Sep 30, 2010

Road work ...


You can see people digging up holes or covering it up almost every day. I wonder if we could do something to change it, not dig up the road like twice a week.
I agree, roadworks are crucial in keeping road users safe. They also improve journeys and motorist experience in the long run. But have we tried do try to strike a good balance between minimal disruption and the need to regularly maintain and improve roads systems? What do you think?

Malé, Maldives.

Relax! Have a drink ...


Tourists are offered a chance to taste the well water inside Friday Mosque while they tour the tourist attraction of capital city Malé.
I personally think the tour guides should stop this and find other activities to amuse their guests. It is not a covered well, water may not be clean enough to drink. But I guess the tourists would know that as well, eh? To him his own!

Malé, Maldives.

Sep 28, 2010

Learning a bit of HTML …



They say it is easy to start a blog, but the challenge is to sustain it. Well, considering the obligations it creates and the level of commitment it takes, I have decided that I need to learn a bit of HTML if I want to continue with this blog. I want to make it look a bit better and make blogging a bit efficient, less a chore.

I moved from Wordpress to Blogger recently and found out that while Wordpress has a staggering amount of themes, I have way less choices when it comes to themes for Blogger. Sure, there are many out there, but not too many good ones, and as with everything, the good ones are always taken.
These few themes get used a lot, with little customization or modification. So, I want to change this current theme a bit as part of my weak attempt to personalize and set this blog apart from millions of other blogs on the internet. That, at least, is the general idea.

Also, I want to quit calling my "tech" friends every time I want to change a small thing on this blog, like background color, image size or typography. I do not want to become a maestro in coding, I just want to learn enough to format a post a certain way or change the way an element looks. It can not be that hard, right? If I can get to a stage where I can do a "view source" of this page without feeling perplexed and wanting to close my laptop, that would be nice.

To start things off, I am using an add-on called Web Developer for Firefox. I can view all the elements on the page and it shows realtime previews of the changes I make. The search feature is a bit weird and it would have been nice if the code was color coded.

I will be tinkering a little and changing minor things on this blog. Expect total disaster!


The Parliament House ...


The parking lot on the eastern side of Parliament House.
I have seen some heated arguments and discussion take place here. Not the place to hang out if you are not in to politics.
But the problem is, it seems every one is in to politics now. Every one is always talking about this politician did this and that politician did that. It feels like our country has a new pastime. But its good I guess, the public has a right to know what their elected officials are up to, eh?

Malé, Maldives.

Sep 26, 2010

Feel the Energy ...


A street ad of yet another energy/sports drink. The market is flooded with choice for energy drinks these days. I dont even know how to say the name of this particular drink, can some one please tell us the correct pronunciation.
Every time you pop in to a store to buy something, you cannot but notice a refrigerator full of all brands of energy drinks. Redbull is still number one, though, eh?

Sep 25, 2010

Lily's Café ...


When Trends in Nasandhura closed down a few years ago, we had to find an alternate to place to meet up and have coffee. Someone suggested Lily's and it stuck. May be because it is easier to park our bikes around Lily's than most other coffee places in town.
But you have to find somehwere far away to have coffee if it's the wrong season of the year. When the big swells appear on the ocean the waves break right over those roofs, you see.

Malé, Maldives.

Sep 23, 2010

Prince of Persia defies the future ...


Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time has been out for a while. I watched it a couple of weeks back. But yesterday, I watched it in all of its high definition glory 720p. It was good, and I thought it deserved a blog post.

The movie is based on the video game character of the same name. I did play the earlier games, though not the recent ones, and remember that I had a lot of fun playing them. Hence, I was excited about the movie and expectation was high.

The story is different from the games but there are some scenes which will make you smile in recognition. Story goes something like this.

Dastan, (Jake Gyllenha) a young street boy is taken under the wing of a gracious King for his bravery and grows up to be adoptive brother to the heirs of Persian throne. In the King's absence, and ignoring Dastan's objections, the Persian army led by Dastan's brothers and uncle (Ben Kingsley) decides to invade the Holy City of Alamut assuming they are forging and supplying top-grade weapons to the enemies. Unbeknownst to his brothers, Dastan manages to gain access to Alamut and open the gate, hence avoiding a massive confrontation and a bloodbath. While in Alamut, Dastan finds a dagger and keeps it. Here on the events take a turn, and Dastan is blamed for treachery and murder, and flees the scene with Princess of Alamut, Tamina (Gemma Arterton), with the Persian army hot on their trail.

The story unfolds that the dagger he kept earlier is filled with Sands of Time, and is capable of transporting the bearer back in time, to change things in his favor and Princess Tamina is it's guardian. Dastan decides to go back to Alamut to learn the truth and clear his name. Tamina has her own agenda and wants the dagger back but agrees to go with him. They meet and make alliance with a reluctant shiekh (Alfred Molina) who claims to be a "slightly dishonest entrepreneur".

Being a big budget summer movie it provides entertaining characters, intense action scenes, and good eye-candy visuals.

Some of the scenes were a bit overwhelming for me. Zipping along rooftops, putting modern urban parkour artists to shame. Missing arrows whizzing past by inches. Amazing rope swinging accuracy with impossible acrobatics and doing backflips to a safe doorway when the whole place is crumbling down. But I liked the few slow motion shots, they did not feel obvious or redundant. Nice.

Once you get in to the movie it is as pleasing as any other movie of the ilk. You can sit back and enjoy this movie and forget about it. It is entertaining and just as easily dismissible.

Also, the movie finally manages to give the Prince a name, Dastan, which all the games past failed to do. I do not like that name.

Gemma Arterton was beautiful and sensuous. She definitely looked the part of a Princess.

I could not help wonder the parallels the story takes to the actual events that has transpired in our recent history. America invading Iran (then Persia) in the guise that Iran had weapons of mass destruction. They never did find any.


Sep 20, 2010

Sins may be forgiven but conscience is a killer …



We’re only a week or so away from the premier of Dexter Season 5. The dark crime drama with America’s favorite serial killer. I just saw the enticing trailer of upcoming season and it was good. Here is the youtube link. Please do not see this trailer if you have not seen the season finale of Dexter season 4.

I think this season is going to be really good with Julia Stiles and Johnny Lee Miller joining the cast. Anticipation continues to rise for the fans of Dexter.

Will Dexter feel human emotion due to the recent loss? How will Dexter cope with single Dad situation without Rita? Will Deb finally learn the truth about Dexter? Is Dexter a suspect for this murder? Will police learn anything new while investigating the latest murder? And can anyone top the villainous Trinity character this season?

The Dark Passenger arrives Sunday, September 26th. Can't wait.


Sep 19, 2010

Warning to Parliament ...


Surgeon General issues a warning to Parliament.
Probably not the type of announcement that most of you would have thought, but can we think of it as a start?

Malé, Maldives.

Expatriates Monitoring ...


Expatriates waiting around, hanging out, waiting around at Expatriate Monitoring and Repatriation Division of Ministry of Immigration and Emigration.
Expatriate population in Maldives is growing uncontrollably rapidly. The government of Maldives with help from respective embassies of neighboring countries is in the process of eradicating the problem we face today. But its easier said than done. Especially when we do not have a proper monitoring mechanism. Good luck!

Malé, Maldives.

Sep 17, 2010

I write like Stephen King ???



I came across this nifty online service which purports to analyze your writing style and compares that to famous authors. It works like this, you input a paragraph or two in to the website and it will supposedly tell you who you write like. Sounds fun, right? Yes!

Naturally, it irked my curiosity. I had to give it a go. I copy pasted an article from this blog. It told me I write like Stephen King. I was shocked. I have read a few books by Mr. King. He is a great story teller. One of the best science fiction writers. I can not possibly be writing like him. So, I tried again. Same result. I think my abuse of ellipsis is confusing the analytical process used by this service.

So, I threw in one of the recent posts on this blog. You will notice that the later posts have somewhat a different writing style. This time the name Cory Doctorow came up and I drew a blank.

Well, to be honest, I have not heard of Mr. Doctorow and had to google him. Turns out,  according to wikipedia, he is a very famous Canadian blogger, journalist, and science fiction author who serves as co-editor of the blog Boing Boing. Well then, I guess I didn't do that bad.

These kinds of "Which/What are you?" services are fun, but really meaningless. Always limited to a predetermined list of answers. Answers should not be taken seriously at all. But try it out. Do tell who you write like.


Sep 16, 2010

Sign Boards and Cell Phones ...


Guys at a construction site in Malé.
Its good to see some safety features at construction sites like these.Most of the construction sites I see in Malé have some sort of safety signage.
Wonder why everyone at work is talking in to their cell phones all the time?

Malé, Maldives.

Sep 15, 2010

Superman Takes A Break ...


After a hard days work of saving the world, man of steel takes a much deserved break :)
He still a personification of good over evil, and good for him that his films are being rebooted every other decade or so.
Up up and away!

Malé, Maldives.

Sep 13, 2010

An aerodynamic building .... ?!?


Seems like this is a multi-purpose building. Are those wings? You never know what an architect/designer is thinking! I sometimes don't get their creativity. I personally think that, somewhere in mid construction, someone changed the plans. Why else would their be a useless angular and cantilevered concrete slab jutting out of the corner of the building? Were they trying to make it a corner balcony or something? We would never know, I guess.

Malé, Maldives.

Sep 12, 2010

Scary: sinkholes in the city ...



I am sure you have seen the picture above in your local news feeds. Its all over the internet. You must have been shocked to see the picture. My reaction was this was photoshopped or something. When I read the article accompanying the picture, I was like, Holy Shit !!!

The picture is not photoshopped. It is not fake. It comes from the official channels out of Guatemala. Link to official Flcikr stream.

If by any chance you have not seen it, let me explain. What you are looking at is a sinkhole, a natural depression caused by the removal of underground soil by water. This particular sinkhole is 60 feet wide 400 feet deep sink hole. Three of them appeared randomly in Guatemala City few days back.

Most agree that these holes appear to have been triggered by the tropical storm Agatha. Others say, its a piping feature, a nicer name for an underground burst pipe. No matter the reason, one thing is clear, it is darn frightening. Nature can do that to you sometimes.

Living on an island that barely measures 2 square kilometers, and the highest point on land being 3 feet above mean sea level, our only concern has been sea level rise and big waves.

But lets venture a thought, what if a sinkhole like this appears in an overcrowded and congested city like ours? I cannot even begin to contemplate the consequences if something of this nature happens in Malé.

How would the people react? How would disaster management officials work to fix something like this. What would happen to the families who loose their homes, buildings and businesses. Do we have the manpower or technology to repair the damage done? It is a scary thought. Very scary. Not to mention passel of domestic and economic problems that would ensue.

It is not like sinkholes have not appeared in Maldives or in Malé. Sinkholes have appeared near IGMH and some near Nasandhura. Haveeru link here.

According to stories I hear, some have appeared in other islands as well. But as with most things local, our versions are always smaller compared to other countries.

We have always been able to fix most of the things like this that have happened here, and I hope nothing of massive scale ever happens to us. But what if ...

Am not trying to blow anything out of proportions. Am not even trying scare anyone. I just wanted to take some time and remind us how insignificant we are against nature. How unprepared we are for something of this nature and magnitude.


Sep 11, 2010

Racing at Hulhumalé ...


It seems every Friday, street racers head out to Hulhumalé to practice. I hear the car racers sometimes hire out a small landing craft to transport the race cars from Malé to Hulhumalé just so they can race on the deserted street expanse of Hulhumalé. It is good to see that these riders are wearing good protective gear from respected and reputed brand names in the field. And these guys ride fast!

Hulhumalé, Maldives.

Sep 10, 2010

Back to blogging, back to Blogger ...



As you might have noticed, I had some technical problems with my blog a few weeks back. Every time I tried to access my blog, a google advisory was shown informing that my blog had malicious code in it and the security of my Wordpress installation has been compromised.

Some blogs which had (back)links to my blog had shown a warning saying that my blog may be an intermediary to malicious code distribution. My blog showing that advisory was annoying but my friends' blogs showing it was embarrassing and down right frustrating. I had to do something about it and do it fast.

I didn't know how to fix it at the time. Hence, I took my blog offline in attempt to mitigate the problem. After some checking and a lot of googling I came to know that some (a lot actually, about 1800) of nasty comments have found their way in to my blog, and these comments had spam links all over them. I talked to some "tech" friends of mine and found out that there was no easy way to fix this. I had to manually go through all the comments in my blog and remove the suspicious ones. Then, I was told, to go through all the files on my server to find anything that should not be there or if anything had been changed.

That did it, I was not going to scrutinize every file on my server. Mostly because I didn't know how to do it. So, loosing a little bit of faith in Wordpress and for the first time reading about their security issues, I decided to abandon Wordpress and move to something simpler that did not need active moderation or maintenance. I considered Tumblr, and Squarespace, but I migrated to Blogger.

I started this blog on Blogger, but was soon wooed away to Wordpress by the cool themes and the promise of having total control over my blog. I forgot that power and control while being exciting to some can also be a liability to others like me. Wordpress is amazing and much more flexible if I wanted to take on the extra burden of paying and coordinating web hosting, be on top of security updates, and fix all broken plugins every time I updated to a major release - this is to be expected in any self run solution I guess. But you soon get tired of it. It is not fun, to say the least.

When I first started using Blogger I had my separate login for Blogspot. Now, Google has taken over and my Blogspot account has been claimed and linked to my Google account. Blogger has improved a lot since then. They have good support, many third party widgets and real time statistic. They even support custom domains now. Add to this the simplicity and ease of use and we get a good blogging platform which keeps on improving backed by a large and powerful company. Also, getting on Blogger means I can let go of another username/password, which I had to remember and keep safe. Its a good thing these days.

Now that my blog is back up on Blogger, it is time to act on my perpetual thought of updating this blog in a regular fashion. This blog has nearly died many times. But I always come back and try to revive it somehow. Its hard to keep blogging when there are so many social networks that you are expected to be on and update regularly. But I will find time. At least, thats what I say to myself every time.

I apologize to all my readers and to people who have been shown my google advisory on their blogs. Google has a one of the best spam protection around and so I hope that this move would rectify that problem and make life a simpler.

In the arena of hosted blogs, most seem to like Wordpress, and some are fervent proponents. Well, I'm on blogger for the time being, despite the technical benefit.


Sep 8, 2010

Fithuroanu Magu ...


Road sign post in Hulhumalé.
A good effort by the Hulhumalé Development corporation on good signage Hulhumalé roadways. If you were really looking for them, you will find them. I wish the signs were a little but bigger and easier to find, though. I do like the the green theme and consistency.

Hulhumalé, Maldives.

Sep 4, 2010

The often photographed Tsunami Monument ...


The Tsunami Monument, perhaps one of the most photographed structure in Malé, I don't know why but I am ready to bet that most of the Maldivian photographers, be them amateur, hobbyist or professional, seem to have a picture of this place in their Flickr photo stream. Myself included. We don't want to go against the grain, now do we?

Tsunami Monument was built in memory of the many Maldivians who lost their lives in the Indian Ocean Tsunami, December 26th, 2004. One of the worst natural disasters to hit our country in recorded history.

Malé, Maldives.

Reading on the Amazon Kindle ...



I'm sure by now, everybody's heard of Amazon Kindle. If you have not, let me tell you. Its and e-reader, an electronic book reader sold exclusively by Amazon Kindle is not the only e-book reader out there. No, there are others, Sony's Reader and  B&N's Nook come to mind.

After doing some research about price, screen size and PDF support, I ended up buying the Amazon Kindle DX. And it is great. It really is a good device. It doesn't do much, but what is does, it does beautifully. Very nice.

Sleek and ergonomic with a 9.7 inch screen, the device is heavier than a small paperback, but lighter than a hardcover book. It is thinner than any physical book you want to read. No more tired hands holding heavy books.

Reading on the E-ink display is like reading a newspaper, good contrast and very easy on the eye. Me being a guy who used to read PDF's on the computer screen, I know a thing or two about eye strain. No more with the Kindle, because it does not have a backlight. Serious reader will appreciate this much more than I can.

Reading is a breeze on the Kindle. And you never loose where you are reading on a book, or multiple books. It remembers where you left off and you can pick up from there on any book. No more dog-eared pages. No more lost bookmarks. you can even write notes in the margins, highlight important parts for reference.

Page turns are a tad slow, but when you get inside what you are reading, you forget about the delivery system, the screen and the buttons – its the characters and the story that really matters.

Yes, I know about the apple iPad. Kindle is not trying to be an iPad. Kindle is a reading device, and by far a superior device at that. For you out there who has a voracious appetite for reading, I highly recommend you consider a Kindle. And for people who wants to multi task, this device is not for you.

If you are like me, there are a lot of books that you want to read. Most of them can be found in e-book format. I'm hoping this would ease the process and let me get some reading done away from my computer and when I'm traveling.

Am currently reading The Bourne Legacy by Eric Van Lustbader. This is good, as I read the three previous books as PDFs on my computer screen.