried politician woman — gosh, you have a problem, sister! You don’t fit in, you are hugely inadequate.


And it is not always men who point out this inadequacy. Some time ago, the feisty Renuka Chowdhury, then minister for women and child development, had hit out at Mayawati on the Aarushi Talwar murder case. She herself was thinking as a mother, she announced righteously, but Ms Mayawati was not a mother, she could only think as a chief minister. And was therefore wrong, of course. Shortly thereafter, Maneka Gandhi was not allowed to flout rules to meet her son Varun in a Uttar Pradesh jail. Ms Mayawati is not a mother, Ms Gandhi hit back, how could she understand a mother’s concerns?


Ages ago, a young Indira Gandhi was called a “goongi gudiya” (a dumb doll) by her respectable opponents. When she grew to become the most powerful Prime Minister India ever had, she was lauded as “the only man in her Cabinet”. Patriarchal symbolism plays a vital role in our perception of political leaders.


The wife, widow or daughter-in-law is very readily acceptable, and most of our women leaders play that role beautifully. And those who don’t — like the unmarried Ms Mayawati or Ms Banerjee — have many extra battles to fight. One way of sidestepping this is to become the universal mother, like “Amma” Jayalalithaa. But the “Behenji” or the “Didi” can only be stereotyped as a dry, heartless, careerist old maid.


But plugging into derogatory stereotypes has been part of the game of politics. What I find alarming is our refusal to see such insults when they are not included in the high-profile, politicised identity groups. Casteism in poll campaigns can get you jailed. Sexism is appalling and can get you in trouble. But ageism, however mean and hurtful, is acceptable.


Which is why I am shocked at the jibe of Bratya Basu, theatreperson and Trinamul Congress candidate in West Bengal, at Somnath Chatterjee. The former Lok Sabha Speaker, though expelled from the CPI(M) for putting the Indian Constitution before the party during the confidence vote, had generously agreed to canvass for CPI(M) minister Gautam Deb. Quick as a flash, Mr Bratya Basu — the challenger in the minister’s constituency, the “intellectual” and first-time politician — attacked the elder statesman, calling him a mummified corpse out of a coffin. Why should anyone listen to him?

An Egyptian mummy, he grimaced for effect, why is he talking in Bengali? He should talk in hieroglyphics!

Maybe civil campaigning is indeed the language of the dead. Maybe lumpenised politics does not need informed debate — either on the campaign trail or in Parliament, the highest seat of rowdy ruckus. Our democracy can just ride on vulgar name-calling and derogatory stereotypes. The vulgarisation of politics has bred a new language for a new age of ungracious, uncivil, illiberal politicians. And unless they are checked, this crude lot will breathe their own mean spirit into our wounded democracy.

Antara Dev Sen is editor of The Little Magazine. She can be contacted at: sen@littlemag.com

2011 April 15 [Friday]

Vidalia calling volunteers

Openhatch is holding a 'build it' initiative in collaboration with Vidalia which is the front-end for the proxy you installed on your system. Most importantly, for a change, has India-friendly timings instead of a graveyard shift(s) which make it hard for non-owls (like me) to attend meetings. So, if you have C/C++ skills, dont forget to join #vidalia on irc.oftc.net at 18:30 hrs, today and volunteer! Continue reading for more details from, https://blog.torproject.org/blog/vidalia-get-involved,

Hello everyone, for those who don't know me, I'm the one that's taking care of Vidalia these days.

The other day I was contacted by paulproteus in the #vidalia IRC channel about an initiative they (OpenHatch) are organizing called "Build It".

The idea

Open Source projects live and die depending on contributors and people that want to see the project evolve, but this isn't so easy sometimes. The guys behind the Build It initiative have a theory about this difficulty:

"...lots of users of free desktop software want to get involved in customizing or contributing to the project's development, but they haven't gotten to the first step of getting the program to compile."

Since I'm a Gentoo user for years now, the compilation part comes naturally to me and I haven't thought of this issue that way but it's an interesting approach.

The event

This week, people involved in Vidalia and other Open Source projects will be at a specific time online to help users (future developers, may be :) ) jump over this compilation wall. Particularly, Vidalia is scheduled for this Friday at 13:00 UTC in the same place as usual: #vidalia at OFTC.

While this event is taking place on a particular day and a particular time, I'm online all the time (even when I'm not in front of the computer). So if you want to contribute to Vidalia or any of the projects around Tor (or Tor itself), don't hesitate, just get online and start typing, but be patient and stick around. Also, you'd probably want to read this: https://www.torproject.org/getinvolved/volunteer.html.en

If you want to know more about the Buld It initiative, you can ask in #openhatch at Freenode, or read here: https://openhatch.org/wiki/Build_it


2011 April 4 [Monday]

b0rked Broadcom bcm43xx drivers

Dear Broadcom, Despite your late gesture of opensourcing the bcm43xx wireless drivers, I continue to have issues -- Last week a kernel upgrade from lucid not only broke the driver but managed to kill the nvidia drivers for good measure -- it was easier to take a data backup and do a clean re-installation of Lucid than waste a lot of time figuring out how your bcm43xx driver broke the nvidia drivers killing my graphics display totally. 

However, I was mistaken about it being a kernel upgrade (to 2.6.35) issue as the peace lasted for hardly 3 days -- since I am blessed with having to start my monday morning troubleshooting your broken hardware drivers (on 2.6.32-21 generic kernel version) instead of getting actual work done.
 
lucid@ubuntu:~$ dpkg --list |grep b43
ii  b43-fwcutter             1:012-1build1          Utility for extracting Broadcom 43xx firmwar

lucid@ubuntu:~$ dpkg --list |grep bcmwl
ii  bcmwl-modaliases       5.60.48.36+bdcom-0ubuntu3       Modaliases for the Broadcom 802.11 Linux STA

So the "b43-fwcutter" utility package exists on my system (as I had installed and activated the drivers) but something between each reboot was blocking the drivers as the link would suddenly be hard blocked. This despite me taking the trouble to NOT upgrade from the 2.6.32-21 generic kernel version.

Then, I checked the B43 blacklisted file:

lucid@ubuntu:~$ cat /etc/modprobe.d/* | egrep '8180|acx|at76|ath|b43|bcm|CX|eth|ipw|irmware|isl|lbtf|orinoco|ndiswrapper|NPE|p54|prism|rtl|rt2|rt3|rt6|rt7|witch|wl'
# which ath5k cannot recover. To prevent this condition, stop
blacklist ath_pci
blacklist eth1394
# replaced by p54pci
blacklist prism54
# replaced by b43 and ssb.
blacklist bcm43xx
blacklist uart6850
blacklist twl4030_wdt

and sure enough, "bcm43xx" was indeed on the blacklist.....nice, girdle up for more yakshaving!

Next, I paid a visit to the "blacklist.conf" file and commented out the line "blacklist bcm43xx".

Rebooted for it to take effect. Nada, Zilch, still no wifi.

lucid@ubuntu:/lib/firmware/b43$ ls
a0g0bsinitvals5.fw  a0g1bsinitvals13.fw  a0g1initvals5.fw     b0g0bsinitvals9.fw  lp0bsinitvals13.fw  lp0initvals14.fw    n0initvals11.fw  ucode14.fw
a0g0bsinitvals9.fw  a0g1bsinitvals5.fw   a0g1initvals9.fw     b0g0initvals13.fw   lp0bsinitvals14.fw  lp0initvals15.fw    pcm5.fw          ucode15.fw
a0g0initvals5.fw    a0g1bsinitvals9.fw   b0g0bsinitvals13.fw  b0g0initvals5.fw    lp0bsinitvals15.fw  n0absinitvals11.fw  ucode11.fw       ucode5.fw
a0g0initvals9.fw    a0g1initvals13.fw    b0g0bsinitvals5.fw   b0g0initvals9.fw    lp0initvals13.fw    n0bsinitvals11.fw   ucode13.fw       ucode9.fw

lucid@ubuntu:~$ cd /lib/firmware/brcm
bash: cd: /lib/firmware/brcm: No such file or directory


Then, a sudo ln -s bcm43xx-0-610-809-0.fw bcm43xx-0.fw and sudo ln -s bcm43xx_hdr-0-610-809-0.fw bcm43xx_hdr-0.fw should have loaded and activated the drivers after a reboot. It did not, forcing me to switch to a wired connection on a laptop. WTF!

Broadcom, fiddling with "bcm43xx" is a sure-fire way to kill time. Thankyou very much for the Yak-shaving experience --it serves as a constant reminder to me, why I will never (unknowingly) buy another Broadcom driven product in future, ever! KTHXBAI.

UPDATE:: Its a "networking disabled on boot" bug in Ubuntu-Lucid and Maverick that has a fix (but not yet committed for Maverick):
[0] http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1594577
[1] https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/network-manager/+bug/524454
[2] https://help.ubuntu.com/community/WifiDocs/Driver/bcm43xx#Installing%20b43%20drivers
[3] http://www.qc4blog.com/?p=857

I've tried everything mentioned in the above threads to no avail. Wifi is out cold!

2011 March 7 [Monday]

Aruna Ramchandra Shanbhag

Tomorrow the the world will celebrate the 100th International Women's Day, but today the Supreme Court verdict rejected the mercy-killing petition of Aruna Ramchandra Shanbhag, filed by Pinky Virani the author of "Aruna's Story". In a country like India, "mercy killing" (whether passive or not) will definitely be misused by parties with vested interests and while I welcome the court's judgement on passive euthanasia, I can't help but wonder if India has done enough since then. As Usha writes, "In the 60s , Jayakantan wrote a story called “Agnipravesam” where a college girl is raped in a car on a dark rainy evening . On seeing her state when she reaches home, her poor widowed mother immediately senses what has happened. She takes her in and simply pours water on the girls head; then she tells her to treat the water as fire and feel pure again and forget the incident."


Thinking about Aruna, I am in two minds --one part of me wants her suffering to stop and it was really hard to not cry for her, for "what may have been" when I saw her hospital video being aired on every news channel, or while writing this entry, or while reading for the first time all those years ago -- Aruna's tragedy still evokes the same emotional reaction today as when I first heard heard her story all those years ago -- A pretty nurse, brutally raped by her subordinate, Sohanlal Bharatha Valmiki, as an act of revenge ; who has since 1980 been a free man -- free to marry and have a family of his own ; whose first act upon being released from jail in 1980 was to visit Aruna's room at KEM hospital and remove the bed guards, leading to her falling from the hospital bed. He probably thought Aruna would fall and die. She didnt. Presumably security was raised after this second incident and her co-nurses and doctors are her only visitors. Later the rapist moved out of the city and was last heard working in a NewDelhi hospital under an assumed name.

I met a big learned pujari who said I had a sau mein ek patrika [a rare horoscope], that I’d be a success, will live long and would go abroad..... but even if he was talking rubbish it does not matter because I know that I will become known in my field -- That was the ambitious and dynamic 25-year-old Aruna, talking to her cousin about her career plans to pursue her dreams of studying abroad. Eerily, the soothsayer's predictions to her father did come true but I doubt if this was the kind of fame they would have wished for, nor expected.  Aruna, born on 1948June01, was the youngest daughter of the Shanbhag family -- consisting of her parents and siblings, six brothers and two sisters, all of who were more interested in extracting an apartment in Mumbai and financial compensation out of her tragedy. When that didnt materialize, they abandoned her to her fate.

For a woman who went against her family and rejected the life of abject poverty in the village, she did well as a nurse in Mumbai, met and fell in love with Dr.Sundeep Sardesai, who upon realising that Aruna would never be normal again, deserted her to marry another woman on 1974May01 and settled down abroad. If you knew and loved someone so deeply would you not feel any guilt for deserting them? I cannot help but wonder if Dr.Sardesai, even once, over these 37 years, ever wondered how Aruna is doing. His rejection makes me wonder if he had ever cared or loved her at all!

Apparently everyone in Aruna's life has moved on and is living a normal human life. There is no doubt that Aruna's hellish experience has made her suffer for 37 long years but mercy-killing? Killing someone who cannot make that decision for themselves isnt mercy. However which way I argue, it seems terribly unfair that others get to decide when Aruna should die. How do we have the right to make decisions on behalf of a person who, unfortunately, cannot decide for herself!

Strange as it may sound, she seems like a fighter to me -- Didnt she overcome her comatose state after the rape, albeit declared "brain-dead"/'persistent vegetative state' thence. Her tremendous will to survive reflects in the fact that despite being brain-dead she has definitely shown a will to live, and most importantly, she can breathe on her own and isnt dependent on life-aids. The nurses at Mumbai's King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital claim, Aruna responds to them when they attend to her, albeit as 'screams' or 'smiles' and they cheered at the Supreme Court's verdict that Aruna should live. For once, I am glad that the tax-payers money is being put to good use by a handful of KEM nurses and doctors.

All the people in favor of killing (err..mercy-killing) Aruna, should take a moment to wonder at her indomitable spirit her body still holds on to -- She responds to stimuli, is on a liquid diet and loves listening to music and the staff nurses and doctors of KEM care more for Aruna than her family or ex-fiance ever did. She continues to live among strangers who care enough to care for her life. Why should we deny her the right to live?

On 2011June01, Aruna Shanbhag will not know she turned 63, as she has remained oblivious to all her birthdays since 1973November27, but that is not reason enough to permit euthanasia. Let us not kill someone who, despite two murder attempts on her life, has shown such tremendous will to live. She has survived despite the odds stacked against her and she should be allowed to die when her body chooses it, naturally. That, for me, is mercy!

If reading about Aruna was heart-wrenching, writing this blog entry was equally difficult, especially because I wanted an appropriate title in Marathi, one that could reflect Aruna Shanbhag's strong never-say-die spirit, choosing to outlive her tragedy by 37 long years (and probably many more to come), only to remind Indians (and the world?) that as a society, and as a nation, we conveniently choose to forget the silent, the inconvenient, the speechless and actively deny justice to women who are rape victims. Its ironic to be forgotten by the next generation you supposedly bring forth!

In Sanskrit, "Mukta"has various meanings: "finally set free", "liberated, delivered, emancipated (esp. from sin or worldly existence)" ; as also meaning "abandoned, relinquished, given up , laid aside" ; "the quarter or cardinal point just quitted by the sun" [ironically, her first name 'Aruna'; means "the red colour of the morning sun"] ; unchaste woman; "the spirit released from corporeal existence" (a noun form). How ironic!

For me, Aruna is already mukta -- she, whose ruddy spirit wills her to live, despite the cruel betrayals by those she loved, the society and the Indian legal system! I cant even begin to imagine the pain Aruna may have gone through but instead of killing her in the name of mercy, we should be fighting to update the ancient rape laws in India -- bring them on par to those followed in developed nations like USA, Europe, et al. Lets petition to change Indian laws and make it impossible for an Aruna Ramchandra Shanbhag redux, ever! That, for me, would be true mercy towards all Indian women and each day would be Indian Women's Day!

UPDATE: Tasting crystals of sugar fed by sister Sugandha Rokade in her mouth, nurse Aruna Shanbaug, 62, cried out, “Aaah!” when she was told about the Supreme Court judgment.

2011 February 22 [Tuesday]

beware of spammers asking for your account password

If you've got a mail with the subject line "Account System Update", asking for your "Passvvord" (gee, atleast spell it right :/), because they are shutting down your account, .... Simply delete it.

Notice the headers, its not from Google or Gmail and you would be safer not responding to them. I'm not sure if google has a feedback system where I can submit this so I thought its better to blog and tell the whole world.

Delivered-To: s***@gmail.com
Received: by 10.236.95.41 with SMTP id o29cs221272yhf;
Mon, 21 Feb 2011 16:29:35 -0800 (PST)
Received: by 10.224.28.66 with SMTP id l2mr1663334qac.68.1298334565437;
Mon, 21 Feb 2011 16:29:25 -0800 (PST)
Return-Path: <nobody@alexander.ourhostingservers.com>
Received: from alexander.ourhostingservers.com (alexander.ourhostingservers.com [75.126.65.69])
by mx.google.com with ESMTPS id m15si11781389qck.51.2011.02.21.16.29.25
(version=TLSv1/SSLv3 cipher=OTHER);
Mon, 21 Feb 2011 16:29:25 -0800 (PST)
Received-SPF: pass (google.com: best guess record for domain of nobody@alexander.ourhostingservers.com designates 75.126.65.69 as permitted sender) client-ip=75.126.65.69;
Authentication-Results: mx.google.com; spf=pass (google.com: best guess record for domain of nobody@alexander.ourhostingservers.com designates 75.126.65.69 as permitted sender) smtp.mail=nobody@alexander.ourhostingservers.com
Received: from nobody by alexander.ourhostingservers.com with local (Exim 4.69)
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2011 February 9 [Wednesday]

GSoC-2011 invites small FLOSS projects

On the heels of GCI ending a few days ago, GSOC-2011 was announced at LCA. This year there is an important change, that of the participating organizations, as per Carol's mail (below), http://lists.p2pu.org/pipermail/p2pu-dev/2011-February/000288.html :

--
On Tue, 8 Feb 2011, Carol Smith wrote:

Hi all,

Per some feedback from the mentor summit last year, I've decided to
encourage and accept more small and new mentoring organizations this year.
In tandem with more organizations, I am also setting up a separate mailing
list for the newbie organizations to subscribe to to get advice on how to
successfully participate in the program for the summer.

I need your help with this effort. If you know of small/new projects who are
doing interesting work in the opensource space who might not otherwise
apply, please encourage them to do so. We're looking for all kinds of new
orgs - ones doing stuff on the bleeding edge, ones opensourcing stuff that
hasn't been before, ones who might get overlooked because they're otherwise
too small.

There will be two special questions on the mentoring organization
application this year: one for which a large or experienced organization can
vouch for a small, new organization and one for new or small organizations
to list their "references" in the form of veteran orgs or people. These two
questions will be looked at very specifically when we review organization
applications this year so please fill them in if they are applicable for
you.

To facilitate the mentor/mentee relationship between orgs I've set up a
mailing list for both veteran and newbie mentors to join [1]. Please sign up
if you feel comfortable offering advice to new organizations on how to
participate in a successful GSoC. I've made this list invite-only, so please
request membership if you're interested in joining and list the org you
mentor for. After we've announced accepted organizations for this year, the
mentors and org admins from the new projects will be automatically
subscribed to this list and encouraged to ask questions and get advice.
**This will be a chatty list.**

Thank you in advance for your help with this effort, and may this be the
most awesome summer yet!

[1] - http://groups.google.com/group/gsoc-veterans

Cheers,
Carol
--

As you can see, Google is inviting all fledgling free software projects to apply and there is a concerted effort to rope in smaller organizations doing nice things in Libre software this year. So if you know any organization or floss project that should be a part of gsoc, encourage them to join the mailing list and apply for 2011. [UPDATE,2011feb25: Here is a spreadsheet of the FLOSS organizations applying for GSOC-2011, but do remember that this is NOT a final list which is entirely upto Google.]

Like FLOSS projects, GSOC is perhaps the only technical event that is open to students in any stream (you could be studying for your B.A in literature and still participate in GSOC), does not have artificial barriers which perpetuate a myth that only Engineers or Computer Science students can use, decode and contribute to FLOSS. Any student can, provided they put in some effort to understanding the Libre software ecosystem.

So go ahead, download and use their presentations, logos and flyers to promote Gsoc in your college or university, spread the word and participate when the list of accepted projects is announced in March.

[UPDATE,2011feb28: Google has opened the application process for mentoring organizations for Google Summer of Code 2011 which are being accepted at Melange for ALL Libre software organizations. Please note that the application period closes on 11 March at 23:00 UTC.]


2010 December 17 [Friday]

Smartmontools load_cycle_count

Dear Lazyweb,

If you have installed "smartmontools" on your laptop on Ubuntu-Lucid, has it been behaving erratically after the last update about a week ago?

me@ubuntu:~$ sudo smartctl -s on -a /dev/sda 

smartctl version 5.38 [i686-pc-linux-gnu] Copyright (C) 2002-8 Bruce Allen
Home page is http://smartmontools.sourceforge.net/

=== START OF INFORMATION SECTION ===
Model Family:     Seagate Momentus 5400.3
Device Model:     ST9160821AS
Serial Number:    5MA1LL40
Firmware Version: 3.BHD
User Capacity:    160,041,885,696 bytes
Device is:        In smartctl database [for details use: -P show]
ATA Version is:   7
ATA Standard is:  Exact ATA specification draft version not indicated
Local Time is:    Fri Dec 17 11:09:46 2010 UTC
SMART support is: Available - device has SMART capability.
SMART support is: Enabled

=== START OF ENABLE/DISABLE COMMANDS SECTION ===
SMART Enabled.

=== START OF READ SMART DATA SECTION ===
SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED
See vendor-specific Attribute list for marginal Attributes.

General SMART Values:
Offline data collection status:  (0x82)    Offline data collection activity
                    was completed without error.
                    Auto Offline Data Collection: Enabled.
Self-test execution status:      (  21)    The self-test routine was aborted by
                    the host.
Total time to complete Offline
data collection:          ( 426) seconds.
Offline data collection
capabilities:              (0x53) SMART execute Offline immediate.
                    Auto Offline data collection on/off support.
                    Suspend Offline collection upon new
                    command.
                    No Offline surface scan supported.
                    Self-test supported.
                    No Conveyance Self-test supported.
                    Selective Self-test supported.
SMART capabilities:            (0x0003)    Saves SMART data before entering
                    power-saving mode.
                    Supports SMART auto save timer.
Error logging capability:        (0x01)    Error logging supported.
                    No General Purpose Logging support.
Short self-test routine
recommended polling time:      (   2) minutes.
Extended self-test routine
recommended polling time:      (  88) minutes.
SCT capabilities:            (0x0001)    SCT Status supported.

SMART Attributes Data Structure revision number: 10
Vendor Specific SMART Attributes with Thresholds:
ID# ATTRIBUTE_NAME          FLAG     VALUE WORST THRESH TYPE      UPDATED  WHEN_FAILED RAW_VALUE
  1 Raw_Read_Error_Rate     0x000f   105   096   006    Pre-fail  Always       -       9940165
  3 Spin_Up_Time            0x0002   099   098   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
  4 Start_Stop_Count        0x0033   098   098   020    Pre-fail  Always       -       2683
  5 Reallocated_Sector_Ct   0x0033   100   100   036    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
  7 Seek_Error_Rate         0x000f   072   060   030    Pre-fail  Always       -       17255855270
  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0032   096   096   000    Old_age   Always       -       3998
 10 Spin_Retry_Count        0x0013   100   100   034    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
 12 Power_Cycle_Count       0x0033   098   098   020    Pre-fail  Always       -       2155
187 Reported_Uncorrect      0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
189 High_Fly_Writes         0x003a   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
190 Airflow_Temperature_Cel 0x0022   049   035   045    Old_age   Always   In_the_past 51 (15 36 54 47)
192 Power-Off_Retract_Count 0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       1159
193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0032   001   001   000    Old_age   Always       -       227684
194 Temperature_Celsius     0x0022   051   065   000    Old_age   Always       -       51 (0 18 0 0)
195 Hardware_ECC_Recovered  0x001a   078   060   000    Old_age   Always       -       64509422
197 Current_Pending_Sector  0x0012   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       1
198 Offline_Uncorrectable   0x0010   100   100   000    Old_age   Offline      -       1
199 UDMA_CRC_Error_Count    0x003e   200   200   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
200 Multi_Zone_Error_Rate   0x0000   100   253   000    Old_age   Offline      -       0
202 TA_Increase_Count       0x0032   100   253   000    Old_age   Always       -       0

SMART Error Log Version: 1
No Errors Logged

SMART Self-test log structure revision number 1
Num  Test_Description    Status                  Remaining  LifeTime(hours)  LBA_of_first_error
# 1  Extended offline    Aborted by host               50%      2943         -
# 2  Extended offline    Aborted by host               70%      2699         -

SMART Selective self-test log data structure revision number 1
 SPAN  MIN_LBA  MAX_LBA  CURRENT_TEST_STATUS
    1        0        0  Not_testing
    2        0        0  Not_testing
    3        0        0  Not_testing
    4        0        0  Not_testing
    5        0        0  Not_testing
Selective self-test flags (0x0):
  After scanning selected spans, do NOT read-scan remainder of disk.
If Selective self-test is pending on power-up, resume after 0 minute delay.

As you can see here, there is no LCC for desktop server hard-disks and its especially meant for laptop HDD, where I'm interested in limiting the Load_Cycle_Count (LCC) to increment only with each boot cycle. Yeah, it has inherent risks, but...


193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0032   001   001   000    Old_age   Always       -       227825

However, since (the lucid update) last week, running 'smartctl' has not worked its magic since the count has incremented from 227684 to 227825 within an hour. I've been randomly checking it every other hour or so to find the LCC racing away.

Is this a sign that the HDD is dying? Is this a hardware issue or has the code-base changed to require a rebuild? What am I missing here?

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